Who is Awarding The Disruption Badge?

by Dan Robles on 12/03/2011

There are some big names getting involved with “badges”.  Modern ideas about badges arise from incentive used by the gaming community to indicate achievement.  Historically, however, badges are older than money itself. Recently, badges are gaining attention in the area of education as a means of indicating achievement.

Badges are steeped deep in our economy and culture

When people write their resume, they “badge” themselves with the names of the companies that they worked for and the schools they attended.  They badge themselves with the market brands of the products that they worked on.  They badge themselves with the trademarks of the technologies that they applied.

People even badge themselves with corporate ideals such that “chronology”, “reasons for leaving” and “no blank spaces” are somehow rational proxies for intellect, creativity, and team working skills.We need a behavior platform, kids. Passion, family, and purpose are merely business disruptions.

There are several directions that this can go

The first is the inevitable collusion between badges and branding.  I am still scratching my head over AMEX hijacking the “Social Currency” badge.  Other badges (or logos) are considered among the most valuable assets that a company can own from Microsoft certifications to the Chuck E Cheese Rat … badges have value – with their own branch of the legal profession to prove it.

The second direction can be quite disruptive to branding.  For example it can cost well over $100K to wear the Harvard “Badge”.  Meanwhile Steve Jobs literally ridiculed Stanford to their collective face(s) with the idea that diverse combinations of knowledge assets are what set the innovation enterprise apart from the old guard.

What if the college degree badge is irrelevant? 

Who is to say and engineer in not an engineer until they take on $2000 more debt for a course in Western Civ.  And, if not Western Civ., then what course denotes the ascension into engineerhood?   A physics major that rules video games, kite surfs, plays in a punk band, and writes decent code is equally, if not more likely, to create a new industry than someone with a CS degree from MIT. Where is that badge?

Badges should be disruptive

What happens when it is no longer important to have “Google” on your resume? Why is it so now? What happens when being a Princeton drop-out is no better or worse than being a drop out from State U?  What happens when people are recognized for their passions and the things that they are naturally good at?  How can a credit score extrapolate success from measuring failure? What happens when there is no badge for the color of one’s skin, physical appearance, or family connections.  What happens when Brands are accountable for the people who wear their badge instead of the other way around?

Badging already exists and in order to improve anything, badges must be disruptive.

So, who is awarding the disruption badges?  

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