Well hello, again, friends. I’m sorry for not writing last week, but I’m, sadly, a man of routine. And when my routine gets even a little bit mangled, I struggle to perform even ordinary tasks. Oh, OK, I’m kind of moving into hyperbolic territory.
What happened, seriously, is that I flew to Los Angeles for a wedding last Friday and didn’t return to the great state of Colorado until Sunday. By then, I was so far behind with all my work that I struggled to catch up for a few days. At some point, it became inevitable that something wouldn’t get done and, sadly, this column became that something.
To you, I apologize. I hope I can be forgiven. I will never do this again (maybe). Please forgive me. I want to re-earn your trust.
OK, enough of the silly preamble. It’s time to talk some Survivor and some theory. Thankfully, in the two weeks since I last wrote, Laurel, the lone remaining player on my fantasy team and my esteemed Winner Pick™, is only looking better than ever. I’m relatively confident, knock on some wood or laminate stuff made to look like wood, that she will make it to the merge. That would be a huge accomplishment for one of my Winner Picks™.
Anyway, so what we had this week sure seemed like a relic of the past, huh? That was so very clearly an old-school Survivor episode with a classic Pagonging happening and absolutely no idols or advantages in play. In some ways, it was refreshing. In other ways, it made for boring television. But it also highlighted two things: Producers have become far superior in creating dramatic tension in otherwise boring episodes than they were a decade ago. And, second, I still love Stephanie and was sad to see her go. Boo hoo.
But why Stephanie and not Michael or Jenna? Well, I think without any theory or much thought at all, we can clearly understand why Jenna stayed: She will be absolutely no threat to the other Malolo members. She’s an early post-merge boot. That’s just the way it is with people like her most of the time. So, the question was always Stephanie or Michael. We know that in seasons past, the chance to boot a physical threat like Michael would have been too alluring for a tribe to go with any other choice. That’s obvious, right?
We’ve done it once before, a couple seasons ago, but let’s talk the theory of disruptive innovation, a theoretical framework introduced by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen. As I mentioned back then, this book was so successful Christensen did something that all of us academics wish we could: He wrote an academic book that sold well enough to make the New York Times Best Sellers list.
Basically, the idea behind the theory is that there are times that an innovation enters an industry (or something similar) and becomes so impactful that it not only affects an industry, but it disrupts it so thoroughly that its normative behaviors and beliefs are threatened or, even, toppled.
Obviously, the theory traditionally gets applied in business research as a means of trying to understand how companies succeed or fail in the face of a drastically changing technological landscape. In fact, at first, Christensen called it the theory of disruptive technology. But he changed it because he soon realized people force change and innovation, not the technology.
Think about something like data storage. Even just a decade or so ago, we’d need blank CDs or huge external hard drives to even store 100 megabytes. I mean, people often blame the downfall of the music industry on MP3s. But that’s not accurate, right? It was actually data storage. Once MP3 players, of some sort, could hold more than like 100 songs, the technology took off. Data storage and the ease with which you could attain more storage disrupted several industries. It completely changed how many companies operate.
And that brings us to Survivor. I know I’ve complained about this, but there is no denying that producers incorporate puzzles into challenges far, far more often. And, really, they are the only thing that matters in said challenges. Teams or individuals can get way ahead of the competition only to see their leads evaporate at the puzzle. That’s what producers want.
But this is a huge disruption in the game. Before this change, strong, physical players had a decided advantage on Survivor. Now, I think it’s actually the opposite. Most challenges—and again, I kind of dislike this—revolve around puzzles or balancing. Big physical players like Michael aren’t nearly as much of a threat anymore. In reality, smart players and yoga instructors like Stephanie are a much, much bigger threat.
And that brings us to what happened this week. Years ago, before producers introduced such a major disruptive innovation to the game, Michael would have received the boot this week. But now, well things are different and good players are adapting to the disruption. And, that, my friends is why Stephanie, my love, is sitting at home.
OK, so that’s it for the theory. Let’s talk about the remaining players:
That’s it on this end. Let’s all hope this season continues impressing.
Pat Ferrucci started watching Survivor when episode two of Borneo first aired. He's seen every episode since. Besides recapping here, he'll be live-tweeting this season from the Mountain Time Zone. Why? Because nobody cares about the Mountain Time Zone except when they want to ski. Follow him @PatFerrucci for Survivor stuff and tweets about anything and everything that enters his feeble mind.