Future Thinking

I’m struggling with the term disruption and its effectiveness in driving urgency. Most definitions describe a radical change in an industry or business strategy, and most involve the introduction of a new product or service that creates a new market. My struggle is not with this decades old view of disruption, but its application in the context of our exponential world. The word disruption is viewed through a traditional lens. I end up in debates about the validity of a disruptive scenario as viewed through this lens, versus the massive implications of these future scenarios viewed through an exponential lens. The ensuing dialog focuses on:

  • Coming up with disruptive innovation before our competitors do
  • Embracing protectionist behavior to block a disruptor
  • I’m not worried, regulatory hurdles in my industry block the impact of disruptors
  • I’m safe, my industry is very stable

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Expanding Disruptive Scenarios

The pace of change is such that no forward looking visual can stay static for too long. I have therefore updated the anchor visual that looks at the digital platform, the innovation accelerators, and the disruptive scenarios that result from the convergence of societal progression, science, and technology. It is impossible to capture the current environment in one visual, but I hope what has been captured drives a clear message: there is a lot happening, on a rapid pace, and its convergent effects are multiplicative. There are several changes to the visual, and my thanks to the authors of The Future of Business for their inspiration:

Disruptive Scenarios

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The Future of Business

To the readers of my Blog: a fascinating book titled The Future of Business was released last week. The lead Editor for the book was Rohit Talwar, CEO of Fast Future Research and Fast Future Publishing. This is a must read for anyone interested in where the world is going in the next 20 years, and its broad implications for individuals, society, business and government. From Mr. Talwar:

“The Future of Business is the first book in the FutureScapes series. The book focuses on the critical social and economic forces, business trends, disruptive technologies, breakthrough developments in science and new ideas that could reshape the commercial environment over the next two decades. It explores how these future factors could come together to force a fundamental rethinking of the purpose,  strategy, business models, values and structures of organizations as they seek to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing reality.”

I highly recommend this book

Re-Ranking the Fortune 100

In a recent post, I discussed a book on exponential organizations co-authored by Salim Ismail, Global Ambassador for Singularity University. In a Video from this week’s Exponential Finance conference, Mr. Ismail showcased their work on an Exponential Quotient that scores companies on organizational factors that determine how well they are positioned to succeed in an exponential world. This exponential quotient results from a diagnostic survey that asks 21 questions (each graded 1-4) about how companies have structured their products, services, and internal framework. At the end of the diagnostic, an Exponential Quotient score is determined.

The folks at Singularity University used this quotient to create The ExO Fortune 100 – a re-ranking of the current Fortune 100. The scoring was ratified by academic researchers at Hult Business School. I’ve re-printed a list from their site that shows some of the elements of the survey and the key attributes of ExOs that are being tested.

External facing questions

  • Does it have a Massive, Transformative Purpose, (or MTP)?
  • How externalized are business functions?
  • How much are on-demand staff and on-demand assets utilized?
  • How well are Community and Crowd leveraged?
  • Are algorithms a core part of the organization?
  • How information based are its products and services?

Internal facing questions

  • How well are interfaces created to manage external scalability?
  • Are OKRs and Lean Metrics used to track performance?
  • How well does the organization encourage risk-taking and experimentation?
  • Does the organization operate top-down, command and control hierarchies, or flat, autonomous, collaborative team structures?
  • How well are social technologies integrated into the organization?

Here is a snapshot of the re-ranked Fortune 100:

ExO Ranking

As I said in my post on exponential organizations, there remains a single constant: it will take a different type of organization – different than the ones most of us grew up with – to survive the coming shift. The attributes or characteristics that create this different type of organization are getting clearer. It’s up to us to create it.

For a full list of the Fortune 100 and their associated ExO rank, please download this Spreadsheet

Technology versus Humans

Futurist Gerd Leonhard recently released a new short 3 minute film titled Technology versus Humans. Here is an excerpt from his Blog announcing the video:

“I am very excited to announce the release of my new short film “Technology versus Humanity”. This film marks the beginning of a new period for me, with much of my future work focusing on the topic of how exponential technological changes are changing what and who we are, as humans, where this is going in the next 15 years, and what we need to do, TODAY, to make sure that these changes will indeed be beneficial to us.

For this film, I was very fortunate to be able to team up with Story7 and Jean Francois Cardella as producer and director, and Jeremy Joly as DOP. They made this film very special – thanks!  We shot most of the footage in Cannes and the surrounding area – see some of the pics below.  If you like this movie, please share it and spread the word, or submit a comment below and let me know what you think.  Thanks!  New hashtag as of today:  #techversushuman

Gerd was kind enough to do an interview with me back in January. You can read that here. Enjoy the film

Structural Change: Decentralization

I had the pleasure of joining The Digital World with Game Changers radio program for the second time this year. Joining me as panelists were Futurist Gray Scott and SAP Innovation Evangelist Timo Elliott. First, kudos to program host Bonnie D. Graham for doing a wonderful job keeping the discussion energized and interesting. The title of the session was Eating Disruption for Lunch: Digesting Decentralization. Now there’s a term not heard much outside of futurist circles. Decentralization is one of those structural changes that make what lies ahead so impactful. According to Wikipedia, decentralization is the process of redistributing or dispersing functions, powers, people, or things away from a central location or authority.

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Disruptive Power Lies at the Intersections

When I first started using the term “Combinatorial”, people thought I was making words up. Although I’d like to take credit for the word, I first came across it when reading The Second Machine Age, a fascinating book by Andrew McAfee and Eric Brynjolfsson. I remember thinking that it was a perfect word to capture the amplification of both innovation and its disruptive power. By now, readers of this Blog have seen the foundational Visual that describes the digital foundation, innovation accelerators, and disruptive scenarios. What the visual does not convey without the associated narrative is the power of combinatorial.

If we build on top of the visual, we begin to see the complexity at the intersections, the amplification of disruptive power, and the broad implications for the future.

Combinatorial Innovation

The best way to describe this phenomenon is through examples, so let’s look at six combinatorial scenarios as an overlay. The visual is a bit overwhelming, so a better way to follow the various paths is via this PDF. Here is a description of each scenario. The numbers in the visual above map to the scenarios below, and the colors show the combinations: 

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