As I described in my Thoughts on 2019 post, acceleration is the second major theme for me in 2019. The pace of innovation and change is often cited as a key difference between the next revolution and prior ones. We even came up with a catchy phrase to describe it: exponential progression. How did we come upon the notion that we live in world that is now moving at an exponential versus linear pace? Some explain it with a story; we have entered the second half of the chess board. Ray Kurzweil an American author, inventor, futurist, and director of engineering at Google describes the second half of the chessboard as follows: once you reach the second half of the chessboard, changes are exponential.  Each new square doubling that of the previous. Moore’s Law is said to have entered the second half of the chess board in 2013. A good description of this phenomenon can be found here.

This doubling accelerates the path to innovation. With an endless supply of building blocks fueling rapid value-creating combinations, this effect is amplified. While the window to realize value from innovation has shortened, there is a Rising Speed of Technological Adoption. Jeff Desjardins, Editor-in-Chief of Visual Capitalist, had this to say:

In the modern world, through increased connectivity, instant communication, and established infrastructure systems, new ideas and products can spread at speeds never seen before – and this enables a new product to get in the hands of consumers in the blink of an eye. Why do newer technologies get adopted so quickly? It seems partly because modern tech needs less infrastructure in contrast with the water pipes, cable lines, electricity grids, and telephone wires that had to be installed throughout the 20th century. However, it also says something else about today’s consumers – which is that they are connected, fast-acting, and not afraid to adopt the new technologies that can quickly impact their lives for the better.

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What to Expect in 2019

With the start of a new year, the traditional focus on predictions has begun. Prognosticators do so at their own peril – as this New Yorker Article clearly articulates. It seems that in 1968,  the Foreign Policy Association (formed in 1918 to promote the League of Nations), celebrated its fiftieth anniversary by publishing a book of predictions about what the world would look like in fifty years. Well, here we are fifty years later, and if history is any guide, futurists have very little credibility. Although predictions these days may be even more difficult given our complex systems are progressing and scaling at an unprecedented rate, a macro-level focus can provide an ability to scan beyond the horizon. So rather than attempt to predict, here are my 2019 thoughts on several macro-level forces.

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Techno-Philanthropists Drive Exponential Progression

A group of billionaires have pledged one billion dollars to fund radical new energy technologies. Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) is an investment fund that aims to accelerate energy innovation and disrupt the energy industry. This Bill Gates brainchild managed to secure a host of high-profile investors, including Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Jack Ma, and Michael Bloomberg – and they’ve just announced their First Seven Investments.

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Exponential Organizations

Starting in 2011, I focused on the notion of a digital enterprise – a metaphor for the type of organization that is required to survive the massive paradigm shift that lies ahead. In 2013, the focus expanded to analyze disruptive scenarios and the emerging ecosystems and platforms that would give life to those scenarios. There remains a single constant through this work and the many leadership discussions that ensued: it will take a different type of organization – different than the ones most of us grew up with – to survive the shift. We as humans – and the organizations that we created – think and act linearly. The world and technology however is moving exponentially. How then do people and organizations move from linear thinking to exponential thinking? Continue reading