Seems like an eternity has past since I first launched this Poll on the catalysts that drive human action. As I mentioned back then, one of our Lessons from History was the presence of catalysts that drove actions that ultimately shaped our future. The major catalysts of the second revolution were astounding levels of innovation, World War One, The Great Depression, World War Two, and the eventual democratization of innovation. The question I asked in the poll was: What catalysts force stakeholder actions that ultimately shape our emerging future?
I recently added a new book to my Book Library. Authors Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler explore the acceleration of technology and the Upheaval we are likely to experience in the coming decade. Diamandis and Kotler investigate how exponentially accelerating technologies converge and impact both our lives and society as a whole. They ask key questions like: how will these convergences transform today’s legacy industries? What will happen to the way we raise our kids, govern our nations, and care for our planet?
In this recent Article, the authors describe the future of food in a way that captures the massive change driven by one future scenario: in this case, Food 2.0. Setting aside the changes likely in the form of lab-grown meats and 3D Printed foods, this story is more fundamental: it’s about farming. The article describes the current state of the industry, mostly one in decline.
As a foundational piece of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, 5G is likely to drive the human development that many anticipate. Viewing 5G through the lens of convergence provides an organizing principle that allows us to leverage insight across domains and derive foresight as a result. 5G, the next generation of cellular mobile communications technology, is the best example of convergence – as geopolitics is getting involved in emerging technology decisions and technology discussions are influencing geopolitics.
Many Future Scenarios are spawned by convergence across multiple domains. The most obvious Convergence is occurring between science and technology. I have been posting links to numerous articles that explore possible futures. These futures are important for us to understand, as they usher in a very Pivotal Decade. Here is another set of articles that help us envision the future.
A recent article regarding Moore’s Law explores the winding down of a phenomenon that has impacted the world considerably since Gordon Moore, the founder of Intel, predicted that the number of components that could fit on a microchip would double every year. The article states that Moore’s Law has begun to reach its natural end, as efficiently manufacturing smaller transistors gets more difficult. Author Tom Hoggins projects that by the mid-2020s, the law will have plateaued completely as production costs increase and transistors reach their physical limits.
The pictures I try to paint of our emerging future rely upon the continued expansion of our compute power and its synergistic relationship with energy. An example of a Virtuous Cycle in action, as advances in one area drive compelling reasons for advancement in the other. Realizing innovations’ potential to advance the human development envisioned by my Innovation Wheel relies on continued advancement in both areas. As the author states, Moore’s Law has in some ways eliminated the need for creativity in both design and manufacturing. As it comes to an end, a new era of creativity is likely to bridge the gap between the wind-down and a new computing paradigm such as quantum computing.
We already see creativity in advancements such as neural network processors that support the processing needs of AI solutions. The author strikes a positive tone, as he sees new approaches emerging to both software and processor architecture. The opportunity for innovators and investors is very large.
This recent Article highlights the progress made in brain science, our focus on solving grand world challenges, and the critical need to continue this advancement. The article describes how a paralyzed man using only his brain signals was able to operate, maneuver, and walk in a whole-body robotic exoskeleton. This press release provides more details. The findings could advance efforts to help paralyzed patients drive computers using brain signals alone; “perhaps starting with driving wheelchairs using brain activity instead of joysticks and progressing to developing an exoskeleton for increased mobility,” says Stephan Chabardes, neurosurgeon from the CHU of Grenoble-Alpes, France.
The further Backward you Look, the Further Forward you can See – Winston Churchill
I really like this quote from Winston Churchill. In a previous post on Learning from History, I was trying to say the same thing. One of the key learnings in looking back at our most transformative period (late nineteenth, early twentieth century), was the Convergence that occurred across multiple domains. I had developed a visual to capture a convergence phenomenon that took place over a one hundred year period – some have called this a Special Century. I updated the visual with new content (click the visual to expand). The color scheme shows the convergence that occurred across the business, science, technology, political, societal and economic domains. The red boxes represent the Catalysts that drove this convergence.
In a recent post, I asked my readers to help me identify those catalysts that force the actions required to steer our future towards advancing our human development. Feel free to respond to the Poll. The number one response was the rapid pace of innovation. That response supports my own opinion that the pace will ultimately force stakeholders across multiple domains to take action. Much like the Domain Convergence that occurred during our most Transformative Period in History, convergence is required if we are to take the correct path towards human flourishing.
Our future is very complex. The sheer number of building blocks complicates not just our ability to see the future, but any chance we have to navigate it. As these building blocks combine in ever increasing ways, the challenges multiply. Leaders of tomorrow will move towards systemic leadership, having an ability to connect dots. Innovation will move from a myopic view of offerings to systems innovation.
To accomplish this, systems thinking must be embraced by leaders. Systems thinking is a holistic approach to analysis that focuses on the way that a system’s constituent parts interrelate and how systems work over time and within the context of larger systems. As leaders, we struggle with this holistic approach, choosing instead to focus on short term versus long term, and delivering immediate results versus positioning for the future. This focus is in direct conflict with where our complex future is taking us.
The conversation regarding catalysts that drive human action has been fascinating. This poll initially launched back in February has had a great response – with some great insight. Please take the poll if you have not already.
One of our Lessons from History was the presence of catalysts that drove actions that ultimately shaped our future. The major catalysts of the second revolution were astounding levels of innovation,
World War One, The Great Depression, World War Two, and the eventual democratization of innovation. What catalysts force stakeholder actions that ultimately shape our emerging future? Please help me build on this list and identify the most significant catalysts. Choose all catalysts that you feel will contribute – or add anything that I am missing. For a deeper description of catalysts, please see the lessons from history post.
Future thinking has often focused on a three-horizon framework that allows for the continued advancement of core business, while planning for emerging opportunities. I believe the challenge these days is time compression associated with rapid advancement. When someone says to me: “I’m not worried about five years from now”, my reaction is always the same. What looks to be five years out is likely only 18 months away: A phenomenon I describe in this piece on Acceleration.
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.
In my last post, I explored the evolution of business in the industrial age. This Fourth Iteration of Business establishes resilience on a foundation of automation and intelligence. Resilience may be more important than the productivity gains that are sure to be realized as we progress towards Business 4.0, providing the capacity to recover quickly as the pace of shifts accelerates. This visual represents a strategic foundation for Business 4.0.
This recent Article focuses on the failure of MBA programs to prepare leaders and innovators to cope with a fast-changing world: leaders that can put the long-term health of their company and customers first. Here is the bottom line straight from the article:
Far from empowering business, MBA education has fostered the sort of short-term, balance-sheet-oriented thinking that is threatening the economic competitiveness of the country as a whole. If you wonder why most businesses still think of shareholders as their main priority or treat skilled labor as a cost rather than an asset – or why 80 percent of CEOs surveyed in one study said they’d pass up making an investment that would fuel a decade’s worth of innovation if it meant they’d miss a quarter of earnings results – it’s because that’s exactly what they are being educated to do
I had the pleasure of talking to Taimour Zaman of 8 Billion Acts of Innovation today. They have a TV show focused on Artificial Intelligence, with some incredible stories about current innovation in the field.
The 8 Billion Acts of Innovation venture capital TV show is focused exclusively on artificial intelligence. Recently introduced in Toronto, Canada by investment visionaries Sai Mohammed and Taimour Zaman, AI companies present their business cases and compete for venture capital financing. It’s the only show of its kind in the world, now being viewed by over 3 million people.
$20+ Million of Funding per Show
The show’s panel of investors are senior ‘C-level’ executives whose job is to assess AI companies’ business and financial potential. The funds are put up by Curah Capital, a Toronto-based private venture capital firm involved in real estate and technology.
Mr. Mohammed and Mr. Zaman’s objectives for their show:
1) Worldwide popularity via expanded TV coverage
2) Attract top AI companies from across the world
3) Award ever-larger funding amounts, and
4) Develop financed-firms into celebrated successes
We covered a wide variety of topics in this short video.
In segment two of my interview with Chunka Mui, we picked up our conversation with the driverless car scenario. Chunka Mui is the managing director of the Devil’s Advocate Group, a consulting team that helps organizations design and stress test their innovation strategies. Mr. Mui published a popular book titled The New Killer Apps.
Key points of discussion were:
- If we eliminate auto fatalities, what happens to the need for auto insurance?
- How to think about the timing of the autonomous vehicle scenario
- The arms race towards the automotive ecosystem
- Eliminating 90% of human accidents is plausible
- Critical mass not needed to feel the impact of this scenario
- From predicting to rehearsing – a portfolio of options
- Understanding milestones, markers, obstacles and accelerants
- Understanding extreme scenarios
- Understanding the path of science and technology
Here is a six minute animated version of our segment two discussion that picks up where segment one left off:
You can view segment one here.
Download A PDF Version of the Transcript
The convergence that is steering our emerging future manifests itself through a number of scenarios that drive multiple paradigm shifts. As the shifts themselves converge, they intensify the critical need for leaders to think differently about a world where the future arrives faster than people think. Some time ago, I had a great conversation with Chunka Mui regarding pace, the sheer number of shifts, and the need to think differently. We used the autonomous vehicle to explore the challenges of our emerging future. I will present the full discussion in five short segments, along with white board animation to visualize our dialog.
Chunka Mui is the managing director of the Devil’s Advocate Group, a consulting team that helps organizations design and stress test their innovation strategies. As a consultant on strategy and innovation, Mr. Mui has spent considerable time analyzing the autonomous vehicle scenario. He asked a question in his book The New Killer Apps about autonomous vehicles and what happens if traffic accidents are reduced by 90% as Google predicts. This simple question makes visible the broad and deep implications of these future scenarios. As society responds to their implications, new ecosystems emerge that alter our world. In this case, the vehicle is one of numerous components of an emerging mobility ecosystem that is defined by the responses that are playing out right now.
Here is the first of the five segments:
Singularity University has been talking about purpose for some time now. They describe a focus that is audaciously big and aspirational, causing significant transformation to an Industry, community, or the planet. There is a clear “why” behind the work being done, something that unites and inspires action. They call this a Massive Transformative Purpose.
A focus on purpose has a motivating effect with the potential to trigger incredible outcomes. A proven approach in high-growth organizations according to Singularity University, with a focus on purpose in common across the 100 fastest growing organizations. In an era that challenges much of our belief system, an aspirational quality of purpose is a mechanism that helps us think differently. Shared passion within communities and shifting generational views of mission-driven work can fuel the fires of purpose. An organizational focus on purpose is a vehicle for attracting and retaining top qualified talent. A purpose that is aspirational and focused on creating a different future is what ignites passion in individuals and groups; it’s what engages people’s hearts and minds to work together to realize their goal. Breakthroughs in science and technology can be linked to the deeply unifying and motivating ability of purpose. Setting out to solve big problems brings purpose and meaning to work. The more we organize around purpose, the better the outcomes and the more fulfilled we will be with our work.
TCS and the Clayton Christensen Institute have collaborated to produce a series of articles and whitepapers that explore the future of industries through the lens of a set of fundamental theories developed by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen (Mr. Christensen is a TCS Board member). The theories offer a form of what-if analysis that leaders can leverage to better understand the cause and effect between actions and results. These theories include Disruption Theory, the Theory of Jobs to Be Done, and Modularity Theory. In this case, the author focuses on the disruptive potential of innovation, and this first piece in the series tackles Disruption in the Banking Industry.