Till now there has been a dearth of well researched, authoritative literature on exponential change, the opportunities it brings for entrepreneurs and the implications for the leaders of industry incumbent organisations large and small. That all changed a little over a week ago with the publication of a book called "Exponential Organizations".
"Exponential Organizations" was authored by Salim Ismail and a team from Singularity University based at NASA's Ames Research Centre in Silicon Valley.
This book is a "must read". It's a "must read" because it brings together a discussion of the following into a single, comprehensive, instructional volume:
- The exponential nature of technological change
- The exponential impact and scale being achieved by organisations exhibiting a distinctive, new set of features (Exponential Organisations)
- The threat and opportunity this poses to industry incumbents operating business and intellectual systems that are more linear and local than global and exponential
- The implications (recommendations and actions) for people starting new businesses
- The implications (recommendations and actions) for senior executives in industry incumbents
You'll find a great slide presentation outlining some of the key ideas in the book at the following link - Exponential Organizations on slideshare.
The book is full of examples and case studies and the authors have pulled off the considerable feat of crafting a volume that has something in it for a wide range of audiences. Whether you're a technology boffin, a business strategist, an executive in an industry incumbent, an entrepreneur or a consultant, it's rich in learning for people facing the challenge of ensuring their business or organisation is relevant in the future..
The only deficiency in the work is that I think too little consideration is given to the challenge faced by industry incumbents in actually developing the characteristics of the exemplar "Exponential Organizations" described in the book. My experience is that just knowing about exponential change and the vulnerabilities and opportunities it creates is rarely enough. There's a profoundly deep inertia in most large organisations that's the product of:
- An intense fear of giving up the tried and tested, profitable known for the speculative, untested, risky unknown (that's not such a big deal for an entrepreneur but it's a massive leap of faith for the CEO of a major organisation)
- Entrenched power structures (including intense internal politics and rivalries)
- Deep seated beliefs and assumptions (usually untested and out of date) about what really drives success in an industry
Discussion of the items noted above may well be a subject for a different volume and in no way detracts from the importance or value of "Exponential Organizations".
I'm not sure that this book contains the complete answer, but I am sure that it contains and connects a large number of the pieces required to find the answer. If you're serious about building a business that's fit for, and relevant in, tomorrow's world then you need to read this book.