Future-Casting: Exploring An Exponential Mindset

“It is in the nature of exponential growth that events develop extremely slowly for extremely long periods of time, but as one glides through the knee of the curve, events erupt at an increasingly furious pace.  And that is what we will experience as we enter the twenty-first century.”  -via Ray Kurzweil Director of Engineering at Google and author of The Singularity Is Near

The future is not static…in fact, it is one of the greatest design challenges we face in today’s modern world.

And yet, what we often find is that we are ill-equipped for the future-casting necessary to better prepare ourselves for a world that has learned to accelerate the pace of our societal shifts.  In most cases, we find that we are not hard-wired for the non-linear, ‘around the corner’ thinking required to deal with the explosive shifts we are witnessing across society’s digital landscape.  In fact, we are hard-wired for a much more incremental, linear and predictable approach to change.

Which is leading to individual disconnects and an organizational decoupling.

As Moore’s Law and the Law of Accelerating Returns continues to play out, we become much more observant of the turbulent and exponential pace that is pushing greater levels of digital and technological disruption and transformation.  As Kurzweil shares in the Law of Accelerating Returns which states that “fundamental measures of information technology follow predictable and exponential trajectories.  The reality of information technology is it progresses exponentially.  30 steps linearly gets you to 30.  One, two, three, four, step 30 and you’re at 30.  With exponential growth, it’s one, two, four, eight.  Step 30, you’re at a billion.”

Which adds to the individual disconnects and organizational decoupling in today’s world.  When our mindsets are linearly and incrementally-focused, when our mental models are entrenched in the past and we find ourselves unable to see the possibilities of the future, we struggle to comprehend and enable a mindset that allows us to move past current limitations that inhibit us from dealing more effectively with the sheer pace and explosive magnitude of exponential growth.

As Peter Diamondis shares, “As humans we are biased to think linearly.  As entrepreneurs, we need to think exponentially.”  Diamondis adds, “People need to understand how exponential technologies are impacting the business landscape.  The need to do some future-casting and look at how industries are evolving and being transformed.”  

And not just business, but in education.  Today’s educators must be much more aware of these exponential shifts and how they are disrupting the future of work and how that disruption has deep implications for the focus of education if we are to prepare more effectively for the future of our students.

However, it is not just individuals who are hard-wired to progress in more incremental, predictable and linear ways, it is also entrenched and ingrained in our leadership, organizations and systems.  Which is leading to this decoupling between the digital and technological transformation taking place across the societal landscape and the speed at which our organizations are innovating and evolving into this much more unpredictable future.

So while this digital and technological transformation is shuttling forward at an often incomprehensible rate, many of our organizations remain buried in the stasis and status quo of linear reform efforts. 

Which is not to say that our organizations should or must move at the same turbulent pace of this transformational pace of change, however that is not to say that change isn’t necessary or needed.  In fact, the current pace at which we are innovating our organizations forward is leading to this decoupling which is leading many of our current organizations into future irrelevance.

In many ways, we need leaders and organizations that can begin to incorporate a very different way of thinking.  We need leaders and organizations that can begin to take on an exponential mindset.  A mindset that allows them to not only move beyond linear ways of thinking and reacting, but can allow them to connect dots that move them forward in a much more innovative, agile, adaptive, and relevant manner, especially as the disruptive manner of change in today’s world levies itself down upon our organizational structures, processes and systems.

As Jason Silva shares, “exponential emerging technological change runs counter-intuitive to the way our linear brains make projections about change, and so we don’t realize how fast the future if coming.”

Be clear, this is not about change for change’s sake.  This is not about engaging constant disruption.  Rather, it is about engaging a mindset (exponential) that allows our individuals, leadership and organizations to comprehend and reflect upon the linear nature that holds us back from engaging greater visions and seeing the plethora of new possibilities that lay before us.

So I will leave you (for now), with these words to reflect upon from Ray Kurzweil…

“Intuition is linear, our imaginations are weak.  Even the brightest of us only extrapolate from what we know now; for the most part, we’re afraid to really stretch.”  

 

 

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