The fourth industrial revolution
To understand how much faster the future really is than it seems, let us take a quick look at the past.
We can see how great inventions that have influenced progress over the centuries, are very distant from each other and how this distance is progressively reduced as we approach the present.
- Half of the XV century: the printing press.
- End of XVIII century: the first industrial revolution was about steaming power and mechanization.
- End of XIX century: the second industrial revolution was about electricity and mass production.
- Half XX century: the third industrial revolution was about automation and electronics.
This suggests that the dynamics of scientific and technological progress have always followed not a linear path as we seem to perceive it, but an exponential one.
The greater the distance between the pace of progress and our perception of it, the greater we feel disoriented in the face of such an abundance of new technologies and inventions. This is exactly what we are experiencing and how we feel today: lost and disoriented.
Unlike its predecessors, the fourth industrial revolution is not characterized by a single technology, but by a growing group of exponentially accelerating technologies converging to create an unprecedented disruptive effect in human history.
This convergence effect leads to an abundance of resources to which are added other factors that "further accelerate" (pardon the pun!) such as:
- the increasing computing power available through computers and smartphones,
- the time free from obligations to ensure survival that we enjoy particularly in the industrialized world,
- the unprecedented abundance of funds to finance projects through crowdfunding, venture capital, and crypto-currencies,
- the demonetization and democratization of technologies: falling costs enable their mass dissemination,
- the 5G technology that will allow a more immersive use of the internet at an unprecedented speed,
- the doubling of the world's population connected to the internet,
- the fact that life expectancy has increased by 30% in a century (and the good news is that it continues to rise),
- the entry into the world of work of some 3 billion Generation-Y young people starting from 2020, the first fully digital generation, which is already bringing about an epochal change in communication.
Impacts and effects
The socio-economic impact of these accelerations and the convergence of technologies on the life of companies is increasingly evident.
If we limit ourselves to large companies, in the last 60 years, almost 90% of the Fortune 500 have disappeared and a further 40% are expected to disappear in the next ten years, according to the study of the Washington University St. Louis.
The average lifespan of these companies has fallen from 67 to 15 years.
If we consider SMEs or commercial activities, we find that only 25% of them survive beyond the fifth year of their existence.
What happens? Are entrepreneurs suddenly no longer able to do their job?
Companies of all sizes and in all markets have disappeared, not because they did not have the means to transform themselves, not because of a lack of resources, or because they could not change.
They have disappeared more simply because they did not want to change, they did not know how to adapt to the new reality and they kept on believing that they could manage it by continuing in the only way they had known: that's how they ended up being overwhelmed by change.
Many companies have disappeared (and many will continue to disappear) due to the inability to understand the dynamics of the new millennium: unpredictability, uncertainty, instability are the new market rules that every organization must learn to manage.
To be even more precise, every type of organization must learn to thrive in an increasingly unpredictable context.
No company, governmental organization, or institution in its current configuration is able to keep up with the pace of progress unless it adopts a new organizational model.
As new problems require new solutions, approaches, tools, and methods, those that are unable to adapt, react, or abandon obsolete organizational models based on stability and predictability, will succumb to a new type of organization: the Exponential Organizations (ExO).
Exponential Organizations are the only ones able to compete, grow and thrive natively in today's unstable environment.
They are the ones that adopt the ExO model to scale and leverage accelerating technologies to create 10X the impact of their competitors.
Some of the accelerating technologies leveraged by ExO organizations:
Augmented and virtual reality, Robotics, Cloud, Big data, 3D and 4D printing, IoT, Artificial Intelligence, Sustainable renewable energy, Blockchain and Cryptocurrency, Micro and Nanotechnologies, ...
To better understand the difference between the logic of linear and exponential thinking, let us take an example. If I take thirty linear steps to move from one point to another in a house, I can easily predict the route and where I will stop.
In an exponential progression, where the value doubles one step at a time, on the thirtieth step I will reach 1,073,741,824 which corresponds to 26 times the circumference of Earth. A value that makes it much more difficult to predict the exact point where I will stop.
The example shows 1) how the predictive linear logic of obsolete organizational models is totally inadequate to interpret (let alone govern) today's world and 2) it shows that the ExO are the only organizations able to benefit and thrive in such an unpredictable context.
How to approach the ExO model
The acronym ExO and its related definition refer to "Exponential Organizations" the book was published in 2014 with which the author, Salim Ismail, illustrates the path and method to create exponential organizations.
The organizational model was successfully implemented in the reality of numerous companies and institutions which ultimately aroused interest and stimulated the growth of a global community.
One of the most valuable strengths of the ExO model is the adoption of successful business strategies such as the Lean Startup, the Blue Ocean Strategy, the Business Model Design, the visual design, and Steve Blank's Customer Cycle acquisition.
In recent years, two significant events have transformed the initiative into a global movement and accelerated its success.
The first is the birth of the OpenExO platform: the world's largest ExO transformation ecosystem with a global marketplace, a tokenized economy based on the EXOS, the community's cryptocurrency, where entrepreneurs, consultants, and professionals from around the globe can get certified and collaborate to transform linear organizations into exponential ones.
The second, in 2019, is the publication of the book "Exponential Transformation" which leveraged the experience gained with transformation projects in companies all over the world.
The success of the book has shown the effectiveness of the model applied to companies and organizations all over the globe and explains the steps to successfully complete an ExO transformation.
How to start and where to approach this new ecosystem?
First of all, I recommend reading at least one, or better still, all three of these books:
1) Exponential Organizations, by Salim Ismail,
2) Abundance, by Peter Diamandis,
3) The Singularity is near, by Ray Kurzweil.
It is also recommended to subscribe to the free OpenExO platform to tap into the numerous resources available, to meet other professionals from all over the world with whom to exchange experiences, create a global knowledge network, develop exponential projects or follow certification programs.
We are living in an unprecedented moment in human history, a time of unlimited abundance and technological acceleration.
The ExO model offers entrepreneurs, consultants, and professionals the opportunity to help companies and institutions transform themselves into organizations capable of living and thriving in a highly unpredictable context.
Our mission is to turn as many linear organizations as possible into ExOs or to start new ExOs to create a better world and a better future for all.
Let's face it: today it costs much more to stay the same as before without changing than to transform a linear organization into an exponential one.
Because innovation has always been a matter of mindset, not budget.
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