“There is really only one way to live in a world of speed, surprise, noise, and responsiveness, and that’s to visit the future frequently.”—Grant McCracken
We’ve all heard the axiom that the larger the ship, the more time and effort are required to change its course. That tends to be true in enterprise organizations in the process of reinventing themselves for future growth, and it’s especially true in more successful organizations. Why?Fear is a great mobilizer, and if you’re working in a traditional business and your bottom line is under attack by dozens of nimble startups, the need for reinvention becomes very clear and urgent. But if your organization has achieved steady growth and profits over time, it can be tougher to convince your board and executive team that major changes are urgently needed.Because we’re in an era of accelerating change, enterprise organizations who are not actively engaging in future planning, investing in exponential technologies and running experiments may be putting themselves at risk.
For example, organizations around the world are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to create business value and drive the development of breakthrough future products. Research by MIT Sloan Management Review in 2018 surveyed more than 3,000 global executives on their adoption and application of AI technologies. The clear result is that AI early adopters—organizations that are committed to understanding and deploying AI projects and building revenue-generating applications—are pulling ahead of their more circumspect counterparts. The research divided respondents into four categories:18%Pioneers: Understand, adopt, and invest in AI33%Investigators: Understand AI but have not deployed beyond pilot stages16%Experimenters: Are piloting AI projects but still learning its relevant applications34%Passives: No significant understanding or adoption of AIThe top-tier organizations represented in the 18% of respondents who invest heavily in AI are setting the stage to reap the benefits on a massive scale (and may turn out to be another example of the Pareto Principle, in which 80% of the outcomes come from 20% of participants). These industry-leading companies are increasing their investments and implementing AI for both internal efficiencies and revenue growth. The organizations that don’t fully understand AI or actively invest in AI projects will find it difficult to catch up.AI is only one example. In your industry, relevant exponential technologies may include quantum computing, blockchain, or CRISPR. It is up to each of us to identify and leverage the exponential technologies that are most impactful to our own organizations.
Here are six steps enterprise organizations can take to foster exponential growth as they look to the future:
"There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about."—Margaret J. Wheatley
Every organization is facing the same headwinds in preparing to face a future of accelerating change. Your partners, peers, and competitors are all in the same struggle to unlock the opportunities and technologies that will help you achieve future scale more rapidly. First-mover companies built on platforms of exponential technologies may gain adoption and scale so quickly that it’s nearly impossible to catch up.It’s becoming clear that speed wins, and lack of speed kills innovation—and endangers future survival. One step you can take to move faster is to connect with the SU global community, an innovation ecosystem with nearly 70,000 members from 61 countries. It’s free to join and offers a unique opportunity to share your own experiences and gain knowledge from the learnings and experiences of other community members. You can find and be found by a fascinating array of people with diverse experiences and backgrounds, and perhaps there is a future “uncommon partnership” waiting for you!