Exponential Growth vs Linear Thinking in management teams

At the Fortune Growth Summit a few weeks ago we were fortunate enough to see Salim Ismail, founder of Singularity University talk about how Exponential Growth takes about 40 years to start, but then catches everyone by surprise, mostly the industry experts. Initially people are very excited about the changes new technology can bring, and then as this doesn’t immediately change the world, people are disappointed and go back to the normal way of being. From there the technology or change gradually builds momentum in the background to being it’s exponential growth.

This is best explained in the graph below;

Deception of linear vs exponential


Some of the more interesting facts from the presentation include;

  • Today’s smartphone has the same computing power as the whole US government in 1983
  • 3D printing is the only technology where a more complex object doesn’t cost more to make
  • 6 US states now have licensed autonomous vehicles (cars that drive themselves)
  • Googles driverless cars have now done more than 750,000 miles without one accident. No human could achieve this
  • By 2020 sola would have changed 3000 times relative to the price of coal
  • The average lifespan of an S&P 500 company has gone from 67 years in the 1920’s to 12 years today
  • Changes to autonomous cars means that his 3 year old son will not get a drivers licence (as cars will drive themselves in 14 years) and it will prevent 30,000 road deaths in the US

What’s the best way to avoid missing an emerging exponential technology which could make your business model redundant? Consider spending time regularly at strategic planning days to analyse your SWOT and SWT (Strengths, Weaknesses and Trends).

Salim’s book Exponential Organizations is also available here.

Below is an interview with Verne Harnish at the Fortune Growth Summit 2014 and Salim Ismail speaking earlier this year.



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