The Exponential Four

Abundance Personal leadership Transformation


Key Point: Leading through all the exponential transformation right in front of us will require the “refresh button” to be pressed on leadership. The day before this blog is published, 60 of our leaders will have spent a few hours on this topic with Lisa Kay Solomon, Chair and Managing Director of Transformational Practices at Singularity University. Lisa is a supreme thought leader, and as a gift to you, I want to share the four key attributes Lisa will discuss with us. I’ve referenced these in the past, and now want to dig deeper by passing on an abbreviated excerpt from a Singularity newsletter authored by Lisa. The Exponential Four according to Lisa and Singularity:

The Futurist

The first skill of exponential leadership is learning to transform surprise into mindful anticipation. To do this, leaders have to become skilled futurists.

This does not mean simply extrapolating today’s pace of change into the future. It means imagining new possibilities boldly and optimistically—and understanding they are quite likely to arise sooner than expected. Leaders will have to get equally comfortable with what can be known and with exploring what is unknown.

As futurists, leaders need to get comfortable asking open-ended questions about unspoken assumptions to see new possibilities. They need to be curious about the future and blend imaginative practices of strategic foresight, futures backcasting, science fiction design and scenario planning into traditional business planning.

The Innovator

In addition to imagining a range of new futures, leaders must also act as innovators, discovering new ideas through creative ideation and rigorous experimentation. These days, great product ideas can come from a single tweet or a surprising customer interaction and be tested with a working prototype in less than 24 hours.

When leaders embrace their role as innovators, they realize they must always be thinking about the customer. They use human-centered processes, such as observation and questioning, to collect insights; they use visual thinking and storytelling skills to share hypotheses and ideas quickly and effectively; and they embrace a growth mindset to test and gather evidence on what they’ve learned.

Rigorous innovators do this continually, iterating over and over to uncover opportunities obscured by the fog of uncertainty.

The Technologist

As technology innovation accelerates, leaders have to understand which technologies will directly impact their industry and which will affect adjacent industries. Increasingly, technology can digitize, manipulate and replace physical products and services, challenging the status quo of many existing companies.

The best way to understand technological change is not to read about it, but to experience it first-hand by learning to code, building or manipulating a simple robot, trying new products and services that go beyond what’s familiar or comfortable, and seeking the resources of innovation and experimentation.

This will require a whole new set of discussions and decisions in the boardrooms of every corporation, new behaviors and norms in every product development lab, and new ways of educating, rewarding (and even penalizing) tomorrow’s leaders.

The Humanitarian

Exponential leaders use the skills and behaviors of futurist, innovator and technologist to improve the lives of the people they touch, and society as a whole. They aim to do well by doing good—not as a separate set of ‘corporate social responsibility’ activities, but as part of the integrated company mission.

Leading as a humanitarian can mean explicitly building a business using technology to create positive impact. B corporations, for example, are for-profit companies certified to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. It can also mean investing in humane policies and practices that create a positive culture and a meaningful work environment. A workplace that inspires employees and partners to strive toward their full potential.”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Self evaluate where you are on each of the four exponential leadership dimensions. Challenge yourself to advance in each area. How might you grow more in each? How might you be 10X better in one or more area by the end of 2018?
  2. As we always suggest: Think BIG, start SMALL AND act NOW… And you will become more of an exponential leader!!

All Four in Personal Leadership,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: Millennials should look how they can become futurists, innovators, technologists and humanitarians on their own teams or in small management roles. While leaders should be encouraging their organizations to engage in the Exponential Four, we have the control to start implementing these practices in our own routines and mindsets. The worst that can happen is we’ll be best prepared to become great leaders in the future.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis