Anticipate and Think Exponentially

Daniel Burrus
March 11, 2020

Daniel Burrus

One of the World's Leading Technology Forecasters and Business Strategists
Anticipate and Think Exponentially

Technology-driven change will continue to accelerate at an exponential rate. Now that quantum computing has recently entered an early phase of application, exponential change will accelerate. Therefore, it is time to turn accelerating change into an advantage by leaning to anticipate and think exponentially!

Anticipatory Mindset Takes Advantage of Exponential Tech

Over time, I have come to realize that mindset is everything! The CEO of Sears has a different mindset than the CEO of Amazon. Some people think the good old days are behind us, while others think they are ahead. Either way, some are reactionary, while others are anticipatory.

Consider my writings on anticipation, the importance of an anticipatory mindset, and paying attention to the Hard Trends that are shaping the future both inside and outside of your organization. My Anticipatory Model and methodologies are built on solid foundations, proven to be true when examining how predictable digital disruption is, and how identifying disruptions before they disrupt provides a major advantage over agile reactors to disruptions.

Because exponential change, driven by the Three Digital Accelerators (computing power, bandwidth, and digital storage) will continue to speed up, we need to implement an exponential mindset and thinking in order to take advantage of the increasing pace of change. But what exactly is exponential thinking?

Consider exponential thinking to be more like multiplication, where we take two, multiply it by two, and get four. Then, we take four and multiply it by two to get eight, and so forth, as opposed to linear thinking, where we take two, add two to it and get four, but thereafter add two to four and only get six as a result, falling behind drastically.

Thinking One-Dimensionally in a Multidimensional World

Unfortunately, we often use linear, one-dimensional thinking when we consider how to apply exponential technology. If we continue this way, we squander the true benefits of the exponential technology instead of improving from it. We need to think multidimensionally when presented with a groundbreaking digital improvement to our organizations and our lives.

How does learning to anticipate help this cause? By learning to identify the Hard Trend certainties that will happen, we gain the confidence to make innovative bold moves and see a new dimension to personal and business risk.

Take a simple software that has been a constant in our lives for decades: Microsoft Word. I'll bet you didn't know that there are over 4,000 selectable features in Microsoft Word! I'll also bet that you likely only use maybe a dozen or two of those features.

This is exactly what linear thinking is. We feel compelled to stay in our comfort zone, while that comfort is really just a form of legacy thinking in disguise, fostering an anthropological avoidance relationship with the future. We acknowledge many new features exist, but we find comfort in only mastering a few and pegging ourselves to a job that stays within those parameters.

Learning to use new features of an old-school software like Microsoft Word allows us to do things we didn't know we could do. Development in our careers is most likely found in new features.

Exponential Technology in the Real World

Other individuals have written about exponential technology without ever focusing on the mindset of the user. The two go hand in hand, so how can one fully understand what exponential technology can do without applying exponential thinking? You can't!

Doing things faster without understanding direction leads us astray. This compares to being anticipatory by way of paying attention to the Hard Trends that are shaping the future of your industry and the Soft Trends that you can change. If you're functioning in a reactionary way, you'll always be behind the curve, whereas learning to anticipate will keep you ahead of the curve.

The knowledge that every piece of technology isn't exponential is also vital. Exponential technology is a platform for unlimited growth, driven by those Three Digital Accelerators as mentioned above. A great example is the cloud, where it is nothing until someone applies it to their organization's workflow or utilizes it in conjunction with something they've created. It is a platform with infinite applications.

Anticipate and Think Exponentially

Linear or legacy thinking is causing a plateau in innovation and positive change. When something new is introduced, we often approach it with a process we have developed over time.

Always keep in mind that change is the only constant and life is ambiguous. If you focus all your energy on just one simple thing, eventually you get better and better at just that one thing. Before you know it, something new and disruptive renders your one area of expertise irrelevant and you're left unemployable or out of business.

Approach every piece of exponential technology with an anticipatory mindset using exponential thinking, much like you approach disruption with an anticipatory mindset.

Want to learn how to Anticipate and how to think exponentially? Pick up a copy of my latest book The Anticipatory Organization.

Daniel Burrus

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