Exponential Change: Prepare for Disruption

Exponential change, exponential technologies, exponential this and that….the latest buzz words to hit the world of business. So is it just hype? Having spent three days at the SingularityU New Zealand Summit recently I think exponential thinking is increasingly important.  The rapid pace of technological change isn’t just about acceleration. It’s also about convergence and recombining, which has the effect of amplifying change. It’s disruptive.

It’s about disruption not just innovation. What’s the difference? Singularity University faculty member David Roberts describes it like this:

Innovation is doing the same things better.

Disruption is doing new things  that make the old things obsolete.

With the exponential change amplified by technology, markets will change even more rapidly. It will be easier to be blindsided. That’s why it is important to be looking outside your own industry – that’s likely to be where the disruption will come from.  This disruption won’t wait for the greater majority to think it is time for change. The world never ran out of horse buggies, typewriters or photographic film but these tools pretty much found themselves without much of a market because their industries were disrupted.

In her talk on education, the Board Chair of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) talked of disruption. She challenged those present to think about the changing world, what they had heard at the Summit, and how everyone needed to be part of the change. The mandate is clear. Education is a key driver of this change and currently it is holding us back. Sue shared the trends of moving away from regulation to permissionless innovation. I have recreated her table below and taken the liberty of adding several other ideas:

One of the gasping moments was when Sue said that qualifications were a thing of the past and we need to head towards verification. The nature of credentials is already changing and  I’ll share some of the signals in a later post. Meanwhile, check out Sue’s talk at SingularityU NZ Summit and read some of the other fine blogposts that will provoke your thinking – and show you what you missed out on. It was a real treat!

I’ve listed four other posts that outline others’ thinking about the SingularityU New Zealand Summit. Check them out for more information, then start a conversation. We are the actors in this play!





If you want to consider how you, or your organisation, can start thinking differently check out my blogpost on Strategic Thinking. You don’t need a huge plan, but you do need to take one small action, with an eye to the future.


About Cheryl Doig

Cheryl Doig is a leadership futurist who works internationally and virtually with organisations, leadership teams and business leaders. She has the unique ability to weave the latest leadership trends with practical strategies and tools, based on her experience in learning, leadership and governance. Her company, Think Beyond Ltd, focuses on challenging and supporting leaders to create outstanding futures. www.thinkbeyond.co.nz

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