Autor Salim Ismail
Welcome to a time of exponential change, the most amazing time ever to be
In the pages that follow, Salim Ismail, my colleague, friend and one of
the leading thinkers and practitioners on the future of organizations, offers
you a first look at what this new world will look like—and how it will
change the way you work and live. Salim has studied and interviewed
CEOs and entrepreneurs whose companies are leveraging a newly available
set of externalities and, as a result, scaling their organizations at many times
the normal rate of typical companies. More important, he’s thought deeply
about and analyzed how existing organizations need to adapt. For this
reason, I can’t think of a more perfect guide to those CEOs and executives
interested in thriving during this time of disruptive change.
Have no doubt, Exponential Organizations: Why New Organizations are
Ten Times Better, Faster and Cheaper Than Yours (And What To Do About
It) is both a roadmap and a survival guide for the CEO, the entrepreneur
and, most of all, the executive of the future. Congratulations on the
successes that got you to this point in your career, but let me forewarn you
that those skills are already out of date. The concepts in this book and the
conversations that they spark are the new lingua franca for anyone wanting
to remain competitive and stay in the game. In today’s corporate world
there is a new breed of institutional organism—the Exponential
Organization—loose on Earth, and if you don’t understand it, prepare for it
and, ultimately, become it, you will be disrupted.
The concept of the Exponential Organization (ExO) first arose at
Singularity University, which I co-founded in 2008 with noted futurist,
author, entrepreneur-turned-AI director at Google, Ray Kurzweil. The goal
was to create a new kind of university, one whose curriculum was
constantly being updated. For that reason SU was never accredited—not
because we didn’t care, but because the curriculum was changing too fast.
SU would focus only on the exponentially growing (or accelerating
technologies) that were riding on the back of Moore’s Law. Areas like
infinite computing, sensors, networks, artificial intelligence, robotics,
digital manufacturing, synthetic biology, digital medicine and
nanomaterials. By design and desire, our students would be the world’s top
entrepreneurs, as well as executives from Fortune 500 companies. Our
mission: to help people positively impact the lives of a billion people.
The idea for SU came together at a Founding Conference hosted at
NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley in September 2008. What
I remember most clearly from the event was an impromptu speech given by
Google co-founder Larry Page near the end of the first day. Standing before
about one hundred attendees, Page made an impassioned speech calling for
this new university to focus on addressing the world’s biggest problems: “I
now have a very simple metric I use: Are you working on something that
can change the world? Yes or no? The answer for 99.99999 percent of
people is ‘no.’ I think we need to be training people on how to change the
world. Obviously, technologies are the way to do that. That’s what we’ve
seen in the past; that’s what’s driven all the change.”
One of the individuals in the audience listening to Page was Salim, who
had headed up Brickhouse, Yahoo’s intrapreneurial incubator. He, too, was
taken by that message, and within weeks, he joined Singularity as the
university’s founding Executive Director. Salim, having run several startups
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