Is an idea meritocracy the way to encourage experimentation in your organisation?

Firstly you may be asking yourself what is an idea meritocracy? This is an ideology and way of working that let’s the best idea win regardless of who the idea comes from. Successful companies such as Bridgewater associates and Pixar animation studios use such techniques to build a culture of radical transparency and this ensures that innovation continues to prosper.

A quick aside, I wrote this blog a few weeks ago sitting at the Amazing V&A Waterfront in Cape Town and then forgot to publish it. The picture below was taken on the day. ADVERT: Cape Town is an amazing place to start a business!

I first came across this idea from Ray Dalio’s book Principles and would highly recommend that you read this book. Bridgewater Associates which Dalio founded over 40 years ago runs on a radically transparent culture and is the number one hedge fund in the world. The stories in the book are amazing such as junior employees having the openness to tell Ray Dalio that his performance in a meeting was D- and that he was obviously unprepared. There are many organisations where this would be seen as insubordination but not at Bridgewater where honest feedback is valued and required.

This type of culture is not an easy one to follow as it is very different to what many of us know but I believe that it is a very good model to use to promote experimentation. Experimentation requires failure and honest feedback to improve. Where people are punished for failure experimentation is unlikely.

So what steps can you take to move to an idea meritocracy and a radically transparent company culture?

  1. Have an open mind
  2. Learn more about it by reading and studying other companies following this ideology
  3. Discuss this with your team
  4. Implement and know that you will make mistakes and have failures along the way. The important thing to remember is that as long as you are learning from these then you are moving forward

For more information check out this great article by Edward D. Hess that I used when writing this blog.

 

Building an Exponential Organisation (ExO)

ExO Attributes

In order to build and run an exponential organisation, Salim Ismail, author of Exponential Organisations,  suggests that a company must have an MTP and at least 4 of the 11 attributes depicted in the diagram above. In order to determine whether you can consider yourself exponential they developed an exponential quotient and a test to determine your exponential quotient. You can take the test here. Once you have completed the test share your results so that we can improve the score and celebrate the road to exponential.

The one non negotiable of an Exponential Organisation is an MTP. This is a Massive Transformative Purpose. People have called this a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) or a company Vision and Mission. It is vital to understand that what ever you call it the Purpose of the organisation must be something that is massive and transformative and all the values of the organisation and the goals must work towards achieving it. This is not a nice to have slogan on the wall. This is what the organisation must live by. Some Examples of MTP’s are:

  1. SpaceX: “Humans must become a multi-planetary species”
  2. TED: “Ideas worth spreading.”
  3. X Prize Foundation: “Bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity.”
  4. Google: “Organize the world’s information.”

Once you have developed your MTP the next step in being exponential is to understand the internal and external Characteristics that make an organisation exponential. The internal characteristics are Interfaces, Dashboards, Experimentation, Autonomy and Social. The acronym used is IDEAS. The external attributes are Staff on demand, Community and crowd, Algorithms, Leveraged assets and Engagement. The acronym used is SCALE.  The tables below summarise these attributes.

IDEAS – The Internal Characteristics of ExO’s
Characteristic What is it? Advantages Requirements
Interfaces Provide the bridge between external activities and internal control frameworks, e.g. platforms, user interfaces, API’s •Filter external abundance into internal value

•Link external growth drivers to internal stabilizing factors

•Automation allows scalability

•Standardised processes

•Scalable externalities

•Alogorithms

Dashboards Metrics to measure, real time and meaningful •Track critical growth drivers in real time

•Objective-Key Results (OKR) as management framework

•Minimise errors by short feedback loops

•Real time metrics

•Analytical capability

•OKR’s

•Cultural acceptance by employees

Experimentation Lean startup methods of testing assumptions and consistently experimenting with controlled risks •Keeps processes aligned with rapidly changing externalities

•Maximised value capture

•Faster time to market (Minimal Viable Product)

•Risk taking provides an edge and faster learning

•Measurement and tracking of experiments

•Cultural acceptance

Autonomy New “empowered” or team based organisational forms •Increased agility

•More accountability at customer face

•Faster reactions and learning times

•Better morale

•MTP

•Self starting employees

•Dashboards

Social Technology Create horizontal interactions in vertical organised businesses •Faster Conversations

•Faster decision cycles

•Faster learning

•Stabilizes team

•MTP

•Cloud social tools

•Co-operative culture

SCALE – The External Characteristics of ExO’s
Characteristic What is it? Advantages Requirements
Staff on Demand More part time, specialised,

mission based staff

•Best skills for the job

•Agility

•Learning of core team

•Stronger bonds in core team

•Capability to hire services on demand

•Clear task specifications

Community & Crowd Harness the power of the community and crowd by engaging with them through whatever means •Increase loyalty

•Enable exponential growth

•Validate new ideas and learn

•Agility & rapid implementation

•Create new ideas

•MTP

•Engagement

•Authentic leadership

•Easy to participate for outsiders

•Peer to peer capabilities

Algorithms Use data and automate decisions or reduce human biases while making decisions •Scalability of products and services

•Leverage connected devices/ sensors

•Lower error rate & stabilize

•Easy to update

•Machine or deep learning

•Cultural acceptance

Leveraged Assets Use assets, do not own them unless they are scarce •Scalability of products and services

•Lower marginal costs of supply

•Removes having to manage assets

•Agility

•Easy available assets

•Interfaces

Engagement Engage community and crowd •Increase loyalty

•Gain ideas

•Converts crowd to community

•Leverage Marketing

•Play & Learn

•Digital feedback loop to customers

•MTP

•Clearness & fairness

How Exponential is your company and what is your MTP?

 

The 6 D’s along the Exponential Curve

Technology is advancing but it has to start at zero and move from there. The Exponential technologies that are in the mainstream right now are all many years into their development and we are only seeing them in the mainstream now because they have moved out of the deceptive phase.  The graph below depicts the 6 D’s that you find along the exponential curve. Peter Diamandis from Singularity University put together the 6 D’s as a way of showing people what to expect when it comes to Exponential technology.

exo-6-ds1.png

The six D’s are unpacked further below:

Digitized | Initial stage where digitalization of physical processes takes place. Many services have already been digitised and at the moment thanks to Blockchain technology even more is being digitized.

Deception | It takes a while to get up to speed. People often loose hope at this stage as it seems that the technology is not taking off. Virtual Reality was in this deceptive phase during the 2000’s, as was 3D printing a technology that is over 30 years old. Use of blockchain and smart contracts is in this stage right now.

Disruptive | This is when the technology starts make a real difference as the exponential doublings are significant. For the digital camera when the quality was 0.1, 0.2, 0.4, 0.8, 1.6 this was not disruptive but when it reached 3.2 megapixels this essentially killed film.

Demonetization | This occurs when money is taken out of the equation. The reduction of fees due to technology use is partial demonetization although the complete elimination of cost that digital photography brought about is a good example. With film camera’s there was a cost before photographs could be viewed.

Dematerialization | This occurs when physical assets disappear. The mobile phone is a perfect example of how many products have dematerialised. A mobile phone contains $1000’s of dollars of equipment from a GPS to a video camera, books and maps etc.

Democratization | This occurs when the technology becomes ubiquitous generally because the costs are reduced significantly and this gives many more people access. The mobile phone is an example of this with smart phones following suit and almost every person on the planet owning a mobile phone. Think about the planet when technologies such as the Internet, Renewable Energy, AI, etc reach democratization.

Here is a video of Peter Diamandis explaining this further.

 

So what are Exponential Technologies anyway?

In 1965 Gordon Moore wrote a paper in which he described the phenomenon that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years. This is what has become known as Moore’s Law. We have all seen the picture of the IBM 5MB Hard drive in in 1956 vs an SD card. This doubling has resulted in exponential growth.

 

data stprage evolutionThis exponential growth is now happening in a number of technologies, and these are exponential technologies that we are talking about. Singularity University describe these as below:

Exponential technologies are those which are rapidly accelerating and shaping major industries and all aspects of our lives.  For a technology to be “exponential,” the power and/or speed doubles each year, and/or the cost drops by half.

Exponential technologies include artificial intelligence (AI), augmented and virtual reality (AR, VR), data science, digital biology and biotech, medicine, nanotech and digital fabrication (3D printing), networks and computing systems (incl. IoT, cloud), sensors (incl. wearables and insidables), robotics (incl. drones), blockchain, energy,  and autonomous vehicles.

As described above there are a number of technologies that are on exponential growth curves and when these are combined it is providing extremely disruptive products and services which are changing the way that we live.  For examples the winners of the Tricorder X Prize have leveraged the exponential growth in sensor technology, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, networks, etc. to develop handheld devices that can diagnose multiple diseased better than a doctor.

Having an understanding of these exponential technologies and how they are affecting the world that we live in is vital to be relevant in the 21st century. If you are running a business now or are looking to start something new it is more important than ever to understand what exponential technologies you can leverage.

David Rose quote

I look forward to sharing more on this topic and many others.

The road is changing

Changing road

Shit is about to get real. I have made a decision that I am going to become more active in sharing online through this blog as well as through other mediums. The reason for this decision is that I have decided to move away from the certainty of a solid stable income (Working primarily with Wealth Migrate) to a life of more freedom to work longer hours… consulting in the Exponential and crowdfunding space and building a brand called PIONEERtribe. In the 21st Century business looks different from what many of us know and I know that I will remain within the ecosystem of sharing and abundance in which Wealth Migrate finds itself.

So you can expect to have regular sharing of exponential technologies, business strategies, travel, motivation, my life, my opinion, fun, etc. I am looking to grow a community of people that have the same values as myself and a vision of the 21st century that is good and focuses on benefiting the planet  with ABUNDANCE.

PIONEERtribe blue with black

PIONEERtribe is a community of 21st Century Entrepreneurs changing the way society functions:

  • We are people who love technology and what it is doing to make the world a better place
  • We are people who believe in abundance and look for the best in all situations
  • We are problem solvers
  • We are constantly learning
  • We are global
  • We are authentic
  • We love to travel
  • We are exponential thinkers
  • We live with purpose

If this is something that excites you then let me know and I will see you on the journey. PIONEERtribe will be launched later this year with a bunch of content and sharing. For now I am building that up.

Here is to an amazing future that is full of opportunity for everyone. A future in which African economies are robust and technology is ubiquitous. A future that is community driven and full of excitement and fun!