Sunday, July 16, 2017

Book Review: 'BOLD: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World' by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler

Here are exponential tools and techniques as well as key modes of thinking to solve large-scale (insoluble?) global problems

There is no doubt that Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler see the so-called “Big Picture” and recognize the problems that pose the greatest challenges. They are obviously convinced that it is possible to “go big, create wealth, and impact the world” and explain how to do that in this remarkably entertaining as well as informative book. Some of the most valuable material is provided during the interviews they conducted of “four who changed the world”: Larry Page (Google, where there is “a healthy distrust of the impossible”), Elon Musk (Tesla and Space X), Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Group), and Jeff Bezos (Amazon). Why these four?

“We define an exponential entrepreneur as someone who is using exponential tools and technologies to reach large populations of people and take on billion-person challenges that were previously only addressable by governments. We studied the work of Page, Musk, Bezos, and Branson because of the incredible reach and impact they have had. Each of these men started with no inheritance and built companies that have spanned the globe. If you want to take on grand global challenges, you need to be able to think at scale. These four individuals have clearly demonstrated that they have the wisdom and skills needed to think on a global level.”

It is important to keep in mind that the exponential entrepreneur’s mindset they share is one that business leaders in any organization can develop, whatever its size and nature may be, and that includes owner/CEOs of small to midsize companies ass well as those who head business units or divisions within Fortune 100 companies. This is what Diamandis and Kotler have in mind when observing, “In today’s digitally enabled exponential world, many of our products and services have become digitized — things like biology, manufacturing, and finance. Since you can basically replicate digital data for free, a billion times over, and then distribute it globally, again, virtually for free, this allows businesses to scale up quickly and globally, often, at a very low marginal expense. Ultimately this is causing many products and services to become demonetized, dematerialized, and democratized. This is what we mean by the differences between linear [traditional] and exponential businesses.”

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Diamandis and Kotler’s coverage:

o The Six Ds, and, The Last Three Ds (Pages 7-15)
o A Question of Scale (17-22)
o The Impact of Disruption (33-35)
o Networks and Sensors (41-48)
o Artificia; Intelligence (AI): Expertise on Demand (52-59)
o Robotics: Our New Workforce (59-62)
o Genomics and Synthetic Biology (63-65)
o The Secret of “Skonk”: Parts One and Two (71-77)
o Google’s Eight Innovation Principles (84-85)
o Flow: Its Environmental, Psychological, Social, and Creative Triggers (85-94)
o Peter’s Laws™: The Creed of the Persistent and Passionate Mind (113-114)
o Musk, Branson, Bezos, and Page: Four Who Changed the World (115-116)
o How to Crowdsource (156-167)
o The Types of Crowdfunding (172-175)
o The Money Solution: A How-To Guide to Crowdfunding (181-210)
o Stages of Community Building (230-242)
o The Power of Incentive Competitions (245-247)
o Then Benefits of Using an Incentive Competition (258-261)
o Key Parameters for Designing Your Incentive Challenge (263-269)
o The Step-by-Step How-To of Your Incentive Competition (269-273)

Diamandis and Kotler suggest that the information, insights, and counsel they provide are best viewed as a “playbook” that can guide and inform bold visions and aggressive initiatives. I agree. However, keep in mind that one of the greatest benefits of the exponential mindset, in my mind its most unique benefit, is that it enables those who master it to “fail fast” or to learn what must next be done to succeed. Hence the importance of the mini-case studies provided (Pages 175-180, 219-228, and 250-258). The most innovative organizations conduct constant experimentation, rigorous evaluation, prototyping, and then even more rigorous evaluation. Here’s an example of linear thinking: 1-2-3-4-5. Now here’s an example of exponential thinking: 1-2-4-8-16. With all due respect to bold visions and grand plans, the fact remains that unless a promising idea can become not only a reality but scale profits exponentially, resources should be allocated elsewhere.

Editor's note: This review was written by Robert Morris and has been published with his permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right. 

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