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The Exponential Era is a business strategy book published by the IEEE Press as part of its series on technology, innovation and leadership. David Espindola and Michael Wright work at Intercepting Horizons and advise at the University of Minnesota.
The book is a concise 182 pages including its index. It has a satisfying hard cover about the height and width of a paperback book. The book proportions reminded of many of the books that we used to have my secondary school’s library. It felt right in my hand. Its a small thing, but it matters.
The secondary school analogy goes further; the book summarises knowledge and makes it relatively easily digestible.
The Exponential Era includes:
- The threat of platforms and their ability to disrupt market sectors
- Why people find it hard to grasp the change brought about by the future
- Megatrends with the kind of utopian tone that reminded me of Alvin Toffler, George Gilder and John Naisbitt
- Horizon monitoring
- Agile approach to development
- Test and learn
- Feedback based strategic decisions which relies extensively on the technology sector’s fetishisation of John Boyd’s OODA model
- The Innovator’s Dilemma
- Future business ethics
The book consolidates the kind of reading that people in technology and marketing would likely have read anyway. Chances are if you’ve already read books like Saving Big Blue, Measure What Matters, The Lean Startup and Zero to One, then The Exponential Era isn’t written for you.
Who should read this book?
Instead this book seems to be an increasingly diminished audience. A company too small for it’s management to have been lectured on disruption by McKinsey, Bain, BCG or Accenture. But still large enough to be concerned. Like McKinsey et al Espindola and Wright are looking to create disruption fear and sell their SPX methodology to re-engineer their business. I would have thought the c suite in most businesses would have at least done enough reading to have a high level understanding of the content in the book.
The book’s relentless utopian optimism reminded me a lot of business works from the 1970s to the dot com era. I think that The Exponential Era will be of most use to junior people at the start of their career looking for a primer rather than its intended audience.