How to believe in exponential change

Fully Charged Live : Exponential Transformation : Learning by doing

It’s been quite a week. First three days at the intersection of electric mobility, renewable energy and ever better batteries at the Fully Charged Live conference in Silversone, UK.

Then two days of CogX at King’s Cross in London, where 17,500 people gathered (in the rain, we might add) to poke at all things related to Artificial Intelligence. We will tackle that in another newsletter.

Last but certainly not least we attended the book launch of ‘Exponential Transformation’ together with OpenExO and the London chapter of Singularity University. Then we went back to the lab.

Fully Charged Live

Robert Llewellyn, founder and host of Fully Charged, is trying to remember what to say.

We recommend that you subscribe to Fully Charged both on Youtube and to their podcast. All the 30+ panel discussions from last weekend’s conference can soon be found there. Below are our three primary observations:

1. Renewables are the cheapest sources of energy

Do you remember hearing that solar and/or wind power were expensive, and dependent on obscene government incentives for their existence? Not anymore. At all. Emma Pinchbeck of Renewable UK declared with unequivocal certainty that the economic argument for renewables has been won. What remains are practical questions, and ideological arguments. Two weeks ago we delved into how to counter that.

Emma Pinchbeck, worth your follow.

Renewable UK - non-profit trade organisation for renewables.

2. Batteries are becoming cheap, recyclable and sustainable

Batteries, yay!

Similarly, you may have heard that batteries are forbiddingly expensive, impossible to recycle and are basically worse for the environment than diesel. If this was ever true, that’s no longer the case.

We’ve talked about the increasing price efficacy of batteries before. Simon Moores from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence made it plain: we are in the midst of a global battery arms race, in which China is winning. 18 months ago there were 17 battery mega factories being built around the world. As of right now, that number has grown to over 70.

17 mega factories would have equalled 289 gigawatts of capacity, whereas 70+ factories mean that the annual global production soon will be close to 1600 gigawatts. That’s enough batteries for roughly 22 million electric cars, made far more affordable through highly increased mass production.

This, we argue, are great news for kicking our global fossil fuel habit. It also has far-reaching economical and political consequences.

Simon Morres telling it like it is - 4 minute Youtube video

Benchmark Mineral Intelligence blog post - worth digging into

3. 10 000 people = not niche anymore

The Fully Charged community has been around for nine years, and is almost half a million people strong in terms of Youtube subscribers. Last year, at the first live show, about 5000 people showed up. This year, that amount had doubled and several of the big car brands were now present.

Apart from the temptation of stating that ‘we were here before it was cool’, it’s worth noting the moment when something goes from being niche to becoming mainstream. Sure, there were still dreadlocked eco warriors present who built their own electric car out of scrap a decade ago. But they are now the minority. Instead, the bulk of the Fully Charged audience are now eco worriers as well as generally EV-curious people who are not in it for the sustainability. Have you noticed a similar shift, in your circles? Are we close the ‘iPhone moment’ for electric vehicles, hmm?

The ‘Exponential Transformation’ book launch

The founding thesis behind 10X Labs is that the rate of change in the world is increasing exponentially, mainly due to digitisation. We did not formulate this hypothesis, we’ve merely tried to applied it. Last Tuesday we got the opportunity to meet Salim Ismael, author of Exponential Organizations (2014) and one of the foremost thought leaders in this space. The occasion was the launch of a new book, Exponential Transformation, which is really a practical guide for how to apply the theory laid out in the original text.

Your humble correspondents and the author himself, City of London.

We strongly urge you to watch the video below where Salim Ismael in less than an hour reveals the evidence for the fact that exponential change is the new norm. He also explains why this is so hard to grasp, and why so few companies/governments/people are acting on it.

Salim Ismael lets it rip at a conference hosted by Gartner - 54 minutes.

Basically, you and I are both biologically programmed to survive in a world that no longer exists. A society where humans were nomadic hunters and gatherers, with an average life span of 23 years during which our society did not change suffer sudden and massive technological change.

Lethal danger was pervasive, and it really was an evolutionary advantage to be afraid of new and unknown things. As a species we survived that phase in our history, and built a new world instead. One that is unrecognisable from the setting where our ‘biological operating system’ was last updated. However, we are running on the same settings as when we ran from hungry lions on the savannah.

This is what makes it counter-intuitive at best and upsettingly provocative at worst to contemplate that the rate of change is increasing at an exponential rate. And it does. Salim Ismael showed the growth curve of solar energy over the past few decades, and it is the quintessential hockey stick.

The implication of this is that in merely 12 years time there will be enough solar panels installed to cover the entire global energy demand. Furthermore, it also means that in 14 years time we will have double the energy than what the world consumes. Because that is how exponential growth works, once it gets up to speed.

You may say that you’ll believe in the above once pigs fly, and that is the point. If you read up on the data and plot the curves, the evidence clearly confirm that we’re living in exponential times. If you choose to look, it’s even possible to observe in the world around you.

The black arrow is the actual growth of solar energy. The coloured horisontal lines are the yearly predictions for the continued growth of the industry, made by the International Energy Agency, that refuse to recognise the exponential nature of the technology.

And yet, people and their organisations tend to dismiss these notions and instead insist that the technological development is linear and predictable like it used to be. Unhindered exponential growth is unnatural to us, and it challenges the basic principle of every organisation that was founded in the last century or before. It creates a blind spot, and an opportunity.

Can you ride on a flying pig? Only one way to find out

The only way to truly absorb a counter-intuitive truth is to experience it first hand. To learn by doing. That is what the new Exponential Transformation handbook is all about, free for anyone to use and deploy. It is the process that has been developed by Salim Ismael and his larger team at ExO Works and OpenExO, and it enables a team to change their organisational mindset through concrete action in merely 10 weeks. We shall put it to the test this very autumn.

Exponential Transformation, the book.

ExO Works - enterprise-grade exponential coaching.

OpenExO - the global transformation ecosystem.

Do you believe that the technological development is advancing at an exponential rate, and forces society to do the same? If not, what do you believe instead? How do you manage change, professionally and/or personally?