The 2015 Exponential Leaders List

Disruptive innovation can be a polarizing force. Few companies can create it, but all companies feel its effect, some in ways that damage their business irreparably. Company leaders must understand how they can benefit from such change and need to see models of who has implemented it well.

In late January, Big Think and Singularity University, in partnership with Reticle Research,  surveyed program participants about practices related to disruptive innovation.

Disruptive innovation can be a polarizing force. Few companies can create it, but all companies feel its effect, some in ways that damage their business irreparably. Company leaders must understand how they can benefit from such change and need to see models of who has implemented it well.


In late January 2015, Big Think, where the world’s leading thinkers examine the most essential ideas of our age, and Singularity University, a teaching organization and accelerator, came together to find definitive answers to what constitutes exponential leadership––true leadership for the age of exponential disruption. We surveyed program participants about practices related to disruptive innovation, and we filmed a series of interviews with influential exponential leaders including Peter Diamandis, Salman Khan, Sue Desmond-Hellmann, Chance Barnett, and Chris Anderson, which we'll release in the coming days.

The survey results are in, and they paint a clear picture of what it takes to change the world for the better, on an unprecedented scale.

Using questions based on recent research in the field, survey respondents were asked to:

  • Identify best practices for disruptive innovation.

  • Identify a range of companies and nonprofit organizations, and their leaders excelling in disruptive innovation practices.

  • Identify effective leadership traits as well as which technologies have the most potential to disrupt businesses in the next five years.

    Experimentation, feedback, and autonomy are especially important to foster disruptive innovation.

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