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Big Think+

Your brain is wired for linear thinking. Learn exponential thinking instead.

Way back in 1965, the soon-to-be founder of Intel, Gordon Moore, published a paper predicting that the number of transistors that could fit on a computer chip would double every 18 months. This prediction proved to be remarkably accurate, so much so that it was given the name Moore’s law.
This exponential increase in transistors per chip led to a commensurately exponential increase in computing power and in our overall technological capacity. Nowadays, Moore’s law is beginning to fail since transistors can only get so small, but the larger principle behind Moore’s law still holds true. Technology will continue to advance exponentially; not linearly.
Back when the very first computers were developed, staying up to date with the latest trends in business and tech was straightforward. Maybe not easy, per se, but certainly within the realm of possibility. But as time has gone on, the rate at which technology is improving has become dizzying. How can anybody keep up with the ever-shifting landscape of the 21st century?
This sense of technological vertigo is the result of a linear mindset. Unfortunately, human beings are naturally inclined to think from a linear perspective: Incremental change, little-by-little will get you to your destination. One of the biggest challenges to recognizing an exponential trend when you see one is that they always seem to be underperforming compared to the more incremental, linear trends that more traditional businesses rely on. Digital streaming’s poor initial performance is an example, as is—perhaps—today’s artificial intelligence and self-driving car technologies.

Why is learning how to think exponentially so important? It could make or break your business.

Learning to shift from this linear style will help you make better predictions about the future and, consequently, help you stay relevant as a professional and stay afloat as a business. For leaders hoping to take charge in the rapidly evolving digital age, it’s important to abandon linear ways of thinking and instead learn how to think exponentially.
Peter Diamandis, entrepreneur, futurist, and co-founder of the Singularity University, understands that the future is best characterized by rapid change, and staying on top will be no easy feat. Through Singularity University, Diamandis and co-founder Ray Kurzweil focus on educating executives, offering consultancy services, and incubating businesses with an eye towards preparing for the future and inculcating business professionals with an exponential mindset. In his Big Think+ lesson, Diamandis describes four ways to embrace an exponential mindset.

  1. Always seek to take advantage of disruptive technology, or otherwise risk becoming disrupted by it.
  2. Be bold in your thinking—don’t let past constraints dictate your future plans.
  3. Use exponential tools, like crowdsourcing.
  4. Incentivize idea generation—even if there’s an obvious solution right in front of you, it might not be the best solution. Ostensibly crazy ideas can be the best way to harness exponential growth.
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