Every day, legacy business models and traditional best practices are transforming around us, driven by technologies like AI, blockchain, 5G, and quantum computing that are radically altering our future vision. Leaders and innovators are facing an accelerating pace of change that makes it more difficult than ever to navigate the murky future ahead. They need to cut through the noise and hype, but without a playbook to guide them, it’s difficult to know where to start.
Nick Davis wrote Future Ready: A Changemaker’s Guide to the Exponential Revolution to be that playbook. He shares the actual frameworks Singularity University uses with clients, along with case-studies detailing how those enterprises have applied these strategies to leap ahead and stay there. With this book, leaders will learn how to create their organization’s future exponential vision and strategy, develop the leaders of tomorrow, and build future customer value using cutting-edge technologies. I recently caught up with Nick to learn what moment inspired him to write the book, his favorite idea he shares with readers, and how that idea has impacted his own life and work.
What happened that made you decide to write the book? What was the exact moment when you realized these ideas needed to get out there?
Two years ago I was sitting in a conference room discussing the future of a major client, that in the past was one of the biggest retailers in the world. At the time this client was experiencing significant market losses from the technological disruption going on around them.
The company’s innovation leader was venting about the difficult time they were having rallying support from their board and other executive team members to take the appropriate action to address this downward trend. Many of their legacy stakeholders still believed that these trends were just another phase, rather than a new business paradigm.
The company’s leadership needed a way to explain the situation in a succinct way, but also needed a framework they could use to help make the shift and get them back ahead. They asked me to speak with their other execs, but one-on-one talks are rarely enough to drive systemic change.
These leaders needed a guidebook to support change—for enterprise organizations especially. So, I decided to write the book to be that guidebook, and to share the stories and examples from our years of client work to help address this trend. Since that meeting, these trends have only accelerated, which I believe makes Future Ready very timely.
What’s your favorite specific, actionable idea in the book?
The book’s main framework is the best advice I would give a company or executive team at this point. The importance is that you must focus on all four aspects of the framework—Leadership, Strategy, Innovation, and Culture—in a thoughtful manner to successfully navigate the exponential future ahead.
There are lots of articles and books on each independent component and the importance of them, and they are all right. But, the reason this is all so hard is you cannot just do one or two aspects and expect to be able to compete in the new economy.
Imagine a company that has a strong future vision of where it wants to go, but that has not built the new product innovation capability they need to get there. The result is a company with great vision that would never get enough steam to get ahead and stay ahead.
Or, imagine you have a huge focus on innovation tools and methodologies, but without a culture of innovation and people who are empowered and incentivized to actually unlearn the old ways and build entirely new ways to create value. That type of company would also fail.
- Create a clear vision of the future they are trying to achieve and have the ability to communicate it in a compelling way. Think Elon Musk.
- Build innovation capabilities that enable you to understand future customer needs, and leverage exponential technologies to meet those needs. And this needs to be done quickly—speed is the new measure of success.
- Nurture and support a culture that challenges the old way of doing things, encourages diverse thinking and encourages an exploration mindset.
- Develop future leaders who are prepared to step into the complex challenges this new economy presents. These leaders must be willing to unlearn old ways, continually develop new skills as things evolve, and constantly think about moving beyond incremental changes to greater impact.
What’s a story of how you’ve applied that idea in your own life? What has this lesson done for you?
I am working on a new startup called ReadySkill. This will be my fourth startup, and definitely the most future-focused one in terms of leveraging the frameworks from Future Ready.
We are working to address the future of work job disruptions in a novel way, leveraging the latest in exponential technologies. The company works to match people who are currently underemployed with a better-paying job before they start their upskilling sprint, and we support them with community services during their journey.
ReadySkill is a combination of platform business models, exponential tech, and impact work. We are focused on creating a world where anyone can stay ahead of job disruption and move themselves out of poverty. We are future-focused on getting our existing workforce future ready.
To learn more about becoming a future ready organization, you can find Future Ready: A Changemaker’s Guide to the Exponential Revolution on Amazon