The core notion is simple: as an Exponential Organisation (ExO’s); rather than increasing human capital or physical assets, the most successful 21st-century companies leverage information and technology to achieve rapid expansion in pursuit of a “Massive Transformational Purpose” (MTP). In doing so, they’re able to scale their business strategies, culture, organizational frameworks and purpose at the same rate as the technology, i.e. one that follows an exponential curve.

A Massive Transformative Purpose is bigger than a mission statement; it’s why you do what you do, why you get up in the morning and why your organization exists. It’s a higher, aspirational purpose, and it’s about thinking big. Radical transformation is its goal. Disruption with a Purpose – one that individuals totally buy into!

In my last Blog ‘Unravelling the 4IR Skills Of The Future And How You Can Best Prepare For This Now’,  We looked at the WEF’s top 10 interpersonal skills required for the 4th IR, where EQ skills came out as of prime importance and on this point I wrote:-

“While experts have warned that there will be an increase in job automation and artificial intelligence (AI), specialists agree that human beings will never be made completely obsolete. There are certain skills (read EQ) that will grow in importance as technology becomes more entrenched in our everyday lives.

With this dramatic change all around us happening at exponential speed, we need to move from being lifelong learners to becoming exponential learners, because if we don’t learn to learn faster, we will quickly become side-lined. I will cover more on this next month as we take a look at exponential organisations.”

So here is the follow up promised from an organisational perspective which is a fascinating understanding of what corporates need to change to become future fit and support your exponential growth.

While the shelf-life of information is plummeting, the time required to develop skills keeps increasing. The Result is our future economy becomes more democratised and lets everyone tap into the abundance of data and knowledge.

Emerging from this is the Gig economy with companies shifting from employers to creators and co-ordinators of projects for which they engage external talent (freelancers/teams).

This will impact on the future of work with:-

  • Augmented workforce (Human + Machine)
  • Augmented workplace (smart, virtual)
  • No longer linear career paths

The emerging trends indicate the skills which will decrease in value are likely to be:-

  • Physical and manual labour, memorisation, programming skills
  • Tasks (and jobs) requiring high-routine and low-soft skills

Skills that will increase in value:

  • Problem-solving skills (which includes creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, …)
  • Leadership skills (which includes vision, empathy, people management, growth mindset, adaptability, self regulation)

i.e. uniquely human skills or “core skills” (interpersonal soft skills)

Learning in the flow of life

Another noticeable trend is the need for organisations to change the way people learn. Leading organisations are empowering individuals’ need to continuously develop skills by investing in new tools to embed learning not only into the flow of work but the flow of life.

In the SA context, evolving work demands and skills requirements are creating an enormous demand for new skills and capabilities, while a tight labour market is making it challenging for organisations to hire people from outside.

Steps organisations can take to prepare:

  • Create a skills inventory to map existing skills, identify gaps and find overlaps with other roles and tasks
  • Build a roadmap to link your current staff and jobs to those needed in the future
  • Develop training and decide on best delivery methods (online, blended learning, etc.)
  • General: leadership to build/promote a culture of learning and formalise talent development (e.g. new role)

Large organizations will likely build such capability in-house, while smaller firms might outsource to partners.

Some questions to think about:-

  • Who are the future of work / future skills experts in your community?
  • What do you consider the best classification/categorisation?
  • Which of the prioritised skills do you consider most important?
  • How do you become an “exponential learner”?
  • Do you know of good frameworks/models, or simple practical steps organisations could take to prepare their workforce for the future?
  • What practical steps can individuals take to prepare for jobs that will rapidly change or don’t even exist yet?

Government bodies and educational institutions, of course also have a major role to play, but the above is a starting point in this bigger beast called the future of work.

As always it starts with You!


Warm regards



Recommended Reading:

Exponential Organizations was written as a guide to navigating the shifting business environment due to the introduction and proliferation of exponential technologies

What Is An Exponential Organization? Silicon Valley heavyweight Salim Ismail explains how some companies achieve exponential growth