So what is leap frogging anyway?
Leapfrogging epitomises exponential thinking. It defines accelerated progress. Leapfrogging is about embracing disruption. I love the energetic imagery that the word conjures in your mind – of literally overtaking and overcoming, in leaps and bounds, to move into pole position.
As an entrepreneur it’s in my nature to always be on the look out for new strategies to streamline processes to be better, faster and more productive. That’s also the very essence of running a successful business – outpacing your competition by offering innovative products and services they haven’t even thought of.
In 2010 I happened on Ray Kurzweil’s book The Singularity is Near. It was also my introduction to Singularity University (SU), which he co-founded alongside Peter Diamandis. Little did I know that it would completely revolutionise my way of thinking and my approach to both my personal life and how I ran my businesses – Mann Made. It lead me down the rabbit hole to a new reality driven by innovation, disruption, the tech and mobile revolutions and exponential growth. It also introduced me to the concept of leapfrogging, which is now my specialisation, and the driving force behind this website.
In May 2015, Mann Made Media was the eventing agency for two custom SU programmes in South Africa. We were so intrigued that by December of that year, we completed the senior executive programme at SU’s headquarters at the NASA Ames Research Centre.
By 2016 we were helping to run the South African chapters of Singularity University in South Africa – Johannesburg and Cape Town. Mann Made Media also organised two Global Impact Challenge events that saw the winning South African entrepreneurs fly to the United States to be part of the 10-week Singularity University Global Solutions Programme.
By now my next greatest mission was to bring SU to South Africa because I knew that its forward-thinking approach to technology and exponential thinking would help to solve the country’s and continent’s greatest challenges. By August 2017, I had attended seven SU summits, was an SU alumnus, and Mann Made Media organised the inaugural SingularityU South Africa Summit.
SU has taught me the difference between exponential and linear thinking. It lead me to understand that the next step is leapfrogging with the help of exponential technology.
What is leapfrogging?
If you ever have a conversation with me, you’ll probably hear the word ‘leapfrogging’ come up quite often. That’s not just because it’s become a buzz word in recent years, but because I try to implement it, in both my life and work, on a daily basis. It’s no surprise then, that people often ask me, “Mic, so what’s leapfrogging, anyway?”
Leapfrogging epitomises exponential thinking. It defines accelerated progress. Leapfrogging is about embracing disruption. I love the energetic imagery that the word conjures in your mind – of literally overtaking and overcoming, in leaps and bounds, to move into pole position. Disruption allows new technologies, mindsets and ways of doing business to displace old approaches. It’s by embracing disruption that we can truly leapfrog.
As a concept, leapfrogging means jumping over the intermediary steps along the way to reach the ultimate end goal. And that end goal is, more often than not, way ahead of its closest competitors. Leapfrogging is sort of an evolutionary concept to get to the top and to get ahead. By implementing new technologies, more efficient processes and mindsets in your business and daily life, you can start well ahead of your competitors.
Africa is a ripe environment for leap frogging. Mostly because many of the intermediary steps along the way are missing in the first place. Take, for example, Africa’s mobile revolution – adoption was so high from the outset because we didn’t have widespread landline infrastructure to begin with. And we saved ourselves lots of money, in the process, by not having to install all that expensive infrastructure in the first place.
“At the end of 2015, 46% of the population in Africa subscribed to mobile services, equivalent to more than half a billion people. Over the next five years, an additional 168 million people will be connected by mobile services across Africa, reaching 725 million unique subscribers by 2020,” according to The Mobile Economy Africa 2016 report by GSMA.
It’s important to understand leapfrogging, beyond the hype and learn how to effectively implement it as part of your business strategy. But not only. We can also apply this way of thinking to any aspect of our own personal lives – the way we workout, our nutrition, our relationships, friendships and work dynamics, as well as our education and how we learn.
Why leapfrogging is important for your business
The idea of leapfrogging was first defined in relation to economic growth theories that were popularised by economist Joseph Schumpeter’s idea of creative destruction, based on thinking by Karl Marx. He suggested that large, established companies have less incentive to innovate than their rivals, who are trying to knock them off the top position. And so through their complacency, they often lose their competitive advantage to new companies that risk embracing new technological innovations and implementing radical business strategies.
This kind of exponential thinking is the dream of every entrepreneur and innovator. There’s nothing gradual about leapfrogging though. There’s no time to slow down. It’s about outrunning the pace set by your competitors, embracing change, and trying something new.
Businesses need to learn how to take calculated risks. This kind of innovative thinking and approach to business needs to become an inherent part of their company culture. Speak to your clients, identify the problem and work backwards to figure out not just how to solve it, and also how to avoid similar such problems. Disrupt and innovate into the future.
An abundant approach
Peter Diamandis writes about exponential technologies, exponential growth and Moore’s Law, among other innovative concepts in his book Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think. The book is an antidote to today’s dark pessimism. In its own words it documents “how progress in artificial intelligence, robotics, infinite computing, ubiquitous broadband networks, digital manufacturing, nanomaterials, synthetic biology, and many other exponentially growing technologies will enable us to make greater gains in the next two decades than we have in the previous two hundred years”.
In 1965, Gordon Moore, Intel co-founder realised that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated computer circuits was doubling every year. His observation later came to be called Moore’s Law. And though this rate of progress has slightly slowed to every 18 months, rather than 12 months, experts in the field predict that it may only reach its limits sometime in the 2020s. By which time we may even have new technologies. This exponential rate of innovation also results in cost cutting by about a third each year. So not only are computers’ technologies becoming smaller and faster, but cheaper too. And the same is true for most technologies.
Now we just have to implement that mindset within our businesses. These technologies can help us work smarter and live life with fewer obstacles. This website will explore various ways to leapfrog forward, whether it’s in your work or personal life. Stay tuned!