Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World
Peter H Diamandis & Steven Kotler
Simon & Schuster
IF WE create a triple sundae with the layers being exponential technologies, some unique and innovative thinking and crowd-powered tools, we can convert the world’s biggest problems into impactful opportunities. This is what the book Bold is all about. Authors Peter H Diamandis and Steven Kotler take us through these three components for creating wealth and impacting the world.
Bold is a guidebook telling entrepreneurs how to harness technology to start their enterprise. In the good olden days, it was widely believed that only large, well-known companies could make a difference in the business space, as they had the size and financial strength to do so. But this is passé now. With the use of technology, one can cross this perceived barrier faster than ever before. This is so because technology, as per the authors, is exponential in impact.
Hence, if one has a new idea and wants to pursue it, technology can be used meaningfully to make the super leap and create a successful enterprise.
But for this to happen, we need to also have the right kind of mindset. We need to have, what the authors call, a ‘mental toolkit’ to be innovators and chase our dream to make it big. Here, the stories of successful entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Larry Page, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are provided as examples of people who thought differently and created not just flourishing enterprises, but also wealth in terms of knowledge and money for the world.
The third component is the widespread use of crowdsourcing for creating these enterprises. Today, in the age of the Internet, the entire world is inter-connected. So crowdsourcing can be used for pooling ideas and funds to make any venture happen. This also hastens the speed of creating an enterprise. Raising capital, in particular, has always been a challenge for anyone contemplating starting an enterprise and crowdfunding fills this lacunae well enough.
The entire discourse in the book is about combining these three facets—which have to work in cohesion to make an enterprise succeed—of building wealth. The favourite story of all such strategy writers is of Kodak’s. The company dominated the world of photography, but failed, as technology changed exponentially and it was not willing to recognise that and adapt. The power of technology is explained by the authors through the concept of ‘exponential’, which involves 6Ds. The first is digitisation, where everything can be digitised and, more importantly, spread at the speed of light. The second is deception, where we do not really realise this exponential speed, and by the time we do, it could be very late. The third is disruption, where a new technology replaces an existing one—the film roll, for example, is no longer required today in a digitised world. The fourth is demonetisation, where creative business models have to be undertaken to make money. A common example here is that of Google, which everyone can use without paying. The fifth is dematerialisation, where a product disappears—much like the camera today, as all smartphones today come equipped with one. The last is democratisation, where universal access to a product is provided, as costs are lowered to the minimum.
Given these kind of changes taking place in the technology space, we now need a different mental framework and approach. Here, the authors base their hypothesis on several examples of companies and people who have excelled by being bold in venturing into new areas. Some takeaways that are provided by the authors are in the form of some basic principles: if anything can go wrong, fix it. When given a choice, take both. If you cannot win, change the rules.
When in doubt, think. The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself. These can be the source of inspiration for anyone who is entering such a field.
Some of the tenets followed by Amazon, for instance, are quite interesting. The authors pull out a communication sent by the company to its shareholders that encapsulates what the authors refer to as a ‘broad mindset’. It goes like this: “We will continue to make investment in light of long term market leadership consideration rather than short term profitability. Second, we will make bold rather than timid investments when we see sufficient probability of gaining market leadership. Third, we will share our strategic thoughts with shareholders when we make bold decisions so that you can evaluate whether or not you are making the right strategic decisions. Last, we will balance our focus on growth, with emphasis on long-term profitability and capital management.”
Finally, the authors elucidate the approach to crowdsourcing. This is more of a manual on steps to be undertaken so that the entire strategic plan is well-knit.
The concept of being ‘bold’ hence is achieving a combination of physical tools (the technology aspect), the mental framework (summarised by the psychological strategies pursued) and exponential crowd tools (which provide additional resources such as talent, money, etc, which help cross the final frontier).
On the whole, Bold is an interesting book on innovation and strategy. It focuses on the mindset of a company and underlines the advantages of technology and crowdsourcing to build enterprises. It will be inspirational for new entrepreneurs in particular who are looking to do something different.
This is also a warning for companies—they need to be watchful of the changes taking place and not assume that status quo will prevail. And this holds for not just the manufacturing sector, but services as well—in fact, in India, the inroads made by e-commerce serve as a glaring example. By simplifying and reducing the philosophy to three principles, this book is refreshingly different from several other treatises on creating and running successful businesses.
Madan Sabnavis is chief economist, CARE Ratings