The exponential edge

Innovation CSC Blogs

What’s in an edge? What’s in a cutting edge? What’s in a bleeding edge?

When I look at those phrases, I envision scary, almost violent images.

Why do we use such words to indicate innovation and the positive act of leading through creativity?

I think we use them to intimidate, to scare, especially those of us who are afraid of what might come, those who are not strong enough to walk on the edge due to fears of the unknown or failure. Those terms, I think, are used to put the fear of god into the angels and financiers, the would-be innovators and game-changers, to encourage them to stick to safe decisions and look for innovation through optimisation and rationalisation.

But true innovators are not easily deterred. True innovation should ignite the sparks in an organisation and then fuel the fire of imagination.

I fundamentally disagree with those terms and see them as challenge.

Those who have the power to walk on the edge are not bleeding. They are igniting. They are sparking. They are sharing. They are learning. They and their ideas are growing. They are changing. They are in the flow. They are challenging thoughts and the way things have been done before. They are learning to listen to those few who are willing to change and walk the edge with them. They are choosing to see clearly a path for a better future, a different future where progress is made, not bled.

A bleeding edge implies that the idea will eventually run out of life. Alas this is not the case for some ideas. In fact it’s just the opposite. Some ideas, said by many to be “on the bleeding edge,” do not bleed out; they become immortal. They change the world so much that they become part of the fabric we live in and go down in history books. In technology, those ideas include things like Blockchain, Google, mobile phones, the Internet, artificial intelligence or augmented reality. They are exponential.

To be an innovator, you need to be “before the time,” “at the frontier.” You need to indeed be at the edge, where it can be lonely and sometimes intimidating. But silence always comes before a storm. And when the brightest minds are silent, there is always something coming.

You do not need to be afraid of this place, scared “to go where no one has gone before,” to do things differently and be the first. In fact, once you’re through to the other side, you may find that others have been by your side the whole way — the ones who inspire and ground those of us with our head in the stars.

The smallest of sparks is all that is needed to ignite the passion that leads to this journey.

And in the meanwhile, it’s time to get rid of those dated phrases meant to scare us away from the edge.

In this new digital world, an “Exponential Edge” (EE) is required, one that balances imagination and creativity. It’s an edge��the next generation of millennials and those of us who love to tinker, love to play, love to invent and love to do things differently and digitally will learn to walk.

And some of us will learn to fly.

Sarah James was ANZ lead for Authentic Leadership in DXC and an advocate for DXC’s Women in Leadership and STEM. Prior to leaving DXC in September 2017, Sarah founded the Empowering Future Leaders blog and was its primary author. With over 15 years of experience in the world of IT, Sarah’s specialty is spatial information and includes integration on projects as diverse as mapping volcanoes in Hawaii to delivering high-tech police vehicles.


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  1. The inovator can be at the cutting edge and slip onto a bleeding edge, suffering little or no damage, perhaps just a damaged ego
    However for a business large or small depending on the current financial ( within the company amd or its environment) approaching a running at the cutting/bleeding edge could have a catastrofic impact on that business which it may never recover from
    Therefore the common approch becomes leading edge not bleeding.

    • geosupergirl says:

      Hi Glyn thank you for your comments and thoughts. Careful and planned approach to the edge is indeed needed. Although with the Exponential Edge these technologies happen quickly and grow suddenly so calculated risk is requires.

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