Defining Exponential Organizations: Is it the Future of Your Company?

By Shantanu Mohan

December 6, 2017

Trying to keep up with the digital revolution is often an arduous process when you’re overly busy thinking keeping up with ordinary business tasks. No doubt you try to prepare for paradigm shifts and technological change but perpetually find yourself falling behind.

An interesting book written in 2014 by Salim Ismail helps put this in better context so you can understand what the future holds. Titled “Exponential Organizations“, the book became a major hit in the business community and brought forth an abbreviated use of the term: ExO.

You frequently see exponential organizations simply described as companies revolutionizing themselves through the use of technology.

Take a look at what this means and how you’ll know if your company can become an ExO.

What Distinguishes an ExO From a Typical Organization?

We highly recommend reading Salim’s book cover to cover, but completely understanding an exponential organization requires a comparison to what’s occurring today. A typical organization of the last 100 years is one that’s built with hierarchies and focused mostly on ownership. It’s also designed to operate on stability and predictability.

Living in the world today collides with the above organizational structure. Salim notes that today’s business world is full of abundance and exponential technologies.

It’s going to require more adapting and bravely diving into a new organizational structure to keep up with technologies on the horizon.

So how do you go about this using a slightly psychological process? In Salim’s book, he uses a left and right brain analogy to help you get there.

Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP)

No doubt you’ve heard about Massive Transformative Purpose before from associates and competitors. Often abbreviated MTP, it’s the foundation behind exponential organizations.

In the above book, you’ll see MTP reinvented through the prism of a left and right brain construct. The left brain side has the acronym “IDEAS”, and the right brain has the acronym “SCALE.”:

  • IDEAS stands for “Interfaces, Dashboards, Experimentation, Autonomy, and Social.”
  • SCALE stands for “Staff On Demand, Community & Crowd, Algorithms, Leveraged Assets, and Engagements.”

To simplify this further, the left brain deals with order, control, and stability. The right brain deals with creativity, growth, and uncertainty.

Both of these work in concert to create your MTP, or your higher aspirational purpose. What kind of technologies should you start focusing on, though, to make your higher purpose easier to reach?

Technologies and Methodologies Leading Companies Use

Take it from Salim Ismail himself with a quote from his book:

“Exponential organizations are the future of commerce, non-profits, and even government. It is the only model that can keep up — and take advantage of — the ever-accelerating pace of technology-driven change that defines our time.”

With this truly definitive way to describe an ExO, the type of technologies you use determines how you prepare for the future.

You’ll find many industry experts mentioning big data as a big part of exponential organizations. No doubt you already know this based on how big data brings more efficient business responses.

The same goes with technologies and methodologies that help eliminate bureaucratic roadblocks. This means using lean approaches where you rid yourself of all wasteful resources to bring more innovation.

It pays to read up on the lean method and why it’s become a big component to making exponential organizations move forward.

Giving Autonomy to Employees

You can also look at exponential organizations as allowing employees to work on their own time. The way to accomplish this is to provide virtual offices, including co-working opportunities. Adding conference rooms and training venues also adds more to improving employee performance and making them feel valued.


Using these tools puts you on the path toward the future, even if you need to find reliable technology providers to make it work. Those of you wanting to become an ExO with these tools can do so by contacting us here at WorkSocial.

We work closely with Salim Ismail’s teams, and we’ll help you to finally achieve your massive transformative purpose. Our own MTP is to always bring happiness and wellness into work spaces like yours!

Tim Ferriss on Turning Knowledge Into Action

 

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