In his book Exponential Organizations, Salim Ismail has addressed the current business model of most organizations which is based upon incremental and linear growth. His thesis is that the alternative of exponential growth, as espoused by Singularity University, can be gained by organizations that use new techniques that can vastly accelerate the growth and scalability of the organization and their competitive position. Many examples of companies that have used these new techniques are used such as Netfix, Apple and Craigslist. Another example that is addressed in detail is Airbnb which does not own its assets in the room rental space, and has now realized a market capitalization of almost $14 billion – unprecedented in corporate history in the traditional hotel sector. This is more than a reflection of the past and what can be done in the future to accelerate the growth of companies – it’s a how-to guide that provides direction based upon the experience of these successful exponential companies.
In the past five years, the business world has seen the birth of a new breed of company—the Exponential Organization—that has revolutionized how a company can accelerate its growth by using technology. An ExO can eliminate the incremental, linear way traditional companies get bigger, leveraging assets like community, big data, algorithms, and new technology into achieving performance benchmarks ten times better than its peers.
Three luminaries of the business world—Salim Ismail, Yuri van Geest, and Mike Malone—have researched this phenomenon and documented ten characteristics of Exponential Organizations. Here, in EXPONENTIAL ORGANIZATIONS, they walk the reader through how any company, from a startup to a multi-national, can become an ExO, streamline its performance, and grow to the next level.
The key premise is that companies that leverage exponential technologies and processes are capable of far exceeding their peers performance in the same or similar industry segments in a dramatically shorter time than ever possible historically. This is due to the change in availability and understanding that technology application brings to the table.
The first step on the way to evaluating your own company is to evaluate its position on several key factors. There are two acronyms for these factors called S.C.A.L.E. and I.D.E.A.S that relate to external and internal traits that indicate exponential company behaviors and potential.
ExOs leverage five key “External Mechanisms.” These are represented by the acronym S.C.A.L.E.:
Staff on Demand – Making sure your organization actively leverages resources
Community & Crowd – The power of crowd and community for leverage
Algorithms – Applying machine learning, NLP, and algorthims to analyze and predict
Leased Assets – The use of fixed assets the company does not own
Engagement – Tools like incentive prizes and gamification for driving community and crowd engagement
ExOs also leverage five key “Internal Mechanisms.” These are represented by the acronym I.D.E.A.S.:
Interfaces – Useful and often beautiful ways to display information so that actual humans can build wisdom from the data.
Dashboards – Key metrics, tending toward OKR’s for measuring success of effort over time at every level.
Experimentation – A near-scientific curiosity to finding the best solutions to problems and problems to solve.
Autonomy – Distributed Authority and Responsibility are commonplace
Social – Use and leverage of social structures and networks to grow.
Generally, the first half of the book is the information you need and the second half is a high-level how to guide helping you get started.
“EXPONENTIAL ORGANIZATIONS is the most pivotal book in its class. Salim examines the future of organizations and offers readers his insights on the concept of Exponential Organizations, because he himself embodies the strategy, structure, culture, processes, and systems of this new breed of company.”—John Hagel, The Center for the Edge
John Hagel says the key to transformation is to pick only one edge. In terms of scaling an edge initiative
John Hagel III has nearly 35 years’ experience as a management consultant, author, speaker and entrepreneur. He has helped companies around the world to improve their performance by crafting creative business strategies that more effectively harness new generations of information technology and shape broader markets and industries. He also designs and implements change management strategies to help companies develop capabilities to drive more rapid performance improvement.
John is the co-chairman of the Silicon Valley-based Deloitte LLP Center for the Edge, which conducts original research on emerging business opportunities that are not yet on the CEO’s management agenda but should be.
John is also a faculty member at Singularity University where he gives frequent talks on the mounting performance pressure created by digital technology and promising approaches to help traditional companies make the transition from a linear to an exponential world. John is also on the Board of Trustees at the Santa Fe Institute, an organization that conducts leading edge research on complex adaptive systems.
Before joining Deloitte, John was an independent consultant and writer. Prior to that, he held significant positions at leading consulting firms and companies. From 1984 to 2000, he was a principal at McKinsey and Co., where he was a leader of the Strategy Practice. In addition, he founded and led McKinsey’s Electronic Commerce Practice from 1993 to 2000. John has also served as senior vice president of strategy at Atari, Inc., and earlier in his career, worked at Boston Consulting Group. He is the founder of two Silicon Valley startups.
John is the author of The Power of Pull, published by Basic Books and summarizing recent research pursued at the Center for the Edge, making the case that we are struggling as individuals and institutions to adapt to a long-term shift in our business environment that changes the nature of competition,. He is also the author of a series of earlier best-selling business books, Net Gain, published in 1997, Net Worth, Out of the Box and The Only Sustainable Edge. He is widely published and quoted in major business publications like The Economist, Fortune, Forbes, Business Week, Financial Times and Wall Street Journal as well as general media like the New York Times, NBC and BBC. He has won two awards from Harvard Business Review for best articles in that publication and has been recognized as an industry thought leader by a variety of publications and institutions, including the World Economic Forum and Business Week.
John has his own website at www.johnhagel.com,, a joint website with John Seely Brown at www.edgeperspectives.com,, a personal blog at www.edgeperspectives.typepad.com as well as joint blogs with John Seely Brown at Harvard Business Review, Fortune and Techonomy. He is active in social media and can be followed on Twitter at @jhagel
John holds a BA from Wesleyan University, a B.Phil. from Oxford University, and a JD and MBA from Harvard University.
Kalyan Kumar (KK) Leads the Global Product and Technology Organization and also the CTO for IT&O & Digital for HCL. KK also is the global leader of HCL DryICE Business Unit (unified autonomics/AI & orchestration platform business, the core foundation of HCL 21st Century Enterprise).