Are you interested in building a global scalable business?

Are you interested in building a global scalable business?

Are you interested in building a global scalable business with an important purpose?!!


Why is a model like Exponential Organisations valuable for planning and developing a global scalable business?

The recent work and accomplishments of the Exponential Organisation  is impressive in its ambition and accomplishments to date. states that it is "transforming the workd for a better future", and "OpenExo is the global transformation ecosystem with more than 5,000 coaches, investors, consultants and innovation specialists helping organisations, institutions and people unlock abundance to change the world".   No small task!

Typically there is a model that underpins the Exponential Organisations, and they have in common a "Massive Transformative Purpose" which is its mission statement.

The importance of the Exponential Organisation model is that it addresses the dynamic and changing business market -- including the move away from owning fixed assets and having permanent employees but instead leveraging things like social media technologies, using data for decision making, outsourcing processes, engaging with massively-large communities, providing autonomy and fast organisational decision-making, using dashboards to monitor and manage the progress and using interfaces to effectively connect with large numbers of other networks and organisations.

Without such a model, organisations and new businesses unfortunately become rapidly outdated and not able to keep up with changing customer and market requirements.  Organisations that can scale and grow quickly and in sustainable ways are those that will survive and thrive -- especially during challenging times like COVID. 

Millennials and other employees are increasingly requesting (and demanding!) that organisations see above the profit line and align with important causes and purposes.  Exponential Organisations refer to that as "Massive Transformative Purposes (MTPs)".  Organisations that pay attention to the MTPs are again those that attract talent -- and are better positioned to survive and thrive.

The following table shows some examples of "Massive Transformative Purposes" for major well-known organisations: 

Check out more fascinating examples of successful Exponential Organisations such as:

  • Local Motors -- "A traditional car company spends about $3 billion to bring a new car model to market. Local Motors, an ExO, accomplishes the same thing for just $3 million—a 1,000x improvement, albeit not to the same production scale."
  • TED -- "From the beginning, as first elucidated by the founder, Richard Saul Wurman, TED had both an appealing and scalable "Massive Transformative Purpose": “Ideas Worth Spreading.” When Anderson turned the TED talks into free online content, he created [the Exo principle of] Engagement and quickly built the critical mass needed to turn Crowd into [the Exo principle of] Community. The TED talks also leveraged the exponential nature of cloud services ([the Exo principle of] Leveraged Assets). At the same time, the franchise format of TEDx, supported by the toolkit, created a scalable set of optimized processes that allowed this newly created Community to build the organization outside the traditional, formal boundaries of its reporting lines. At the same time, TED was now free to grow much faster than Anderson and his team could have ever have accomplished than if its growth depended solely on their management. The lesson here is that it is possible to take an established, medium-sized organization and transform it into an ExO by thoughtfully applying ExO attributes."

  • GitHub has successfully transformed the open source community by implementing virtually all of the ExO principles. The table below shows how the company has implemented [the Exponential Organization principles of] an Massive Transformation Purpose, as well as SCALE and IDEAS [see my blog for more info]:
    • Massive Ttransformation Purpose: “Social Coding”
    • Staff on Demand: GitHub can (and does) leverage the entire open source community for internal work.
    • Community & Crowd: Thanks to coding lessons and a collaborative environment, new developers (Crowd) are quickly turned into users (Community). In addition, GitHub has created a new office for any and all stakeholders to drop by and contribute or learn. There is open event space available for offline communities to gather and organize programs. GitHub explicitly doesn’t use “lock-in” as a tactic, but rather focuses on respecting its users and being the best platform in the market space.
    • Algorithms: In GitHub’s system, feedback is codified into algorithms and used for improved version control and workflow.
    • Leveraged Assets: GitHub doesn’t own any of the projects hosted on its platform, which itself runs on the cloud. The company does use some of the software from various projects to enhance the platform itself—thus enlisting users into improving their own work environment.
    • Engagement: Game dynamics are extensively used, with leaderboards and a reputation system. This keeps users engaged without forcing their participation. Feedback on new code is accomplished in almost real time.
    • Interfaces: The company has customized a number of functions to support its developers, including instant messaging, rating and reputation systems, and software coding lessons. All are embedded within the platform. The core strength of the product is its highly automated control mechanism and workflow management, which integrates outputs of different external organizational attributes (such as software incentive competitions and gamification programs), as well as crowd and community deliverables.
    • Dashboards: GitHub monitors value metrics about the platform. This information is available internally via a sophisticated and intuitive control panel.
    • Experimentation: Due to its decentralized, responsive, transparent and self-organizing company culture, there is continuous and open iteration of new ideas in every department across the organization. To avoid chaos, GitHub has developed open, easy-to-use internal platforms and effective communication. Given the freedom employees have to join any project, they need ready access to training materials and documentation from across the organization; without them, switching projects creates too much friction as newcomers struggle to get oriented. In this way, new team members are able to be productive from the first day they join a project.
    • Autonomy: Authority and decision-making are completely decentralized. Teams self-organize, and the staff for any given project make the key decisions on that team’s initiatives. That said, everyone in the company is encouraged to contribute to and act as advisor on decisions that are being made elsewhere in the organization. As a result, the recruiting process is primarily focused on self-starters who have passion, purpose, and potential. Within the company, this is called “open allocation,” which essentially translates to: always work on stuff you are personally excited about or that you find fulfilling.
    • Social Technologies: With all employees across all departments using GitHub internally, social constructs and technologies are deeply embedded into GitHub’s platform and culture. Indeed, it can be said that every aspect of the product has a social feature. Thus, the de facto office of the company is the chat room; email is used only for sending platform reminders and alerts about changes to the platform. This “conversational culture” boosts team morale and productivity. Senior management also has a motive for enforcing this culture: clear communication is a top priority in such an experimental, networked organizational model. Team members rely on face-to-face conversations, calls or Hangouts for strategic discussions, while using GitHub, chat or email for more operational work.

If you are interested in finding out more about Exponential Organisations and the relevance to your efforts, feel free to schedule a free, one-hour appointment with Ken at   


What is an Exponential Organisation and Major Transformative Purpose?

The following diagram shows the major components of the Exponential Organisation.    This framework is rich -- so I caution and encourage the reader to review it and come back to it to continue to refine your knowledge of it.

Whereas some of the terminology may not be immediately understandable, once one dives in and sees examples it makes sense -- especially within the context of building agile organisations that can scale quickly. 

Some of the definitions of the components of the Exponential Organisation include:

  • Information
    • What data do we have?
    • What data do we need?
    • How will we collect data for the algorithms?
    • Is the data we need available?
    • Can we buy it? Rent it? Make it?
  • Interfaces:
    • Can we build an API that connect our systems with the community?
    • Can we create a marketplace to drive growth?
    • What can we do to provide my product/service in a self-service mode?
  • Dashboards:
    • Why do you need to have real-time data?
    • What real-time data do you need to track/measure?
    • What systems will you use in order to measure that data?
    • What will you do with the data?
  • Experimentation:
    • What do you want to learn and what experiments will you run to do it?
    • How will you measure the success of the experiments?
    • How can we encourage experimentation within the organisation?
  • Autonomy:
    • How can we reduce decision-delay or approval-chains?
    • How can we avoid too much management and sallow the staff to grow?
    • Is there a framework/tools we could use? (OKR, Holacracy, etc)
  • Social Technologies:
    • How will we leverage social technologies to improve communication (within our team/community/clients)?
    • What social network/tools can we use?
    • Can we use social tools to do some of the work for us?
  • Staff on Demand:
    • Can we build a cloud of external "employees"?
    • How could we have the best employees for each activitiy?
    • How shuold we find and Hire? By using an agency? Direct? Local? Remote? Platform?
  • Community & Crowd:
    • Is there an existing community we can leverage?
    • How will we turn external community into advocates?
    • How will we create value for my community?
    • How can the community create value for my product?
  • Algorithms:
    • Why are we developing algorithms?
    • Which labor/activity/task can we automate?
    • Which algorithm/systems/platforms are you going to use to process/leverage the information you have?
  • Leveraged Assets:
    • What type of fixed costs can we move off the balance sheet by renting them?
    • What processes can we outsource?
    • Is ther spare capacity lying around which we could re-purpose?
  • Implementation
    • How will we implement the right culture along the whole organisation? How will we measure it?
    • How will we drive the organisation toward the MTP? How will we measure it?
    • What collection of projects should we run to implement the above attrigutes?
    • What are the key elements everyone on the team has to agree on?
  • Engagement: 
    • What contest/promotions can be created to increase customer acquisition?
    • How can we leverage gamification to improve our products and services?
    • Ho w can you make people use your product every day?

Notice too that there is an interesting portrayal of "left brain" vs "right brain" -- to meet the  whole individual/organisation!

These concepts are laid out in an ExO Canvas as shown below.

The value is to put all of these ideas into one place, and allow brainstorming across multiple canvases -- for variations or for other "big ideas". 

There are also multiple conferences, books, certification courses, and other practitioners to tap into as interested or required.  Some relevant links include:


How does one plan and implement an Exponential Organisation?

Often an Exponential Organisation is represented in a one-page Canvas (similar to other Lean Canvases or Business Model Canvas). This canvas focuses the thinking and planning onto one sheet.  Many of my clients and Mentees actually initially use multiple canvases to represent various alternative organisations and variations.  This open brainstorming prevents "going down just one path" that could be a "dead end"; instead it "opens up the juices" to consider many alternatives.

A particularly helpful subsequent step is to prepare a more traditional Business Model Canvas (or Lean Canvas) to elaborate the thinking and planning.  (Please feel free to see my other blogs for more examples and details of these).

The Business Canvas basically takes the concepts of the Exponential Organisation and then lays it into a more traditional business -- which can help in communication of the plans while again helping to think through the details and logistics of the business.  Often the Business Model Canvas is used for existing businesses -- including those that are interested in pivoting into new Customer Segments or with revised channels.

Note that in the following "Lean canvas" it goes back to basics in talking about the "Problem", "Solution", "Unique Value Proposition", "Unfair Advantage" and "Key Metrics" -- things that are typically addressed in start-ups where typically there are not  "Key Partners" and "Key Resources" early on (as portrayed in the Business Model Canvas for existing businesses). 

In any case, these various canvases have been found to be helpful tools that clarify intents and issues that help ensure that the organisation being developed is truly scalable with minimal overheads and that deliver on the Massive Transformative Purpose!  Companies have found that by adressing these issues early, they can "leapfrog" over more traditional competitors. One can use this information to inform and drive policies and plans.  Often there are dependencies and preferred sequencing of core activities that need to be understood -- that again can help to shorten the implementation time.

Clients/Mentees have also validated the use of Agile/Scrum practices to validate these fundamental principles, to identify resulting requirements and actions and to prioritise the backlog to put in the highest value items early.

If you are interested in finding out more about Exponential Organisations and how to apply these tools and approraches to your efforts, feel free to schedule a free, one-hour appointment to explore next steps with Ken at   

Also, please see other blogs such as:

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