In a previous article about the Exponential Organization, you found out about its internal and external attributes (IDEAS and SCALE) and the importance of having a strong mission statement or an MTP (Massive Transformative Purpose).

A good MTP is aspirational, constantly looking outward, is what drives the organization to pursue massive opportunities. The ExO is about setting what at first may seem to be unrealistic plans of radical transformation. Research shows that even though MTP is just a projection, companies internalize their purpose and become shaped by it.

In this article, we’ll analyze the characteristics of the ExO ecosystem. We identified nine key features:

1. Information accelerates everything

Digitalization and global connectivity are two of the primary sources of disruption. To illustrate the rapid pace of digital change, Salim Ismail uses the example of the digital camera. In 1995, 710 million rolls of film were developed at thousands of processing centers. By 2005, nearly 200 billion digital photographs, equalling about eight billion rolls, had been taken and edited, stored and displayed in ways that were unimaginable just a few years before. Today, web users upload almost one billion photographs per day to sites like Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram. As we add trillions of sensors on every device, process, and person, the process will accelerate even faster to an almost unimaginable pace. (Nesdale, 2005)

2. Drive to demonetization

One of the significant advantages of the Internet is the possibility to promote a business and to sell an online product at zero cost. Some of the industries affected by this disruption are publishing, transportation, music, travel, and real estate. In this world of possibilities, we’ll choose access over ownership.

3. Disruption is the new norm

Salim Ismail cites Clayton M. Christensen, who writes in “The innovator’s dilemma” that innovation rarely comes from predictable sources. Given the democratic access to information and technology, outsiders have now the chance to bring massive disruption.

4. Beware “the expert”

As mentioned previously, innovation can come from outsiders that bring a fresh perspective on a project. The two main categories of employees (the geeks that base their decisions on data) and the hippos (that base their decisions on past experience or feelings/opinions) will often conflict. In the ExO, this relationship will evolve.

5. Death of the five-year plan

The five-year plan has become obsolete. In the ExO, it is not possible to make strategic decisions based on five-year plans. One reason for this is the rapid pace of change. In the book “Moments of Impact: How to design strategic conversations that accelerate change,” Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon state that most strategic planning meetings are a waste of time. According to the authors, these are a couple of steps you should take to make your planning more effective:

  • Define the phases for strategic planning;
  • Define your purpose;
  • Engage multiple perspectives;
  • Frame the issues;
  • Set the scene;
  • Make it an experience.

The solution to effective strategic planning includes choosing a strong MTP, using dashboards to track real-time progress of the business, leveraging moments of impact and use a one-year plan. In the ExO world, execution overrides planning. Replacing the five-year plan can be scary, but it is highly rewarding for those who want to do things differently.

Implications of the Exponential Organization

6. Small beats bigger

Traditionally, businesses focused on scaling, expanding their footprint. Using the advances in technology, companies of any size can channel innovation. Adaptability and agility are the desired characteristics for the company of the future. Small companies deal better with risk, test easier and leverage already existing resources.

7. Rent don’t own

There is less need to own the physical assets used in running a business. Get staff on demand, rent your office, research labs. In the ExO, accessing is better than owning. Your focus should be on growing the business and creating values in your area of expertise, not on dealing with administrative tasks. This trend will generate a surge in popularity for the pay-as-you-go solutions.

8. Trust beats control

Digitally native generations value transparency and trust. Zappos is a good example of a company built on excellence in customer services, collaboration, and openness. This positive outcome was generated by the rise of online feedback platforms that make it a lot easier to track employee performance and feedback. Aspirational companies that want to exceed expectations incorporate feedback into their work and make the necessary adjustments.

9. Everything is measurable and knowable

Anything and everything can be recorded in real time. We are heading towards the Age of Transparency. Sensors, drones, and satellites are part of the technology that makes this possible.

Information makes everything possible. The organizations that will stand a chance in the future are the ones that will, in some form or another, create the future rather than preparing to be disrupted.