What is an Exponential Organisation?

Today we often witness how organisations and companies such as Google, Facebook or Airbnb, are capable of increasing their staff from only a handful of employees to hundreds of thousands all over the world and, from not producing any revenue (or only a very limited one) to earning millions, or even billions, of dollars with profit margins never heard before. And all this in just a few years (or even months). What’s more, these organizations are able to transform whole industries and to completely change the market game rules.

In 2015 the book “Exponential Organizations” (Salim Ismail, Michael Malone & Yuri Van Geest) was published. This book attempts to explain why this type of organizations are emerging at this current time of History (and not before), and how current corporations and organizations must act, or even how to create one of them or become one of them. 

The research conducted by the author and his colleagues (Michael S. Malone and Yuri van Geest) identified the major characteristics of Exponential Organizations (somewhat similar to what I have been calling Digital DNA). Based on their research (which included the top one hundred fastest growing startups worldwide over the last six years) they identified common traits across all exponential organizations.


Common across these companies is a Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP). The MTP is the higher, aspirational purpose of the organisation that aims to transform the planet. Exponential organizations (ExOs) intend to accomplish near-miracles – not the things found in most traditional mission statements.

Beyond the MTP, the author describes ten attributes that reflect the mechanisms that ExOs leverage to achieve exponential growth. They capture these using two acronyms: SCALE to reflect five external attributes, and IDEAS for five internal attributes. They use the two hemispheres of the brain as a metaphor to frame ExO attributes.

Let us take you through this model and assist you in identifying how you can use this in your organisation and so become an Exponential Organisation.

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