How to Prepare Yourself for Exponential Growth

In 1998 Google burst onto the Internet scene and went from $0 market cap to $1 billion in 8 years. This was unheard of growth! A typical Fortune 500 company takes 20 years to achieve that same $1 billion mark.

However, since 1998, the time to grow from $0 to $1 billion market cap has steadily decreased. Facebook did it in five years, Tesla in four years, Uber in two years and Snapchat and Oculus Rift did it in just under two years!

Exponential Growth

According to the book Exponential Organization (by Salim Ismail, Michael Malone and Yuri van Geest) an “ExO” or Exponential Organization is an organization that display an exponential level of growth.

As you can imagine, any organization that undergoes exponential growth also undergoes exponential change. This change can easily destroy the organization completely or severely impact its growth unless it is handled correctly.

Regardless of the aspirations for your business growth, to be successful in today’s marketplace, a business leader has to understand what will drive business growth in the future and how to handle the change associated with that growth.

So, how do the authors of ExO recommend that you deal with this exponential growth and associated rate of change to position your company for success?

MTP – Massive Transformational Purpose

Step 1 is to establish an MTP for your business. This is essentially a powerful vision statement that you build your business around. It is not just a statement or a platitude but it is the guiding light for everything your business does. Long term and short term decision making for the organization are laser focused on contributing to and achieving the MTP!

Here are some great examples where organizations have successfully rallied around their MTP to see extraordinary growth and success:

  • Google – Organize the world’s information
  • TED – Ideas worth spreading
  • X Price Foundation – Bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity

For more information on MTPs, take a look at:

External Business Attributes – SCALE

Step 2 is to implement the external business attributes identified by the authors with the acronym SCALE:

  • Staff on Demand – Don’t let your staff become obsolete before your eyes. Encourage continuous learning and actively leverage a global workforce to get:
    • Diversity
    • The best of the best
    • Creativity
    • Most up to date skills
    • Confluence of culture, training, experience and skills
  • Community and Crowd – Leverage the creativity and power of the global community. Create a platform to automate peer-to-peer engagement for your business.
  • Algorithms – Leverage algorithms wherever possible to take full advantage of big data and accelerate your business (think Amazon, Google, Uber, Airbnb, etc.).
  • Leveraged Assets – Wherever possible leverage assets without purchasing them. When the asset is information based or commoditized, accessing is better than possessing. Only own an asset if it is rare or hard to access (Airbnb does not own any properties and Uber doesn’t won the cars).
  • Engagement – Enable collaborative behavior with your online community to enhance or accelerate your business. For example, Uber allows the users to rate the drivers and the drivers to rate the users. Airbnb does the same thing with properties and renters. This engages the community, builds brand power and loyalty and accelerates the business.

Internal Business Attributes – IDEAS

Step 3 is to implement the internal business attributes identified by the authors with the acronym IDEAS

  • Interfaces – Automate the interfaces from the external business attributes to the users. For example, Google does not manually give its users data for Adwords. This is all automated. Similarly, Uber does not manually manage its drivers. This is done using automated interfaces.
  • Dashboards – All businesses need a way to measure and manage the organization. Furthermore, this must be a real time, adaptable dashboard with all the relevant company metrics required to effectively run the business. Then these metrics must be available to everyone so all staff know exactly where the business is at any time.
  • Experimentation – Businesses must experiment in a controlled fashion to create new ideas, products and services. This is all about taking controlled risks to leapfrog the organization forward.
  • Autonomy – Give your employees autonomy to do their work and operate the business. This autonomy is within the framework of the MTP and other guiding principles. See Dan Pink post
  • Social Technologies – Use technology to create a virtual “watercooler” environment where staff can exchange ideas, concerns, challenges, etc. This creates a culture of openness, honesty and extreme candor. This significantly speeds up the time between an idea, acceptance and implementation.

Take Action and Prepare for Healthy Growth

If you want to position your business for success, you must first create a powerful MTP that you use to guide every aspect of your business. Then build at least 4 of the 10 SCALE and IDEA attributes into the fabric of your business. According to the authors of ExO, 4 of the 10 attributes is the minimum requirement to be prepared for exponential growth!

Finally, take a look at the brief Exponential Organization book summary I prepared and go one step further by reading the complete book.

One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” Abraham Maslow

How have you handled exponential growth in your organization? Leave your comments below!

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