Exponential Attributes: Autonomy

Autonomy is the forth Internal Attribute in the IDEAS acronym. In Chapter 4 of Exponential Organizations you can read more about this and I suggest taking a look at the open source tool developed by the ExO Ecosystem. Also take a look at Exponential Transformation where you can learn about implementing Exponential Attributes in your current organisation.

The definition of autonomy is the right or condition of self-government. An organisation that practices autonomy is one that is self-organised with teams operating with a decentralized authority. In order to run an organisation with autonomy at the centre required a great deal of trust in the team and a very clear purpose. If you want to to have rapid innovation then autonomy is important in giving teams the authority to work and make decisions in the best interests of the organisation. In order to implement successfully you need to ensure that the organisation:

  1. has an MTP that is compelling and inspirational
  2. choses team members that are self starters who are passionate about the MTP
  3. has frameworks and tools in place that gives teams a clear understanding of the level of autonomy and how to operate and exercise accountability
  4. communicates effectively in a lateral and honest way.
  5. has transparent and data driven dashboards to insure everyone understands what is happening and how to improve.

Organisations can take on a number of different styles of “management” that work with autonomy and each of these topics can constitute separate blog entries: Agile, OKRs, Meritocracy, Holacracy, Black Ops/Edge Teams. For examples of organisations with a high level of autonomy check out Valve, MIT Media Lab, Pixar, Medium, Zappos, Morning Star Company, FAVI, share more in the comments.

In the rapidly changing environments that we find ourselves in, it is more important than ever to have autonomous teams of multidisciplinary people who are passionate about what they are doing and perform well with minimal supervision. It is a very different mode to what many large organisations are used but making the change is more important than ever. It needs to be performed with care to get it right but is vital… are you ready?

Exponential Attributes: Experimentation

Experimentation is the third Internal Attribute in the IDEAS acronym. In Chapter 4 of Exponential Organizations you can read more about this and I suggest taking a look at the open source tool developed by the ExO Ecosystem. Also take a look at Exponential Transformation where you can learn about implementing Exponential Attributes in your current organisation.

Building a culture of experimentation is something that all companies should be striving towards. We have all heard the credo fail fast, fail forward. Silicon Valley was built on good failure and many business leaders have indicated that the ability to experiment and learn from failure is vital to their success. As John Seely Brown indicated in a commencement speech given at Singapore Management University, corporate architecture is setup to withstand risk and change and to scale efficiently and predictably, meaning that they create rather static environments. This is a very dangerous environment as it is prone to disruption from smaller more agile organisations that are using experimentation through the Lean approach together with Design Thinking.

I have taken the Lean Startup and Design Thinking approaches and combined them to create a model for experimentation to be built into an organisation culture. The Lean Startup Principles are:

  1. Entrepreneurs are Everywhere
  2. Entrepreneurship is Management
  3. Validated Learning
  4. Innovation Accounting
  5. Build-measure-learn Process

The Design Thinking Principles are:

  1. Human Centered
  2. Mindful of Process
  3. Culture of Prototyping
  4. Bias Toward Action
  5. Show Don’t Tell
  6. Radical Collaboration

So if you want to build a culture of experimentation in your organisation you need to understand these principles and implement them, the diagram below has taken the two frameworks and combined them into one. (The Lean Framework is here and the Design Thinking framework here)


Exponential Transformation outlines six steps to implement experimentation:

  1. Educate your team and align incentives
  2. Define your hypothesis and value proposition
  3. Build and execute experiments to evaluate your hypothesis
  4. Gather and analyse data from the results of the experiments
  5. Learn from the data
  6. Iterate your Approach

These six steps are essentially outlined in the above diagram. It is vital that the approach is data driven and scientific in nature rather than through intuition. It is time to start experimenting. If you start with ensuring that people understand the experimental culture and start with small things you will be able to get on the road to building a culture where experimentation is acceptable and therefore you can become the disruptor rather than being disrupted.

Exponential Attributes: Interfaces

ExO AttributesThe first of the internal exponential attributes is Interfaces. In Chapter 4 of Exponential Organizations you can read more about this.

Interfaces bridge the external and internal attributes, they take all the data created by the SCALE attributes and make sense of this internally. Interfaces ensure maximum efficiency and give stakeholders the ability to automate processes.  It is for this reason that interfaces are mission critical for ExO’s to scale.

A good example of an effective interface as described in Exponential Organisations is that of the Apple App Store. The App Store allows the nine million strong developer network to develop apps and submit these automatically to the App Store, these are ranked and categorised automatically and this has allowed Apple to scale the App Store to where it is now. From January to June 2018 Revenue generated by App developers was over $100 Billion.

Interfaces are required to manage abundance, mainly to filter and match. The thinking that is required is quite different to the business processes that are put in place to manage scarcity and efficiency.

Exponential Transformation indicates 6 steps to implement Interfaces within your business:

  1. Identify the sources of abundance you are Accessing
  2. Humanise the interaction to define the right UX or automate the interaction to define the right API
  3. Create standardised processes
  4. Apply algorithms to automate processes
  5. Test interfaces with pilot populations
  6. Update interfaces regularly

Some questions that you can ask to ensure that your interfaces will be successful are:

  1. Will the interface allow the business to Scale
  2. Do the interfaces create value?
  3. Can all of the SCALE attributes be enables with interfaces?
  4. Is the effectiveness of algorithms and automated workflows being measured?
  5. Are interfaces engaging users?

The interfaces that you create for your ExO are most likely going to be specific for your company. You need to look at what can be automated and how the abundance of information needs to be filtered and matched best to optimise your business process. Look at the interfaces of Google Adwords, Airbnb, Uber, etc. to get a better understanding and get going on creating interfaces that optimise the abundance outside of your organisation allowing you to scale.

If you find this helpful then comment and share this with people in your network. If more organisations can tap into abundance we can ensure that we improve the planet for all!

Use Radical Transparency to your Advantage

In a recent blog post by Peter Diamandis, he speaks about the fact that an abundance of data is leading to “Radical Transparency”. This is a transparency that is essentially forced onto people due to the large number of sensors and internet connected devices that will be constantly monitoring everything. When one reads a blog like this there are a number of thoughts and differing thought streams that go through your head.

First there is the issue of privacy, Peter suggests that potentially privacy may become a thing of the past. Next there is the fact that with all this data it is possible to program what is shown around us and the question of brainwashing comes up. Interestingly due to the primitive parts of our brain we do tend to think about the negative consequences of these technology advancements. But what about the positive ones where we are for example able to reduce traffic accidents to zero, crime drops dramatically due to the fact that AI enabled drone cops will see what you are doing, fatalities from natural disasters is dramatically reduced due to early warning systems and potentially stopped altogether.

Technology is advancing rapidly and whilst we cannot be naive to the fact that there is potential for these technologies to be used negatively, the positive effects will outstrip the negative. Radical Transparency can in fact be used very successfully in your favour. If you are a manufacturing company that wants to ensure that your customers trust you then use technology to show them how you produce your products. A simple live stream of your factory floor is a simple way to do this. An online dashboard of safety or cleanliness metrics can imbue trust.


Do not wait for radical transparency to be used as a tool against you it is time for you to be ahead of the curve and to show that your company can be trusted by being open to radical transparency. I have written previously about idea meritocracy and the need for radical transparency here. I also suggest watching Ray Dalio’s TED talk 

If you are unsure how to go about taking advantage of these exponential technologies and business models and culture then I highly recommend that you do a deep dive into the available online resources of books, podcasts, videos, courses and advisory services. I am being radically transparent now to say that together with ExO Works I can help you and your business to navigate this terrain in order to future proof your business.

It is important to realise that technology can be a great enabler for your business and your life. Whatever you do I ask that you embrace this and start learning!

Exponential Attributes: Algorithms

Algorithms is the third Attribute in the SCALE acronym. In Chapter 3 of Exponential Organizations you can read more about this and I suggest taking a look at the open source tool developed by the ExO Ecosystem.

The Wikipedia Article on Algorithms describes the following: An algorithm is an unambiguous specification of how to solve a class of problems. Algorithms can perform calculation, data processing and automated reasoning tasks. Essentially Algorithms are a way for an organisation to take data and turn it into valuable information. This process is now being augmented even further with machine learning and deep learning which is essentially giving algorithms the power to improve themselves.

programming-942487_1920.jpgThe wonderful thing about algorithms is that they take the data and make interpretations without any of the human bias and therefore have a great deal of power in improving efficiencies. remember that when starting out your algorithm may be in the form of a spreadsheet, but for maximum efficiency you want to automate as much as possible to avoid bias and error.

If you want to implement algorithms in your organisation you need to follow the following four steps:

  1. Gather Data: This can be from data sets, sensors, etc.
  2. Organise Data into a usable form. Often referred to as Extract, Transform and Load
  3. Apply the algorithm. There are online and open source tools to do this. Hadoop, Pivotal, DeepMind, Vicarious, SkyMind, etc.
  4. Expose the data: This is giving your data to potential partners to increase its usefulness.

If you want to run a truly exponential and scalable business then algorithms are another attribute that are pretty much a requirement to leverage sensors and devices, lower errors and provide an easy to upgrade system. Take some time to look at your organisation and the data that is produced or is available and how this data could be turned into valuable information and then make that happen.