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Embracing and Embedding Exponentially

Leveraging the 11 ExO attributes as the new cornerstones, an organization can aspire to be purpose-driven, aim to disrupt instead of getting disrupted, and strive to deliver sustainable and exponentially superior business results.

Chander Nagpal
Chander Nagpal

The current VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) era is characterized by a world full of risks and challenges—in a hard to predict and often confusing technological landscape. Organizations are struggling to get their strategy right, and those which do have a reasonable grip on the business strategy run the risk of failing in the execution.

As per a recent global survey by a leading global consultancy firm with more than 6,000 respondents from companies of various sizes, geographies and industries:

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Only 32% of the respondents think that their strategy is bold enough

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70% of the executives are concerned that their strategy is not clear enough about how they create value.

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55% of the respondents highlighted that their strategy is out of reach

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Overall, only 35% of the executives believe that their strategy is going to lead their company to success

Reference: Strategy&

While alarming and downright scary, the above numbers also offer the business leaders an opportunity to reimagine their why, what, and how for a real sustainable competitive advantage.

The approach is about strategically shaping an organization’s future by creating the change leadership wants to see. It’s about challenging the status-quo and the conventional wisdom, seeing the corners and disrupting before being disrupted, and most significantly, identifying and committing to a new identity and culture.

Admittedly, this requires a tremendous amount of passion and courage—but if the organization’s senior executives (individually and collectively) are not inspired and determined to change, then perhaps the battle is already lost.

"You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-Christopher Columbus

Unfortunately, passion without capabilities is a battle lost as well. A reimagined, shaping-the-future strategy also requires reconceptualizing the hard side (products and services, processes and systems, skills and knowledge) and the soft side (mind-sets and behaviors, structure and interfaces) of any organization.

The last decade has taught us that the “new” successful organization (a startup or an incumbent alike) has strikingly desperate hard and soft characteristics compared to those outlined in the classics and best-sellers such as “In Search Of Excellence” by Tom Peters, “Build to Last” and “Good to Great” by Jim Colins.

In their seminal work “Exponential Organizations,” Salim Ismail and others have decoded the “new” formula of success to be:

MTP + S.C.A.L.E. + I.D.E.A.S.

An Exponential Organization (ExO) is a massive transformative purpose-driven entity that leverages new technologies and a set of common organizational attributes that allow the firm to tap into and manage the abundance to scale exponentially as technology does.

Organizations, when it comes to their “ways of working” could fit one of the six archetypes ranging from LOST to EXPONENTIAL.


LOST: Lacks clear and relevant direction and/or basking in historical success. Need for change doesn't exist/not appreciated.

AWARE: Aware of the threats and need for change, but not proactive enough to shift from "traditional and linear" to exponential through an integrated strategy.

DEVELOPING: Inspired to re-imagine and proactively focusing on building "new" exponential capabilities, while addressing different hard and soft organizational limitations.

COMPETENT: Has re-imagined the purpose, and focusing on scaling few "new" exponential capabilities while learning from and refining the execution approach.

EXCELLENT: Massive Transformative Purpose driven and has effectively deployed few exponential and differentiated capabilities on scale, while staying focused on and committed to fully getting there.

EXPONENTIAL:  Has embedded capabilities across several of the 11 ExO attributes and build an aligned culture, and uses their coherence to not just playing well, but changing the rules of the game.

Leveraging the 11 ExO attributes as the new cornerstones, an organization can aspire to be purpose-driven, aim to disrupt instead of getting disrupted, and strive to deliver sustainable and exponentially superior business results. Pursuing this journey towards becoming an Exponential Organization is never simple—but it is always a transformation worth making. The choice is yours.


To develop an understanding of and find out how exponential your organization is, you can start with determining your ExQ (Exponential Quotient). From there, you may then develop a strategic path on where you would like your organization to be.

If you want to be inspired or are already inspired to become an Exponential Organization—then reach out to embark on this highly rewarding and exciting journey.

This article was first posted at ExO Works on November 8, 2019.

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Chander Nagpal

With more than 25 years of experience in driving transformation initiatives, Chander is pronounced with a passion for delivering sustainable 10X impact through inspiring, engaging & enabling people.