ExO Works and the ExO Sprint
Today’s blog is linked to the Podcast “Exponential Organisations” and is a loose transcript of the interview I had with Mike Lingle. It won’t be a word-for-word transcript of the interview but will rather be me highlighting some key things that Mike said during the interview. I hope you enjoy it.
Mike is an experienced executive focused on helping global organizations achieve exponential transformation through the lens of emerging technologies and disruptive innovation. He is a successful entrepreneur, experienced software developer, and mentor running accelerator programs for startups. He co-founded SlideRocket.com, a SaaS-based platform for sales and marketing presentations that was acquired by VMWare in 2011.
Mike works as the Chief Growth Officer and Crypto Lead at ExO Works
Mike, how did your journey around Exponential Organisations start?
Growth of his startup
“I was a software developer for a number of years and started a bunch of companies. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to grow faster. I was lucky enough to be involved in a team where we raised venture capital with a company called Sliderocket that was presentations in the cloud and we were early in taking that to the cloud. We started around 2006-2007 and launched in 2008-2009 and so it was early in the cloud era. We had to explain the cloud concept to people. We were already using Amazon Web Services and really seeing the power of not having to have our own server but to be able to use virtual servers to scale up and down where needed. We could launch a global product with just a few team members on the development staff. We managed to grow quickly and sold the company in 2011.”
Meeting Salim Ismail
“I moved down to Miami and got very involved in the tech community. I started working with entrepreneurs to assist them to grow quickly. I ran a few accelerator programs in Miami and one of those was for a place called Rocker and Salim Ismail, the author of Exponential Organizations, hangs out at Rocker and is a part of the board. I met Salim and started to talk to him. In 2017 Salim was running a project in Miami called The Fastrack focused on how to solve traffic in Miami. I got involved in one of the teams on the project and our team ended up winning by using the ExO Sprint methodology and using the Exponential Attributes to figure out how to solve traffic. That was my first real exposure to the Exponential model. From this we funded a company that is doing the idea that we came up with and it is being piloting in Miami right now.”
Starting at ExO Works
“I saw how effective the ExO approach was and I also met the folks at ExO Works. Salim Ismail has an umbrella of companies of which one is Fasttrack, focusing on cities, and another pillar is ExO Works which is focused on large organisations to apply the ExO attributes. It helps to assist the parent organisation to be more exponential, so that they are more resistant to disruption, and so to help them experiment with new business models at the edge of the business. The edge initiatives have the potential to be bigger than the parent company. ExO Works works with companies like P&G, Visa and other large companies. I joined ExO Works almost two years ago.”
What is an ExO Sprint?
What do fast-growing companies have in common?
“A good start is to read the book Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail. Salim was working at Singularity University running their executive program and he kept seeing executives who were learning about technology and that their companies were dominating their peers. He started to ask himself what shared attributes these fast-growing companies had. What Salim lays out in his book is an ingredient list.”
The Exponential Organisation attributes
“It starts with a core purpose which is something both inside and outside the organisation are passionate about. The purpose also helps guide a company by asking people if what they are working is helping and fulfills the purpose of the company. Then there are ten more ingredients that these companies use. What the word exponential refers to is how quickly the price/performance ratio of technology is doubled. The most common example of this is Morse law.”
Exponential growth of technologies
“What we are seeing is the doubling principle not just in computers but in other forms of technology. An example of this is solar panels. These are actually chips, based on silicon, and they are double in performance. Solar energy then becomes cheaper and cheaper and more abundant. The doubling principle for solar is about ever 22 months. There is a catch though in that batteries aren’t improving quite as fast which is the reason we aren’t all on renewable energy quite yet.
Doubling at the same time
“Technologies are doubling at the same time which is creating abundance. We have an abundance in information, in computing power, we are starting to have an abundance in energy and we are starting to have an abundance of biological resources.”
SCALE and IDEAS
In the book Exponential Organizations Salim Ismail gives us a way to tap into these abundant resources. How do we tap into smart people all over the world? How do we tap into other peoples assets, like AirBnB? How do get other people to do the work for us, like Uber? Five of the ExO attributes – SCALE – helps us to tap into the abundance that these exponential technologies are creating, and five of the ExO attributes – IDEAS – help organise that abundance. It is a playbook for the shareable economy and to build platforms and ecosystems which is really where the world is heading right now”.
Getting left behind?
“Part of the magic of what Salim Ismail talks about is that he is not talking about technologies of the future – he is talking about technology available now. People think that when you learn about technology that you are going to hear about what is happening in ten years but it turns out that the future is already here and that things are changing. If you aren’t changing with them then you are getting left behind already.”
What to do?
“When Salim Ismail gives his speeches then people get it but ask what do I do now? How do I bring this into my organisations? The ExO Sprint is the answer to that question. It is a 10-week process that is designed to bring the answer and to help the organisation to figure out it’s own solutions using the ExO methodology. We don’t consult. We want companies and cities to come up with their own solutions. ExO Works forms teams from the company itself and assists them to use the 10-week sprint. During the ten week process the client learns as much as they can and we push them as far they can. They through a bunch of stuff against the wall to see what sticks. Everyone comes together in the middle of the ten-weeks and we do a kind of shark tank/dragons den presentation of half-baked ideas. We tear these ideas apart and we help put them back together. We then spend the next five weeks really focusing on what is likely to work, validating it with customers, creating prototypes, iterating, creating business cases and then bringing those business cases to management in the final presentation. At this point management funds the appropriate business cases on the spot. Business cases come in two flavours. The first is Core and focuses on building exponential processes into the core business and the second stream is how you begin to experiment with new business models on the edge of the organisation. The edge projects relate to where the next success for the company is going to come from.”
“The ExO Sprint is also about training skills. Not only do we provide an education for the employees of these companies, but we actually run them through 200 hours of using those skills. When they come out the don’t have just intellectual knowledge but they also have practical experience of running this process. The idea is that as companies run more and more ExO Sprints that it becomes the core of their innovation process.”
“The third thing an ExO Sprint is that it helps drive culture change. A lot of times it is culture that prevents a company from innovating - even when the break through ideas are great and will work.”
What successes have you seen from the ExO Sprint?
Procter and Gamble (P&G)
“They invited Salim Ismail to do an awake session that melted everyone brain. They then said that they got it but what do we do now? P&G were already best in class, and so it wasn’t like they were in trouble, the question was how do we evolve from here? There wasn’t a traditional playbook to allow them to evolve further so they needed a new approach. They setup a “Super Innovation” division that only looks at 10X initiatives. They wanted this team to think bigger and specifically focus on IT shared services – supply chain, payroll, finance etc. He setup this division called “Next Generation Services” and they actually helped create the ExO Sprint process. They ran 25 pilots in three years and generated at least $400M in value.”
“A second story is where we worked with the largest insurance company in Mexico. We ran a ExO Sprint with them and part of the process was that they setup an innovation lab to generate and execute the Exponential Attributes. The following year after the ExO Sprint there was a horrible earthquake in Mexico City that did a ton of damage. A lot of Mexico was not insured at the time and this created a ton of fear, and lots of financial loss and every insurance company in Mexico stopped offering insurance for two weeks. What INTERProteccion did was that they put their ExO Sprint teams back together and worked on how they would help in this situation. In 72 hours they created a new product , got it underwritten and launched it into this market where everyone else had stopped offering insurance. The product was free after shock insurance for 2 months. They helped a lot of people in Mexico City that were under insured so that they felt safer financially. After the free 2 months they saw almost a 40% conversion rate of people taking policies. Many of these people had never had insurance before. It was a win all the way round.”
Are you seeing an increase in companies interested in Exponential Organisations?
“The answer is yes and there are a couple of different pieces. The umbrella organisation is www.openexo.com and they are in charge of building the community and driving the ExO Movement forward. They bring people in and certify them. This community has grown to over 2,000 specialists who are available to help companies, citied and start-ups around the world. OpenExO is growing very rapidly. At the same time we had done a ton of great work with cities and organisations around the world. We have case studies, great client references and so a combination of this and OpenExO is pushing interest levels higher at an exponential rate.”
Thank you Mike for being my guest in this blog and podcast. To listen to the full interview subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, spotify or listen on www.ideastorm.co.za.
I hope you have enjoyed and found this blog valuable. If you would like to talk about any of these concepts further, then let’s chat. You can book me online using Calendly at https://calendly.com/ideastorm, contact me through my website at www.ideastorm.co.za or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until then have a fantastic week!