Exponential organisations


Here are my notes from Exponential Organisations, a book recommended to me this weekend by a VC in Paris.

  1. Have a “massively transformative purpose (MTP)”  (ie a worthwhile mission)
  2. Don’t plan more than 1 year ahead.
  3. Measure your metrics.

    Acronym alert: the first letters of the next 5 characteristics make up the word SCALE.

  4. Staff on demand – have a small permanent core, and hire when needed
  5. Community and Crowd – make use of your partners, collaborators, and fans
  6. Algorithms – use them
  7. Leveraged assets – use other people’s things
  8. Engagement – networks, games, positive feedback loops

    Acronym alert: the first letters of the next 5 characteristics make up the word IDEAS.

  9. Interfaces – connect your people with your organisation so make sure they’re great
  10. Dashboards – make it easy for people to access (useful and interesting) data
  11. Experiments – run them, learn
  12. Autonomy – give people as much freedom and responsibility as possible
  13. Social technologies – stay open and accountable


Useful thoughts:

  • Good checklist / framework for thought —  if you’re starting or running an organisation which is mainly around reconfiguring and making use of existing assets whilst creating the minimal amount possible.

Idle thoughts:

  • It seems that acronyms are to business books what parables were to Jesus. This one is no exception.
  • It’s interesting that using plain language isn’t enough. We have to have “big hairy audacious goals” and “massive transformative purposes”. It’s not enough to just “do something sensible” – business books seem to insist that you’re about to set out on a Knight’s Errand. I guess this is useful from a motivational perspective, but I fear that when the illusion fails, it hurts more. Getting beaten up is painful. Getting beaten up whilst wearing your invincible super-hero costume must be heart-breaking.
  • This is an approach to organising resources, Alexander the Great style. If everyone takes this approach of making the best use of others’ assets, who would be making the assets for others to exploit?

Ed Dowding

Ed Dowding

Founder, strategist, writer, gadfly, TED talker, world-record holder, and (foolishly) reality-TV farmer. DOES: Innovation, Product, Advocacy THINKS: Regenerative Systems, Institution design, 300 year horizons

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