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4 key lists to drive 10x growth in 2019

Make a dramatic impact by applying ExO thinking

When Art Peck, CEO of the 3000+ clothing store chain The Gap, presented to shareholders this time last year, he laid out a growth strategy that he labelled “Balanced”.

But if you think balanced means passive, you’re wrong.

The Gap is pulling out all stops to become one of the most technology driven, proactively competitive clothing retailers in the world, just take a look at the hopes for Revenue Growth at the bottom of this graphic published on its website:

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Chasing 10x Revenue Growth

Peck is chasing 10x.  

10x revenue growth is one of the characteristics of an Exponential Organisation (ExO).  And, it’s imperative all organisations, even iconic and seemingly cumbersome clothing retailers, get on board the ExO train to survive and thrive beyond 2019.  

Peter Diamandis, co-founder of Singularity University, says an ExO is “as technologically smart, adaptive and encompassing (not just of employees but of billions of people in vast social networks) as the new world in which it will operate – and ultimately transform".

According to Salim Ismail’s blockbuster bestseller Exponential Organisations, ExOs all have a Massive Transformative Purpose, and 10 other internal and external attributes.

The Massive Transformative Purpose list

The Gap’s mission statement "create emotional connections with customers around the world through inspiring product design, unique store experiences, and competitive marketing" is quite nice, but it’s not a Massive Transformative Purpose.

Google’s is – “Organise the world’s information” and so is the MTP of Singularity University “Positively impact one billion people.”

The MTP list of must haves:

  • Uniqueness

  • Leaders walking the walk

  • Massive scale

  • A transformative idea

  • Purpose

  • The ability to capture the imaginations of those inside and outside the organisation

  • The ability to spawn a cultural movement with the power to PULL

ExOs must aim high (“the world, a billion people”) otherwise the scale will outpace the business model and leave the company lost and directionless.


One of The Growth Faculty’s most popular speakers Simon Sinek popularised the word Why in his book Start with Why.  

ExOs work hard to find their Why. So ask yourself Why does this work? Why does this company exist?

“Millennials (1984 and 2002) are showing an orientation towards seeking meaning and purpose in their lives. They are drawn to companies that have MTPs and live up to their tenets,” writes Ismail.  

SCALE – the list of five external attributes of an ExO

  1. Staff on demand

  2. Community and crowd

  3. Algorithms – machine learning and deep learning (discovering new patterns without being exposed to any historical or training data)

  4. Leveraged assets (renting or sharing assets, or leveraging assets – not owning assets, not even strategic ones)

  5. Engagement (positive feedback loops, which in turn offers up innovative ideas)

IDEAS – the list of five internal attributes of an ExO

  1. Interfaces – critical to scale seamlessly (Uber has driver selection, algorithm matches best/closest driver to user location).

  2. Dashboards - new way to measure and manage the organisation – a real time adaptable dashboard with all essential company and employee metrics.

  3. Experimentation – testing assumptions and constantly experimenting with controlled risks.

  4. Autonomy – self organising, multi-disciplinary teams operating with decentralised authority.

  5. Social Technologies – once the “water cooler” effect, now transparency and connectedness through digital communication (Gartner Group dubbed this a zero latency enterprise where the time between idea, acceptance and implementation all but disappears)

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Be Lean, And Embarrassed

In other words, according to Ismail, the more assets and workforce you have, the harder it is to switch strategies and business models. The more information-enabled you are, the more strategic flexibility you have.

A diagnostic survey ( will help you measure the Exponential Quotient of your organisation.

In industry after industry, the development cycle for products and services grows ever shorter. As LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman has said, “If you’re not embarrassed by the product when you launch, you’ve launched too late.”

Exponential Organisations explains the new mindset.

Like the shift from film photography to digital photography, once you change the substrate from a material, mechanical basis to a digital and informational one, the match is lit for an inevitable explosion.  

Rent, Don’t Own

Salim Ismail explains there’s less and less need to own a factory, a laboratory, even a scientific tool. Instead, why not rent not those assets, reducing upfront investment and eliminating maintenance?


The list of 12 Steps To Become An Exo:

  1. Select an MTP (Massive Transformative Purpose).

  2. Join or create relevant MTP communities (collaborate).

  3. Compose a team (Patrick LencioniThe Advantage” argues that the single best way to determine the health of an organisation is by observing the leadership team during a meeting.  It’s a barometer of team dynamics, clarity, decisiveness and cognitive biases. Everyone must share a passion for the MTP).

  4. Breakthough Idea – transform the status quo, it’s not an incremental change

  5. Build a Business Model Canvas (BMC) - elaborate how to get it to market. BMC by Alexander Osterwalder was popularised by the Lean Start up model.

  6. Find a business model – it’s not so much about disruptive products, but about new business models threatening incumbents.

  7. Build the MVP (Minimum Viable Product).

  8. Validate marketing and sales (drive new customers to the product).

  9. Implement “SCALE” and “IDEAS” –  not all, but determine which attributes to execute.

  10. Establish the culture – the glue that keeps the team together.

  11. Ask key questions periodically – questions include “which customer problem are you solving” and “how will you drive the marginal cost of supply towards zero”.

  12. Building and maintaining a platform – identify a pain point, identify the core value unit you offer, design a way to facilitate interaction between producer and consumer and determine how to build a network around the interaction.


Disrupting Before You’re Disrupted

According to Exponential Organisations, a steady stream of corporate executives pass through Singularity University in search of their holy grail; any mechanism to manage disruptive innovation.

As one participant said, “….we’re thinking beyond next quarter’s earnings report – way beyond. Most of (us) are here to drive disruption in our own companies – before two kids in a garage do it for us.”   

And just for fun, my suggestion for a Massive Transformative Purpose for The Gap:

“Clothing the world for keeps”


Singularity University is coming to Sydney on November 14-16. Limited places left. Click here to secure your place.

Members of The Growth Faculty can watch a video interview with Salim Ismail discussing his book Exponential Organisations.

Not a member? Join The Growth Faculty.

Christine Kininmonth is a journalist and former panellist on ABC TV’s The New Inventors.  An avid reader herself, Christine believes reading is essential to business success. She presents The Growth Faculty’s Business Book Club each week.