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Review of Exponential Organizations

Cover of Exponential Organizations

Some say that the Singularity University is science fiction expensively packaged for execs, but even if one always needs to take grandiose claims and hyped inventions-to-be (or never-to-be) with a grain of salt and some skepticism, this is still a book anybody with an interest in innovation and technology should read. It is an enjoyable read and there is plenty of good ideas in the book, although these are not fleshed out in enought detail to make them actionable advice.

One of the most important points is the Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP), which is more than a vision or mission statement. This core idea has to be stated clearly in few words, but it has to be compelling enough to inspire the initial people, smart enough to nurture a community as it grows, and audacious enough to give plenty of room for growth.

Other key points from the book are the notions of SCALE and IDEAS:

S: staff on demand
C: community & crowd
A: algorithms
L: leveraged assets
E: engagement

I: interfaces
D: dashboards
E: experimentation
A: autonomy
S: social technologies

As a somewhat negative point, it necessarily has to take from the same examples as everyone else ( Uber, AirB&B, Twitter, GitHub, Local Motors, SnapChat, FaceBook etc) and in that sense it is too mainstream. It would have been nice to look at minor players making an impact in more significant areas, because, honestly, SnapChat does not really have an MTP.

If you like the Lean Start up approach, this book looks at some of the same ideas. It has some really interesting insights into how larger organisations can create, invest in, develop businesses that are free to grow and change without the constraints of the larger parent company. Gives great rules/guidelines for how to setup a business that could grow quickly, not so much from an actionable advice angle, but more from the inspirational outlook and the potential of great bold ideas.

My own copy is heavily underlined and annotated, but I leave here a list of quotes other readers have taken the trouble to put together in a list.


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