Exponential Organizations: Lessons from Disruptors Who Thrived and Perished

May 2, 2023

Have you ever wondered what sets apart the companies that thrive in today's fast-paced business world from those that perish? 

Is it just luck, or is there a formula for success that these companies have mastered? As an entrepreneur, you know that standing still is not an option – you need to constantly innovate, adapt and grow to keep up with the competition. 

In this article, we will explore the concept of Exponential Organizations (ExOs) and how they have become the disruptors of our time. By examining the lessons learned from both successful and failed ExOs, we can gain valuable insights into what it takes to thrive and avoid being left behind in today's ever-changing business landscape.

Lessons from Successful Disruptors


Language, learning, and education technology

162x Valuation Growth

Key Growth Levers

  • 40% of revenues on Research and Development
  • Interactive and gamified UX
  • Dashboards and analytics
  • Empowerment and learning culture


3D Printing Marketplace

67x Valuation Growth

Key Growth Levers

  • Building and engaging community
  • Leveraging data and AI for pricing and supply chain management
  • Strategic partnerships for co-development
  • Culture ambassadors for the “unusual approach”


Payment services

43x Valuation Growth

Key Growth Levers

  • Simplicity in product proposition
  • Focus on the User Buyers (Developers)
  • Customer collaboration and experimentation
  • DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) approach 


Online e-commerce

40x Valuation Growth

Key Growth Levers

  • Challenging industry conventions
  • Large product portfolio, customer engagement, hype creation
  • Experimentation and empowerment
  • Data and artificial intelligence

Lessons from Failed Disruptors


Microblogging and social networking

99.7% Valuation decline

Key Failure Modes

  • Need to follow acquiring company technology framework and standards
  • Lack of clear approach to monetization
  • Not recognizing and responding to market trends


Mobile-first event discovery and booking service

96.5% Valuation Decline

Key Failure Modes

  • Over-investing in hype marketing than the core value proposition
  • Inability to successfully scale across geographies and markets


Discount deals marketplace

87.7% Valuation Decline

Key Failure Modes

  • High customer acquisition costs, low partner stickiness, low entry barriers
  • Global model not fit for purpose for local markets across geographies


Action camera and video-editing software


Key Failure Modes

  • Value proposition: Niche vs. mainstream
  • Exuberance and shifting pricing strategy
  • Poor product quality and unsuccessful pivoting
  • Extravagant life and work style


3D Printing marketplace and service bureau


  • Delayed/slow pivoting and response to external market shifts
  • BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) detached from realities of underlying performance and capabilities

The Role of Exponential Organization (ExO)

In Exponential Organizations, Salim Ismail discussed how certain businesses were doing much better than others, and identified 11 things that these successful companies had in common.

The book led to a study of the top 100 companies in the US, and they found that the companies with these 11 common denominators (which they called "Exponential Quotient" or "ExQ") did much better than the companies that didn't have them. They found that the top 10 companies with the highest ExQ did much better than the bottom 10 companies with the lowest ExQ. They had:

  • 40x Higher shareholder returns
  • 2.6x Better revenue growth
  • 6.8x Higher profitability
  • 11.7x Better asset turnover

Over the years, the top 10 Exponential Organizations among the Fortune 100 have successfully sustained and enhanced their scalability and adaptability, also known as their Exponential Quotient (ExQ). They achieved this by making five critical strategic choices which are the bedrock of their success.

To become an Exponential Organization, businesses should adopt the following strategies:

  1. Establish a Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) 

Aspire to create sustainable value and a better future for all stakeholders through SMART goals, Moonshots, and Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs).

  1. Lead from the Front

Lead an engaged and visible leadership team with a sharp vision and foresight supported by dashboards and performance dialogues at all organizational levels.

  1. Invest in Dual Transformation

Exploit the current operations and improve performance at the CORE while exploring the future and growing at the EDGEs through holistic business, operating, and management model innovation.

  1. Adopt Agile Ways of Working

Nurture diverse talent and capabilities internally and externally, embedding experimentation and structured flexibility, and fostering autonomy and collaboration across the organization.

  1. Accelerate Digitalization

Leverage artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other fourth industrial revolution technologies to improve and innovate the business model.

These are essential lessons for any organization looking to improve its business performance in the ongoing disruptive and hyper-competitive era. 

OpenExO offers several solutions to help organizations rise above everything that the VUCA era keeps throwing at them. 

The Exponential Quotient (ExQ) survey enables business owners to assess and attribute a quantifiable value to your ability to scale and adapt in real-time. By adopting the Exponential Organization formula, you can transform your business and "Be the Disruptor" instead of "Being the Disrupted."

If you're ready to scale your organization exponentially, join expert speakers Coach Maxim Mulyadi (Founder of Circularity Coach International & Certified ExO Trainer) and Younis Hijazi (Founder of 10x Indonesia & Certified ExO Trainer) in a LIVE WORKSHOP "Disrupt or be Disrupted: 3 Secrets for Future-Ready Leaders"!

In this workshop, you will learn:

✅ The importance of developing an exponential organization (ExO) mindset

✅ How to master the art and science of building an Exponential Organization

✅ How to create an exponential business model with disruptive technology

They will be your guide in mastering these key learnings: 

🎯 Creating your Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) 

🌟 Understanding the 10 attributes of an Exponential Organization

📈 Integrating exponential initiatives into your company's development 

By the end of this webinar, you will be able to:

✅ Have the right structure to build an exponential company

✅ Identify who to hire and what team to build

✅ Identify what capabilities to develop to accelerate your growth

You will also get:

1. An Exponential Quotient Assessment

2. A Business Made Simple assessment

3. A draft of an ExO initiative for your company

4. A One Page Strategy Plan for ExO

5. A Free discovery call with Younis & Coach Maxim

Date: Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Time: 8 AM - 5 PM (GMT +7)

Duration: 8 hours

Location: Shangri-La Hotel, Jakarta

Investment Fee: IDR 4 mio (Super early bird)

Don't miss your chance to turn disruption into an opportunity to achieve 10x exponential growth for your business. 


The future belongs to those who are prepared, and we're here to equip you with the knowledge and tools to stay ahead of the curve. Transform your mindset and revolutionize your business — Register today!


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