Disrupt
or be disrupted. There is no middle ground.

The ExO Sprint

The ExO Sprint is a repeatable innovation process to help large organizations move the needle on big-picture results such as share price, profitability, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement.

Act Exponentially.

Shifted Mindset

Engage and empower your future leaders to boost morale and drive successful innovation across your organization.

Accelerated Innovation

Use our proven methodology to help your organization adopt the exponential attributes that are shared by the world's fastest-growing companies.

Exponential Growth

Exponential organizations deliver 10x the performance of their peers by rapidly leveraging the abundance created by emerging technologies.
“It’s been a fabulous journey, not just in terms of coming up with new ideas, but infecting the broader organization so that you can actually run your operations differently. When you’re a large enterprise, success isn’t all about what a small group of people is doing in isolation; success is about the transformation you bring back into the core.”- Tony Saldanha, VP Global Business Services, P&G

Our transformational ExO Sprint compresses years of learning into just a few months—to help organizations like yours deliver 10x results by thinking, acting, and innovating exponentially.

The Results Speak for Themselves

Outcomes-P&G Procter & Gamble has used the ExO Sprint process to launch over 25 initiatives, 8 of which are on track to deliver either $50+ million in revenue or a 10x lift in customer satisfaction.
Outcomes-Visa Visa Brazil used the ExO Sprint to reprogram their corporate culture and narrow 135 suggested ideas down to 4 that they've launched successfully.
Outcomes-TDAmeritrade TD Ameritrade has run two ExO Sprints with us and created a new Startup Studio to incubate selected initiatives.

“We were in the perfect place to be disrupted but didn’t know where to begin. The Sprint was the answer. It was our best investment for moving forward...in the first six months [after finishing] we had record sales. It shook the organization and completely transformed our culture, breaking down boundaries and opening a whole new world of innovation. Our entire mindset has shifted. It prompted us to make the best of ourselves. All our competitors are wondering what happened.”- Francisco Casanueva, CEO of INTERprotección

Why and How Does an ExO Sprint Work?

Click Here To Find Out

The book "Exponential Organizations: New Organizations Are Ten Times Better, Faster, and Cheaper Than Yours (and What to Do About It)" was published in 2014. It correctly identified that emerging technologies are creating abundance, explained how smart companies are using this to expand their global reach at lower cost, and introduced the ten attributes that exponential organization (ExOs) are using to leverage and manage this new abundance.

Since then we've worked with Salim Ismail to develop the ExO Sprint methodology. Along the way we've helped clients like P&G, HP, Visa, Rassini, and Sareb to both become more exponential and to launch disruptive initiatives.

Established companies are great at optimizing their core business, but usually not as great at unlocking and disrupting adjacent markets. For Amazon, core initiatives are Prime Membership and Prime Day, which drive more eCommerce transactions. An edge initiative is Amazon Web Services, which now delivers more than half the profits to the parent company.

But the corporate immune system kicks in and kills edge initiatives before they have a chance to succeed. This makes it hard for large companies to truly innovate, and leaves them ripe for disruption. It didn't matter how good Kodak got at manufacturing and processing film if they didn't ever make the jump to digital photography.

Our clients run ExO Sprints in order to reprogram the corporate immune system to support—rather than kill—these ambitious innovation projects.

We help you construct four teams of your most innovative managers. Then we engage them in a 10-week immersive process where they're coached by our global network of thought leaders in exponential technologies. We see the best results when your people bring the industry and company expertise—while we expand their minds and train them on our process.

Much of the ExO Sprint is run virtually, and we ask your C-level executives to be involved in three in-person sessions: week 1, week 5, and week 10. We've found this high-level buy-in to be very effective in reprogramming the corporate immune system.

An Exponential Journey

In just 10 weeks, the ExO Sprint massively accelerates your organization's ability to evaluate and respond to hidden disruptive risks and opportunities—driven by emerging technologies and fast-changing customer needs. We create four teams of your managers and coach them to master new skills for exponential success and the ability to implement proven innovation processes within your business.

The ExO Sprint is divided into 8 stages:

Click through to explore each stage of the journey.
 

  • Assess
  • Awake
  • Align
  • Define
  • Disrupt
  • Refine
  • Launch
  • Execute

Assess

Assess Session

We spend 30 days before the Sprint making sure you'll have the most productive results. We'll help you construct diverse and effective Sprint teams, walk you through our timeline and what to expect, schedule the in-person sessions, interview a representative cross-section of your executives and employees, and provide you with a customized road map of where to play and how to win at exponential transformation.

Results

Your organization is ready to hit the ground running when the ExO Sprint starts. You also have timeline and a plan for optimizing your execution process before the end of the ExO Sprint.

Awake

Awake Session (Week 1)

A half-day in-person session for an extended audience (C-suite, management, and other employees) to learn about opportunities from exponential technologies, linear versus exponential thinking, and disruption risk. We explain the strategies powering the world’s fastest growing companies—the ExO Attributes—and how they can be profitably implemented into your business. We provide access to a roster of world-class speakers, including Salim.

Results

We use "shock and awe" to shake up any complacency in those who think that simply getting better at the status quo work can help you compete with outsiders who are using new technologies and business models to work 10x faster, cheaper and better. We inspire your people to leverage ExO techniques to profoundly improve your existing business—and build exponentially profitable new business lines.

Align

Align Workshop (Week 1)

An interactive two-day in-person session where your Sprint teams work with their ExO Coaches to first evaluate your company’s status quo, and then start using the ExO methodology to brainstorm and validate new business ideas. Equality within the teams allows members to unshackle their creativity, and exercise skills they usually suppress in their jobs.

Results

Sprint teams start to see how swiftly they can accomplish research, idea generation, and market testing using the ExO methodology. They move beyond incremental mindsets to thinking big about profitably changing the world for the better, leveraging the unfair advantages of the parent company. They also release themselves from the anti-failure mindset that stifles productive brainstorming and product releases. 

Define

Define Phase (Weeks 2-4)

Teams connect virtually during the first five weeks to research emerging technologies, new business models, and potentially disruptive startups. They refine their understanding of your business’ risks and opportunities. Each team develops 10 initial ExO-potential ideas, then uses customer validation and competition analysis to whittle those down to the best 4 initiatives. Teams start to access members of the ExO Ecosystem for specialized advice, while learning how to access advice from other companies and experts. Each team presents their progress regularly to both the ExO Coaches and client representatives to ensure that they are on track.

Results

Participants typically report that they work faster and more productively than at any other time in their lives. They become comfortable with failing fast and well, then using those learnings to pivot to ideas with higher potential. They define the existential risks to your organization and open their minds to hidden opportunities for both protecting against disruption—and expanding your profit opportunities.

Disrupt

Disrupt Session (Week 5)

An intensive one-day in-person session where teams pitch their initiatives to a panel of their own senior executives, along with ExO Ecosystem members who have extensive start up experience. It's like a full day of Shark Tank to help your teams strengthen and rework their "half-baked" ideas.

Results

Teams get to road test their ideas halfway through the ExO Sprint, while there are still five weeks left to adjust.  They receive feedback on which initiatives are the most compelling to management—and therefore would be likely to get traction if pitching to investors—before they get too attached. They receive specific suggestions on how their ideas can be improved or pivoted, plus strategic introductions.

Refine

Refine Phase (Weeks 6-9)

Teams connect virtually during the second five weeks, and each choose their two highest-potential initiatives to pursue. They create minimum viable products or wireframes of how their product or service would actually operate, in order to learn from potential customers. They evaluate the financial potential, initial funding requirements, rollout process, and potential initial partners, suppliers, and customers. During this time, the teams continue to present their progress regularly to both the ExO Coaches and client representatives to ensure that they are on track. Teams also continue to access the ExO Ecosystem of advisors to learn more about specific technologies and new business models.

Results

Teams learn how to validate their ideas in more detail, identify their own biases, and assess risks. Their sense of achievement from learning so much so fast inspires them that they can, in fact, profitably change the world for the better. The final product is an impressive final pitch for each initiative. 

Launch

Launch Session (Week 10)

Each team presents their final initiatives during an intensive one-day in-person session to their C-suite and other executives. After this session, we often recommend that company leadership indicate which initiatives will move forward for further incubation.

Results

Teams experience the high-pressure environment of pitching to their senior leaders and thinking on their feet to answer probing questions about the initiatives. Most participants report being awe-struck by how much they achieved. Many commit to continuing that degree of productivity post-Sprint, whether back in their usual roles, implementing the chosen initiatives, or coaching future Sprint teams.

Execute

Execute Phase (After Week 10)

The biggest difference we see in our clients is how prepared they are to execute the innovation initiatives that come out of the ExO Sprint. We can make introductions to trusted partners to help build new companies. For clients who want to develop and strengthen internal capabilities we offer ongoing support to guarantee the launch of initiatives by creating and filtering a promising portfolio, guidance in launching successful pilots, and scaling to achieve significant business value wherever possible.

Results

Your organization successfully launches multiple initiatives that move the needle on big-picture metrics like share price, revenue, or customer satisfaction.

Coaching Not Consulting

We coach your people—instead of consulting—because you know your business best. By internalizing the winning methods that allow for continuous adaptation, you can help your organization be fully-invested in the implementation and growth of the initiatives that result from your Sprint.

  • Outcomes-P&G

    Procter & Gamble: ExO Sprint, USA 2016

    • Created new innovation division, learned to run their own Sprints
    • Have launched 25 initiatives to date
    • 8 are on track to deliver $50M+ in value or 10x lift in customer satisfaction
    • Turned several IT shared services into revenue generators
    View The Case Study
  • Outcomes-Visa

    Visa: ExO Sprint, Brazil 2017

    • Country Manager used the process to relaunch / change culture
    • Employees presented 135 new product ideas, of which 4 have launched
    • ”Some ideas will become products and some will be incubated internally”
    • ”The multidisciplinary spirit of the way of working has been ingrained in the company.”
  • Outcomes-Coteminas

    Coteminas: ExO Sprint, Brazil 2018

    • Taught new mindset to executives, learning to think an order of magnitude larger in scale.
    • ”Everyone is blown away in the level of thinking and methodologies that we are using.”
    • ”We achieved mindset reset in certain parts of our business that we knew would fall behind.”
  • Outcomes-Sareb

    Sareb: ExO Sprint, Spain 2018

    • Executives were made fully aware of technology changes and the startup landscape.
    • Leadership reported ”ideas must come from inside, inspiration from outside.”
    • They process supported a culture of creating leaders to keep changing the organization.
  • Outcomes-TDAmeritrade

    TD Ameritrade: 2017 + 2018 Sprints, USA

    • Created new Start up Studio
    • Our primary contact, John Hart, was promoted to head the new Studio
    • Sprint participants had unprecedented access to their CEO during multiple working sessions

The ExO Sprint shifts the organizational mindset to leverage emerging technologies, creates actionable business plans, and drives business transformation.

Fortune 500 companies trust us

Some of our recent clients:

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ExO Ecosystem

Access the world’s most powerful network of experts in today's—and tomorrow's—emerging technologies.

From AI to VR, the ExO Ecosystem plugs you into our community of 200+ industry specialists and advisors providing guidance & insights in all of the most challenging and disruptive industries:

“87% of employees worldwide are not engaged at work. Companies with highly-engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share.”- Gallup

Boost Employee Engagement and Retention

The ExO Sprint helps you identify and support future leaders—arguably your most valuable employees—by giving them new skills and the ability to contribute to your company's innovation initiatives. The process boosts diversity and inclusion, and one of our ExO Head Coaches notes that "While running the second Sprint for a major US-based financial services organization, I noticed something quite exciting. While I had been impressed by every participant in both Sprints, the absolute standouts were predominantly women."

Here are individual outcomes of the ExO Sprint for your participants:

  • Significant mindset shift from linear+scarcity to exponential+abundance
  • New knowledge of cutting-edge technologies
  • Practical experience of LEAN and ExO methodologies
  • Action learning around experimentation, business modeling, and—most importantly—customer validation

 

 

Here's what participants in previous ExO Sprints have to say:

"I’m learning so much I feel like my brain is bleeding when I go to bed each night."
"It's changing how we think and how we look at innovation. And what I see here is really different from all the innovation that we did up until now, and we did a lot. It will definitely yield new opportunities."
"The personal discovery about myself and people I work with was a huge takeaway, I've grown a lot in the past 10 weeks."
"This is totally transformative. Like drinking from the firehose. I got to meet people across the depth of the culture, this was outstanding."
"I thought of this as a mini-MBA. I have my MBA which cost a lot more money and time and this was a LOT more useful."
"It's scary to see how other companies are disrupting you, and you realize how much you have to do to keep up."
"Going through the Sprint has made me a better manager and better at my job. I learned to step back from the shiny object syndrome and to focus more on team dynamics."

The Corporate Immune System

ExO Works has a proven ability to help large corporations reprogram the immune system that stifles innovation. We take a top-down approach that fosters mindset shift across the organization with proven results.

Read more about the corporate immune system and strategies for reprogramming

“Companies may promote the idea of new business creation, [but] in the end they are all in the business of reducing risk and building to scale—which is, of course, the antithesis of entrepreneurship and new ventures.”- John Seely Brown

Outcomes for Your Organization

A new practical focus on disruptive innovation
Enterprise-wide awareness of exponential technologies and how to harness them
Development of sophisticated approach to "build, buy, or partner" to reach innovation goals
The ability to replicate ExO Sprints and the processes that drive innovation
A portfolio of validated early-stage initiatives ready for further incubation

Frequently Asked Questions


Becoming Exponential

We’re doing great— do we really need ExO Works?

Many ExO Sprint participants choose to run their Sprint when business is at its best precisely because it provides the ideal environment for shifting focus and energy on becoming better. When an organization isn’t contending with critical issues, negative influences, or outside pressure, it becomes possible to allocate time and assets towards alignment, growth, and the development of internal skill sets and resources.

Even for companies that are performing well and achieving goals, participating in an ExO Sprint fosters the flexibility, adaptability, and innovation needed to stay ahead of competitors.

ExO Works created the Exponential Quotient (ExQ) in partnership with Hult International Business School and showed a 3x outperformance in share price for the high-ExQ members of the Fortune 100 vs. the S&P index over two years (2015 and 2016)—and vastly outperformed their low-ExQ peers. Read about how ExO Works and Hult also measured the FTSE 100's ExQ in 2017.

Is my industry really at risk of disruption?

Yes. In today’s world of advancing technologies, information sharing, innovation, expanding reach, and falling costs—every industry is at risk of disruption. There are no exceptions. Disruption often comes from unexpected people and places outside your industry—the school teacher or college dropout whose startup has harnessed the Exponential Organizations attributes to scale incredibly fast with minimal marginal cost.

We’re already working on a portfolio of initiatives and have more ideas than we can handle. Do we really need more?

ExO Sprints aren’t intended to overwhelm an organization with new ideas and initiatives. Instead, the Sprints have been designed to help organizations evaluate and prioritize existing and pending initiatives while also providing them with the means to develop new internal skill sets, transform organizational mindsets, and unlock opportunities that were previously unobtainable.

Why is it so hard for big companies to innovate successfully?

Cultural and societal norms have dictated the “best” pathways to organizational success—while also defining “organizational success”—for decades. Typically, the “best” options are those that maximize efficiency via controlled, incremental changes that are often recognized as the “safe bets.”

This kind of traditional, linear thinking—which is typically driven by the desire to satiate organizational immunity and please well-establish bureaucratic hierarchies— is most often responsible for the systematic suppression of the “crazy” (i.e. truly disruptive, innovative, or revolutionary) ideas that make real change and growth possible.

In many cases, the older or better established an organization is—the more likely it is to be bound and limited by these “safe” conventions.

 

Why Do We Need an ExO Sprint

How is the ExO Sprint different than other innovation approaches?

An ExO Sprint condenses three years of learning into a streamlined, hyper-focused approach capable of being delivered over the course of a few weeks, and providing a clear path for organizations to think, act, innovate, and disrupt with the agility and drive of the world's fastest-growing companies.

The ExO Sprint includes elements of lean, agile, and design thinking methodologies. By providing a framework and the content to support it, the ExO Sprint empowers an organization with the perspective and processes needed to achieve meaningful outcomes.

Our main differentiators are:

  1. ExO Sprints include access to our global ecosystem of experts across dozens of industries, emerging technologies, and business models.
  2. The ExO Sprint is designed to reprogram the corporate immune system to support innovation—instead of slow it down.
  3. We coach your people to come up with game-changing ideas—unlike traditional consultants geared towards incremental change and cost-cutting.
What were the outcomes of past ExO Sprints?

The ExO Sprint is designed to deliver the following outcomes:

  • Alignment and collaboration with current innovation strategy.
  • Organizational and individual behavior change to reprogram the "corporate immune system".
  • Portfolio of validated innovation initiatives for both the core business and adjacent markets.

Among past Sprint participants, organizational goals that were set—and ultimately achieved—included:

  • Developing & launching 25 initiatives, 8 of which are on track to generate either $50+ million in revenue or a 10x increasing in customer satisfaction.
  • Launching new Core initiatives and Edge companies.
  • Converting existing internal functions from cost centers to revenue generators.
Which companies have run ExO Sprints?

Past ExO Sprint participants include Procter & Gamble, Coteminas, Sareb, Visa, Rassini, INTERprotección, Iké Asistencia, Widen, Hewlett-Packard, Stanley Black & Decker, TD Ameritrade, and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority—spanning industries including financial services, consulting, manufacturing, insurance, consumer electronics, consumer packaged goods, textiles, automotive, energy, public utilities.

Can I speak with previous ExO clients?

Yes. We’re happy to connect you with the CEOs and other executives we’ve worked with in order to share references and best practices.

Will Salim Ismail (ExO Works co-Founder and author of "Exponential Organizations") be involved in our ExO Sprint?

Since our founding, Salim Ismail has played an integral role in helping the ExO Works team conceptualize and develop the ExO Sprint process. Currently, Salim is participating in Sprints as an ExO Speaker, specifically during the Awake Session of the Sprint. As with all ExO Speaker roles, Salim’s involvement is contingent on availability and involves an additional fee that is set by the Speaker’s representation. As an alternative to in-person engagements, Salim increasingly presents live via a virtual platform. Each ExO Sprint also includes presentations, workshops, and coaching from the world's foremost thought leaders in exponential organizations.

 

The ExO Sprint

How long does it take to run an ExO Sprint?

ExO Sprints are typically run over ten weeks, with a 30-day setup period beforehand.

Who from our organization should we invite to participate in the ExO Sprint?

We help you construct four teams of between 4 to 6 people each (16 to 24 team members total from your organization). These are usually your managers, directors, and most innovative employees—valuable team members you want to engage and retain. Your team members should expect to spend 30% to 50% of their time on the ExO Sprint for the duration of the program. While there may be certain challenges related to accommodating a large time commitment from such a significant population, we’ve found that the organizations that succeed in making these accommodations maximize the effectiveness of the ExO Sprint and achieve the best possible results.

We also ask that your C-suite and executive leadership be involved in three in-person sessions during the ExO Sprint: week 1, week 5, and week 10. This combined bottom-up and top-down participation is what drives alignment across your organization and helps reprogram the corporate immune system. 

We also required that each organization designates a project “champion” who will be responsible for coordinating the effort and driving alignment internally. 

The time commitment is our biggest ask, but it's also what's required in order to drive behavior change, build skill sets, and develop a portfolio of early-stage Core and Edge initiatives that can actually move the needle at a large organization.

What is a Core initiative?

A Core initiative improves an organization’s primary business model, and most companies are focused on this type of innovation. Examples of Core initiatives for Amazon.com would be the Prime Membership and Prime Day. We include Core initiatives in our ExO Sprints because they are quicker to implement, and therefore buy time for the longer commitment required for Edge initiatives.

What is an Edge initiative?

An Edge initiative unlocks a new business model by leveraging at least one unfair advantage provided by the parent company. Amazon Web Services is a great example, which turned an internal initiative into the source of the majority of the profit for the parent company.  It’s these Edge initiatives that have the potential to drive massive results, but they’re also the hardest for successful organizations to implement because of the “corporate immune system."

How many ExO Ecosystem members will take part in our ExO Sprint?

A typical ExO Sprint will involve between 15 and 50 members of the ExO Ecosystem:

  • ExO Speakers for both the Awake and Disrupt sessions (Salim often does the Awake session)
  • ExO Head Coach—to run the ExO Sprint
  • ExO Coaches—one per team
  • ExO Align Instructor—to instruct the teams on how to participate in the ExO Sprint
  • ExO Disruptors—three panelists to run our "Shark Tank" event on each team's half-baked ideas during week 5.
  • ExO Core Team Members—to provide ten one-hour "Advisor Session" per team with deep dives into specific emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, internet of things, blockchain, robotics, and more. Our Collective Intelligence Swarms throw groups of our advisors at each time to quickly anwhatever questions they have and quickly expand their knowledge.
  • ExO Reporter—to record and summarize all learnings through the ExO Sprint in order to help the teams and your organization. We also constantly look for ways to improve the process.
  • ExO Client Relationship Manager—We provide a talented member of our core team to help you navigate the ExO Sprint process from start to finish.
How is the success of an ExO Sprint measured?

The ExO Sprint provides a repeatable process to drive digital transformation, organizational change, and successful long-term innovation. 

Some of the outcomes are immediate, including skill set development and mindset shift for the participants, alignment across the organization (executives, management, and "feet on the street"), and a portfolio of validated Core and Edge initiatives ready for further development.

Core initiatives usually have a shorter time-frame and provide quicker wins on metrics the parent organization cares about like share price, revenue growth, and customer satisfaction.

This intentionally buys time for the Edge initiatives, which often require longer time frames and may initially use separate metrics around growth and engagement. The promise of the Edge initiatives is that they can eventually drive massive new growth (think of Waymo, Google's self-driving car division, being valued at over $150 billion) and turn the parent company into the disrupter—instead of the disrupted. Most successful companies find it hard to innovate at the Edge, but the ones who fail at this are typically the ones who disappear. We intentionally designed the ExO Sprint process to solve this problem.

What happens before an ExO Sprint?

We spend 30 days before the Sprint making sure you'll have the most productive results. We'll help you set goals, construct diverse and effective Sprint teams, walk you through our timeline and what to expect, schedule the in-person sessions, interview a representative cross-section of your executives and employees, and provide you with a customized road map of where to play and how to win at exponential transformation.

Your organization is ready to hit the ground running when the ExO Sprint starts. You also have timeline and a plan for optimizing your execution process in preparation for the end of the ExO Sprint.

What happens after an ExO Sprint?

The biggest difference we see in our clients is how prepared they are to execute the innovation initiatives that come out of the ExO Sprint. We can make introductions to trusted partners to help build new companies. For clients who want to develop and strengthen internal capabilities we offer ongoing support to guarantee the launch of initiatives by creating and filtering a promising portfolio, guidance in launching successful pilots, and scaling to achieve significant business value wherever possible.

 

What Else?

The ExO Network

The ExO Ecosystem is a growing coalition of the world’s foremost innovators, disruptors, entrepreneurs, specialists, and thought-leaders. From tech gurus to convention-challenging founders, specialists from across industries and the globe partner with ExO Works and other ExO entities to address—and find solutions for—questions and challenges capable of changing the world as we know it.

Do teams need any additional tools or resources to execute an ExO Sprint?

We run all of ExO Sprints on our ExO Lever platform, which includes assignments, instructional materials, and collaborative forums for the teams. Lever is also the gateway to our global ecosystem of thought leaders in emerging technologies.

In addition, participants are free to use your company's choice of video conferencing, chat, and document management tools. We've successfully used the following tools in previous ExO Sprints: Google Drive for document collaboration & storage, Slack for messaging, and Zoom for meeting and conferencing.

“The ExO Sprint turned our white attack blood cells into red life blood cells.”- Eugenio Madero, CEO, Rassini