02 26 20

ExO Sprint

Community Newsletter for February 2020

Written By

Emilie Sydney-Smith

8 min read

ExO is spring loaded for 2020 after enjoying an outstanding Q4 that included work with ALEC, Ananda Development, and more. Read all about it in our February 2020 community newsletter.

Spring Loaded For 2020!

2019 was a great year for ExO Works:

  • We tripled sales orders. 
  • We received client approvals in the resources and finance industries for 4 Sprints and a workshop just in the week before Christmas.
  • We received more rave reviews from clients.
  • We built premium training and delivery processes to allow us to scale with consistent quality.
  • We started a collaboration with EY in which they will bring ExO Works to their clients to deliver 10X innovation ideation.
  • We started planning for four more strategic projects, which will be announced in due course.

ExO Works is truly spring-loaded for a fabulous 2020!

We thank everyone involved in getting us there.  Below is a recap from our Q4 activities and start of the year. 

ALEC Sprint

ALEC is a very impressive $1.5 billion construction company in Dubai, which was started more than 20 years ago.  Paul Epping and Tariq Querishy brought in the sale, and Paul was the Head Coach. Their commitment to transforming ALEC helped the leadership team fully commit, too. Hercu Vilojean, who leads ALEC’s innovation and is on its board of directors, said, "We are in good shape now, but if we want to be in good shape 5 years from now, we have to fundamentally change our business now.”

When Salim and I met with Hercu and Kez Taylor, the CEO, towards the end of the Sprint, they were extremely happy with the Sprint results. The board approved 7 of the 8 Sprint initiatives! The majority owner of the company attended the Sprint Launch session and indicated that most of their portfolio companies should do an ExO Works Sprint.

This is the first Sprint in which a third-party psychometric analysis was used to select the optimal Sprint teams—a highly successful experiment by Paul and Tariq.

Suman Sasmal and Ralf Bamert coached the Core teams while Diego Soroa and Luciana Ledesma coached the Edge teams. They went above and beyond to get their teams out of traditional mindsets to think big. The audacity, yet “no brainer” nature, of two of their ideas were among the best Sprint ideas I’ve seen. The social and environmental impact of many initiatives also struck me, considering the region’s wealth.

As always, I wish I could share more details.

Another innovation to the Sprint process was a huge whiteboard where the leadership, Sprint teams, and passersby had fun brainstorming the new ALEC MTP.

Kez said:

“Of all parts of the sprint, the MTP is by far the most challenging. We are getting there, but it is not good enough! With daily work, the MTP is getting better all the time. It definitely will have sustainability, future, and impact as components. This is what is the central theme of this amazing company: commitment! It is not easy to digitize mortar and brick. The sprint was a mindset shift process across all layers of the company. We are blessed to be able to work in such an amazing ExO ecosystem!”


Ananda Development, Dusit Thani and Sasin Sprint

This was our first 3-client Sprint, spearheaded by Ananda Development in Bangkok.  Ananda Development develops live/work/play properties around Bangkok’s metro stations and grew quickly to a $300 million market capitalization. It’s considered one of Thailand’s innovation success stories, and Ananda Development looked to ExO Works to initiative its next growth phase. Dusit Thani owns beautiful resorts in Thailand and beyond. Sasin is the business school of the leading Thai university.

Lars Lin Villebaek was the tirelessly can-do Head Coach for this complex 5-team Sprint, coached by Cherie Mylordis, Elena Anfimova, Nick van Breda, Patrik Sandin, and Trent Wheeler. Due to the company-based teams, they navigated the shifting desires of the clients between Core and Edge initiatives.  

We have now worked in a number of countries with command and control working cultures. We are learning more every day in how to help management become comfortable with uncertainty, so that they can create a “safe space” for creativity and big ideas.

Ananda is now building ExO-based internal processes and ways to take ExO to a greater portion of the Thai economy.

Innovative Sprint

On January 13, we kicked off a double Sprint for a multinational, $125 billion resources company.  

Trent Wheeler brought in this client and is Head Coach, with Ann Ralston, Francisco Milagres, and Sasha Grujicic coaching.

This is an innovative Sprint in many ways:

  1. We need to present the final initiatives in Week 7 to meet implementation budgeting timelines, so this is a 7-week Sprint, with a possible 3-week extension to further develop and de-risk the chosen initiatives.
  2. We are combining work with two different teams, hence the double Sprint, but there are 3 teams in total.
  3. We are working on very specific problem sets, some for an upcoming project, so all initiatives are Core.
  4. In Sprints, we are enormously focused on customer-centric initiatives, but here, the stakeholders are different, and the solutions will be measured in production economics, so the methodology is being adapted.
  5. Unlike the usual cross-functional teams, the participants are mainly geophysics and engineering PhDs, so it’s a wonderfully intense group who will be able to develop very technical initiatives.
  6. The tight project deadlines mean that the company’s staff could not meet the usual +1,200 total hours invested per team, so we have supplemented the teams with three full-time ExO participants—Giang Nguyen, Kashif Hasnie, and Jodie Wheeler—who are living in the local area for the duration of the ExO Sprint. 

These experiments are showing our adaptability in solving real, immediate problems for some of the world’s largest companies.

Workshop with a Pharmaceuticals Company

Soul Patel and I ran a workshop with a pharmaceuticals company in October. This client is a leading player in CAR-T and other cellular therapies for cancer patients. A high percentage of terminal cancer patients have gone into remission using these therapies in studies so far.

Pharmaceuticals companies usually manufacture and distribute medications around the world.  In contrast, CAR-T requires a new model of extracting immune cells from blood and sending them to a specialized lab where antigen receptors are added to the outside of each cell. The number of cells are greatly expanded. Those cells must then be delivered back to patients in time to hopefully save their lives—and within 28 days, or half the large payment is not covered by insurance in some countries.

It was a true honour for ExO Works to help develop a new business model for a client leading such ground-breaking and impactful work. We continue to advise this client and are looking forward to playing a small part in saving millions of lives.


ScanSource Conference

Francisco Milagres and I did 4 presentations at ScanSource’s ExO-themed conference attended by 1,000 of their top IT resellers in Campinas, Brazil. Their executives shouted “bravo” at the end of a presentation, and they were delighted with our work. In a wonderful twist, the senior ScanSource team each presented 2 ExO Attributes and did a pretty great job.

Other Presentations

Salim and I presented at a number of other events, such as ABIC, hosted by the King of Bahrain, and two EY events that Salim organized for their global partners in Silicon Valley that were scored 4.91 and 4.94 out of 5.

Our ExO Works core team members presented in Miami, FL, to a client in collaboration with Google, as well as with Salim at the Outthinker roundtable for Chief Strategy Officers event.

ExO Community members and ambassadors continue to hold successfully impactful ExO workshops and events with all around the world including: 

  • Switzerland with Chander Nagpal and Ralf Bambert 
  • South Africa with Colin Iles, Lance Peppler, and Craig Terblanche 
  • Finland with Fabrice Testa
  • Oman with Paul Epping
  • China with Patrik Sandin
  • And many more!

Want to learn more about how ExO Works will provide support when you hold an ExO event? Contact kelsey@exo.works

Alumni Webinar with Boston Scientific

Last week, we held a webinar with Boston Scientific’s ExO Sprint participants. Click here to watch and listen to ExO Works Alumni Andrea Delamarque, Miguel Banos, and Hernan Sanchez reflect upon their ExO Sprint experience and how they’re still using the ExO methodology and attributes to date.

Let us know what you’d like to see in next month’s ExO Alumni Webinar.

Coteminas Case Study

Curious about the initiatives created out of previous ExO Sprints? We gathered the latest status of Coteminas’ initiatives and their ability to evaluate and respond to hidden disruptive risks and opportunities—driven by emerging technologies.

“We changed the culture of our organization by creating leaders that now know how to act in an exponential way. We are excited to share this new culture with the entire company.” — Josué Gomez | President, Coteminas  

Coteminas (Springs Global S.A.) is a Brazil-based multinational corporation engaged in the manufacturing, marketing, and sale of packaged textile and non-textile home furnishings. Read the full case study here

Salim’s Top 10 Leadership Skills

Looking to improve your leadership skills, yet unsure of where to start? We collected Salim’s top 10 recommended leadership skills. Below is his view on the leadership skill of empathy: 

“The world is a complex place, and people need understanding to navigate it. Putting yourself in the shoes of others in your organization will signal that their values, their contributions are needed, and you’re willing to make adjustments for them so they can do their best work. It pays dividends: empathy reduces employee churn; output is better because employees are and feel valued; and they become champions of the organization outside of the organization.” — Salim Ismail

Read the rest of Salim’s top 10 Leadership Skills here.

The Global Transformation of Business

We have an audacious MTP: The Global Transformation of Business.  That means we need to scale to reach more large businesses; we focus on those with a valuation greater than $1 billion and staffs of more than 1,000. We also need to embed a lasting, good transformation within those companies.  No time can be wasted in both those pursuits, so we want to wholeheartedly thank all the Ambassadors who are helping us reach new companies, and the Head Coaches, Coaches, speakers, Disruptors, advisors, and partners who are helping us deliver such high quality services.

In our team’s view, this is one of the most important missions for improving the world. Once we help a company adopt an MTP, purpose and positive impact are baked into all initiatives, alongside profit drivers. By working with large companies, we can leverage their existing size, assets, and channels to spread that goodness at scale.

We are excited to grow exponentially again with you in 2020 and wish you each your best year yet.

Emilie Sydney-Smith
ExO Works

On behalf of the ExO Works core team of Anna Koleva, Caitlin Stufflebeme, Kelsey Driscoll, Sarah Alonso and Soul Patel.

Leave a Comment