How A Consulting Company’s Exponential Approach is Accelerating the Biotechnology Industry


Many companies want to experience exponential growth, but they’re not actually prepared for it. Too often, this results in team members burning out the moment growth starts picking up speed.

To illustrate the importance of having the right foundations to allow for exponential growth, I had a chat with Grant Tate. Grant is an alumnus of Salim Ismail’s Exponential Organization Master Business Course. What distinguishes Grant from many of the other leaders we have talked to from the course, is that he had a long career in another Exponential Organization (ExO) before starting his own.

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Grant worked at IBM for 30 years. Interestingly, IBM ranks 4th on the ExO Fortune 100 list, which basically means IBM implements many of the 11 attributes of an ExO. So Grant already had extensive experience under his belt working with the systems and attributes of an ExO.

During his time at IBM, Grant had 15 different management and leadership roles and was primarily in charge of starting or transforming organizations. After leaving IBM, he worked at a university for a few years and realized that an academic career wasn’t really for him,
so he started his own consulting company.

Clearly, Grant is no stranger in growing companies and handling exponential growth. So it intrigued me to know why he decided to join Salim’s ExO Master Business Course, and what he gained from it.

Here’s a summary of our conversation.

[Daniel Marcos] Can you give us some background on your current consulting company? How many people are working there?

[Grant Tate] We have three partners in the organization and then most of our team is staff-on-demand. They are part-timers who work with us on an as-needed basis. For instance, when we had a project to develop a strategy for a school system, we pulled in five different people using a technique of design thinking. Generally, we try to develop a diverse team.

[DM] Awesome, that certainly follows an exponential model.

[GT] Indeed, my company is very much an ExO type organization.

[DM] Can you share what was the most impactful thing you gained from Salim’s Exponential Organizations Master Business Course, or which aspects you did not know prior to joining Salim’s course?

[GT] Being a technologist, I was well aware of all the rapid changes going on in the world. However, prior to Salim’s presentation, I was not aware of the level of impact these changes are having on organizations. I had not really stepped back to see just how deep the impact really was.

Being part of the ExO Master Business Course then gave me a consolidated technique to address the impact these technological changes have on the companies I consult. The systematic approach was very helpful to me.

You see, as a consulting company, we have an extensive toolbox that we use with our clients. I, for one, am certified in design thinking. Different members of our team are also certified in various other techniques, such as business model generation, training, and development.

The problems our clients hire us to solve are usually complex. If a company is trying to develop a new strategy or is facing organization issues, then we look at those from a system standpoint and apply the techniques from our toolbox that we think are best for that.

Basically, we design our own solutions for that organization.


The ExO tools I learned from Salim’s ExO Master Business Course added significant new ways of looking at issues, which in turn added new tools to our toolbox.

[DM] Fantastic. Complexity is something we hear a lot from our clients. As companies grow very quickly, one of their main challenges is dealing with the rapidly increasing complexity and so they need new systems to handle the new dynamics of growth.

[GT] Exactly. There is this really fundamental idea that states: “No organization designed to succeed in the 20th century will survive the 21st century.”


I truly believe this is a fundamental idea every organization leader needs to address, yet so few are.


[DM] Absolutely. So, why did you decide to join the ExO Master Business Course?

[GT] I was really attracted to the quality of the program. The program was exceptionally well organized and presented from any measure. So one of the things I wanted to learn was how you conduct the program, and I learned a lot on that score.

I can confidently rate all presentations, videos, and methodology a solid 10 out of 10. The content was wonderful, I learned so many new ideas, and the quality of the other participants was equally outstanding. I really learned a lot from the participation of others, and gaining new ideas at a prolific rate in every single session.

[DM] That's great. Thank you for sharing that. Where is your organization now that you're working with the new ideas you gained from the course? Can you give us an example of how you applied what you learned in your day-to-day operations?

[GT] We are now working with an organization called Cville Bio Hub. It's an organization that serves 44 biotechnology companies in Charlottesville, Virginia. These biotech companies range from startups to organizations of over 100 people.

CVille Bio Hub wants to develop a strategy to exponentially grow the biotechnology industry in central Virginia, so they engaged our consulting company to help them do so.

Going in, we immediately applied the ExO techniques I learned from the program.


We're still in the early stages, but the next step would be going through the various ExO tools, select the most applicable ones, then roll them out to be implemented within the 44 biotechnology companies under their wing.

I think starting with Cville Bio Hub is really a fabulous opportunity to have multiple impacts on the 44 companies they serve, so they too can grow and learn from the ExO techniques.

We are also associated with The Trusted Advisors Network and find that the expanded toolsets has greatly enhanced our capabilities.

[DM] It’s great to see how you’ve been able to use what you learned from the ExO Master Business Course to help the clients you serve. But how has participating in the course helped your company, internally?

Earlier, you mentioned how you already implement staff-on-demand, which is one of the 11 attributes of an ExO. Are there any other ExO techniques that you're using internally, or would like to develop further within your company?

[GT] I'm very much interested in growing our community, especially since I experienced first hand just how beneficial it was to have the right community with me in the program.

Since going through the ExO Master Business Course, I've reached out to other consultants and have also pulled in some creative young people to further grow my internal organization. We are also meeting up regularly to compare creative ideas, as well as to reach out to help others through these techniques. And that's been particularly fruitful and fun.

[DM] So who would you recommend Exponential Organization Master Business Course to?

[GT] Almost everyone should join. I think those who play leadership roles at any level in an organization should be the ones who join. However, the issue that I see come up often in an organization’s immune system response. How do you get those people who are protected by the immune response to join the course and learn the new ExO techniques?

That’s why I also think a lot of HR people should take the ExO Master Business Course because a lot of the immune response tends to come from Human Resource departments.

[DM] How would you sum up your experience of the ExO Master Business Course?

[GT] I gained a lot of new ideas, learned alongside great colleagues in terms of the other participants, and enjoyed the opportunity to share and develop ideas with some of the best thinkers in the new organizations and creative space.

[DM] Awesome, I am so happy to hear it was such a great experience for you. Thank you for your time and have a great day ahead. 


Transform Your Business into an Exponential Organization

The Exponential Organization Master Business Course provides you with professional feedback, peer support, accountability and external perspective (we all know how it is hard sometimes to think “outside of the box”) so you can apply the ExO methodology successfully in your organization.

Within the program, you’ll be getting the highly-qualified guidance and support from Salim Ismail, Kent Langley, and ExO Coaches, plus an extremely dynamic and valuable network of leaders from all over the world.

Go here to know more about the course and be notified when the new cohort starts.