May 6

Introducing the Bain Micro-battles System℠

By | May 6th, 2017|Founder's Mentality defined, Insurgency, Micro-battles, Net benefits of scale and scope, Southward winds, The Journey North, The path to Scale Insurgency, Westward winds|0 Comments


 We’ve been doing less blogging lately because this Founder’s Mentality® topic has become quite hot, and we’re working with a lot of business leaders on how to become scale insurgents. The biggest new developments involve micro-battles, and the purpose of this blog is to get you up to date. We’re also going to step back to provide context and lots of links to previous blogs if you’d like to explore further. […]

May 5

Create a Company of Insurgents

By | May 5th, 2017|Insurgency, The path to Scale Insurgency|0 Comments

Company-of-Insurgents220x207Insurgent companies thrive on a culture of speed, focus and a direct connection to customers. But as any leader of a large incumbent company can attest, those cultural attributes are often the first casualty of a growing bureaucracy. Meetings and deliberation swallow up speed. Process and systems muffle the voice of the front line and customers. The sheer complexity of the portfolio overwhelms the clarity of the insurgent mission.

As we discussed in the first building block, reviving growth and sustaining it starts with rediscovering the insurgency and locking it in with the people who need to deliver it. But inspiring your people to act like insurgents also involves a concerted effort to revive the insurgent culture that was so critical to the company’s ability to win against larger competitors with deeper resources. The key is to reeducate the organization about what […]

May 4

Simplify to Fuel Growth

By | May 4th, 2017|Insurgency, The path to Scale Insurgency|0 Comments

Simplify220x207Vocabulary matters in business. One of the problems many large companies face is that bureaucrats have won the vocabulary war. They want us to believe that the opposite of simple is advanced and that to simplify means to dumb down, to cut corners, to somehow be less advanced.

But for our purposes, the opposite of simple is complex. To simplify is to improve systems and processes by making them more straightforward. Importantly, simplification is also a way to redeploy. Streamlining something or making it easier to do allows you to free up resources and move them elsewhere to support other priorities.


May 2

Refocus the Operating Model on Your Franchise Players

By | May 2nd, 2017|Insurgency, The path to Scale Insurgency|0 Comments

Franchise-players220x207As they drift along the default path toward struggling bureaucracy, companies very often lose focus on the employees who really matter—those in mission-critical roles. We refer to these employees as “franchise players.” They are the people who deliver the insurgent mission to customers.

Imagine, for instance, I’m a big box specialty retailer of kitchen and bathroom plumbing fixtures. My insurgent mission is to deliver “well-designed, contemporary kitchen and bath fixtures at wholesale prices.” Now imagine I’m a consumer attracted by that mission and I head into the store to buy a modern rain shower-type shower head. Who delivers that insurgent promise to me?

Well, first it must be the store category manager who is responsible for the shower head aisle. She has arranged the aisle, kept it clean, and made sure the right choices are easy to find. She is also probably walking the aisle ready to advise me. All in all, she is delivering the benefit of customer intimacy that is part of any great insurgent mission.


May 1

Build Engine 2 to Challenge Industry Rules and Boundaries

By | May 1st, 2017|Insurgency, The path to Scale Insurgency|0 Comments

Engine-2-220x207Incumbent companies are notably bad at strategic adaptation and will always find it difficult to respond to the threat posed by insurgents in their industries. Yet sustainable growth often demands the ability to explore and commit to new revenue streams to offset the natural slowing of a mature core business. Leadership’s first priority has to be giving the core business model more room to run by reviving the Founder’s Mentality® and dialing in growth led by the front line. But leadership also has to entertain the notion of throwing out the old model and working on a new one.

These things don’t have to be mutually exclusive—scale insurgents focus on optimization and innovation at the same time. The challenge involves mindsets. Most large companies have to force themselves to adapt their strategy-development process to cope with the chronic turbulence and uncertainty of global markets. This rarely comes naturally to an organization vested in the status quo. Large companies also have to look at the innovation challenge through a new set of lenses. They have to upend an incumbent’s propensity to fight the future and must encourage people to imagine how they can use the company’s biggest assets—scale and accumulated experience—to disrupt markets rather than defend them.


Apr 30

Rediscover the Insurgency and Capability Spikes to Accelerate Growth

By | April 30th, 2017|Frontline obsession, Insurgency, The path to Scale Insurgency|0 Comments

Rediscover-insurgency220x207People who work for insurgent companies are on a mission to redefine their industries. They know what their company stands for, and they believe its offerings can transform an underserved customer segment. They have a clear bias for action and a loathing of bureaucracy.

But as these same companies evolve into industry leaders, the sense of insurgency that fueled their growth often wanes. People begin to define themselves by the timeworn rules of their industry and start defending the status quo rather than continuously reimagining it.

The first building block on the path to scale insurgency, then, is to rediscover the insurgency and lock it in with the key people who must deliver it. Think about three things here.


Feb 6

Leon: Founder’s Mentality in Action

By | February 6th, 2017|Frontline obsession, Insurgency, Video|0 Comments

It’s popcorn time again.   A while back we offered up a little film on Jaipur Rugs and how the company’s founder and his leadership team kept their insurgent mission alive by connecting their weavers and customers.   Now we tell the story of UK-based fast food chain Leon and the founder’s quest to answer a simple question:  “What if God Made Fast Food?”

Please enjoy this remarkable story of Founder’s Mentality in action.  As you watch the video, ask yourself:

  1. Are our people as passionate about the insurgent mission of our company as Leon’s team?   (For that matter, you might ask whether your own company still has a clear insurgent mission.)
  2. Does this passion translate into a different customer experience?   Does your company have the same sense of frontline empowerment, where each team feels like mini-founders transforming their industry?


Dec 29

State the Obvious

By | December 29th, 2016|Death of the nobler mission, Insurgency|0 Comments

switch-220x207I’ve just returned from Argentina where I had a chance to meet with the management team of Mercado Libre, Argentina’s largest company by market cap, and one of four Argentinian unicorns (insurgent companies valued at greater than $1 billion). As often happens in these meetings, I was able to see Founder’s Mentality in action: In this case, Marcos Galperin, the CEO and founder, explained that what really defines his team is its profound belief in technology and its ability to continually disrupt industries. The Mercado Libre story also provides a simple lesson: Talk about the obvious. More on that in a moment.

First, a bit of background on the company. A group of Stanford Business School students founded Mercado Libre in 1999 in a garage in Buenos Aires while finalizing their studies.  The founder, Marcos Galperin, is still the current CEO. The company has emerged as the largest online retailer in Latin America and Galperin is recognized as one of the world’s top entrepreneurs. In addition to being named Argentina’s Entrepreneur of the Year (2012), Fortune named him one of the top entrepreneurs under age 40 in 2010, an honor he shared with Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook founder) and Marc Andreessen (Netscape co-founder).  […]

Dec 28

How to Super-size the Economy

By | December 28th, 2016|Frontline obsession, Insurgency, Owner mindset|0 Comments

founder-special-sauce-220x207One of the new movies on offer this holiday season is the Michael Keaton film “The Founder,” which depicts how Ray Kroc’s relentless drive turned a small California restaurant into the ubiquitous McDonald’s chain.

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed James Allen and I wrote called “The Company Founder’s Special Sauce” (subscription required, or view the digital reprint on In it, we noted that Kroc epitomized many of the traits of the Founder’s Mentality. Indeed, his autobiography, Grinding It Out, was one of many books by founders I read during our years of research for our book, The Founder’s Mentality. […]

Oct 24

The Key Traits of Great Founders

By | October 24th, 2016|Insurgency, Video|0 Comments

Most successful businesses start off with a clear insurgent mission on behalf of underserved customers. They are at war with their industry and each employee understands the company’s bold vision—and is inspired by it. Yet as a company grows over time, this insurgent mission and sense of purpose can become diluted.

Our research of hundreds of founders across more than 40 countries has shown that great founders consistently work hard to maintain that clear insurgent mission. They have a laser-like focus on the long-term goals of their business. Great founders listen to their customers and are always looking to innovate and push the boundaries to stay ahead.

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