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 15

The elements of Founder’s Mentality: Bold mission

By | December 15th, 2015|Death of the nobler mission, Founder's Mentality defined, Insurgency|0 Comments

FM-Wheel-Insurgency-bold-mission-220x207This is the first of nine blog posts examining the elements of Founder’s Mentality: Insurgency, frontline obsession and owner mindset. Here, we look at bold mission, one of the sub-elements of insurgency.

As 2015 draws to a close, we thought we’d offer you another round of lessons from the Founder’s Mentality 100 (FM100). The FM100 is Bain’s initiative to assemble some of the top insurgents in the world into a single forum to co-create solutions to what we call the growth paradox: Growth creates complexity, and complexity kills growth. […]

Nov 30

Bus No. 4: Keeping the insurgency alive

By | November 30th, 2015|Death of the nobler mission, Lost voices from the front line, The Journey North|0 Comments

BusHow do founders keep the insurgency alive in their organizations? This question was at the heart of our 19th Founder’s Mentality 100 (FM100) meeting, held in Johannesburg, and the conversation benefited from the experiences of two extraordinary former occupants of Bus No. 4.

It turns out that Adrian Gore, the founder and CEO of Discovery, and Robbie Brozin, the founder of Nando’s, shared the same bus to the King David School as kids. (For the record, both of them wanted to point out that Robbie was somewhat older!) Thank goodness for that bus driver—he had in his care the future founders of two South African companies that ultimately went global and illustrate how founders keep the insurgency alive as the company scales. […]

Nov 25

Where the heck are my seals?

By | November 25th, 2015|Death of the nobler mission, The erosion of accountability|0 Comments

FM-blog-post-11-24-15-220x207No, this isn’t a blog about careless trainers at SeaWorld. You are about to learn far more about splash-proof electrical sockets than you ever realized you needed to know.

But before we get into that, let’s start with a question that inevitably comes at the end of almost all conversations with CEOs on Founder’s Mentality: “OK, so if you were me, what would you do starting tomorrow?” […]

Aug 5

When weavers disagree

By | August 5th, 2015|Death of the nobler mission|0 Comments

Antar- (Classic Gray -Ensign Blue)This blog post is simply to tell you that a carpet design produced by arguing weavers from a rural village near Rajasthan, India, was just nominated for a major global design award. But it is also a great illustration of the power of an insurgent mission.

One of the joys of writing these blog posts is that a great little company sometimes discovers them and, in turn, we discover a great little company.  This was the case with Jaipur Rugs, which we introduced to readers earlier this year when discussing great insurgent missions. Founder Nand Kishore Chaudhary and his children have followed our posts and have implemented quite a few of the recommendations. We’ve also held “strategy-on-a-hand” workshops with Jaipur Rugs to identify the three or four critical capabilities that help the company deliver its strategy. […]

Apr 8

Jaipur Rugs: Selling a family’s blessing

By | April 8th, 2015|Death of the nobler mission|2 Comments

jaipurWe spend a lot of time in our Developing Market 100 meetings talking about insurgent missions, and because the following sequence has recurred four times now, I will refer to it as the “typical” conversation.

First, we introduce the concept of insurgency: Most founder-led businesses start as insurgents, at war with their industry on behalf of underserved customers. Second, we walk around the room asking the attendees to tell their insurgent stories. At first, they struggle, as most founders default to their latest mission statement, performance ambition or strategy. All of these are statements of intent, but seldom reveal the real insurgency of the company. Third, in the middle of our struggle, one founder, often the quietest in the room, will offer the following sentence: “Oh, now I get it, our insurgent mission was X.” And X is an extraordinary statement of intent—demonstrating that he or she has every intention of transforming his or her industry. The room is inspired, and other founders quickly follow suit. […]

Feb 27

The iconography of founders

By | February 27th, 2015|Death of the nobler mission|0 Comments

Founder's MentalityI’ve devoted most of January and February to leading roughly 20 workshops in the US and Europe on a single topic: How do large incumbents recover their Founder’s Mentality®? The next few blog posts will be about key themes raised during these workshops. I’ll start here with the topic that came up most often: How can leaders keep the spirit of the founding period alive through stories and symbols? We started to call this “the iconography of founders.” […]

Sep 30

Rediscovering our faith in intelligent design and secrets

By | September 30th, 2014|Death of the nobler mission, Net benefits of scale and scope|0 Comments

Rediscovering our faith in intelligent design and secretsIn his new book, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel argues aggressively that the goal of any new start-up should be to build a “creative monopoly.” By that he means entrepreneurs should aim to create a new market and be the only competitor in it (think Google in search advertising). There’s no point in becoming yet another competitor in a crowded market (think most airlines).

Thiel powerfully advocates for the role of creators in business―those companies that create what he calls “entirely new categories of abundance” (see this Wall Street Journal adaptation). He contrasts creators with undifferentiated competitors that fight endlessly (and earn little to nothing) to win a piece of a static industry. In our language, Thiel is arguing for the power of insurgents over incumbents, where the insurgent’s world is about creating new markets and the incumbent’s is too often about dividing up existing markets.He writes: […]

Jul 9

Taking the inevitability out of bureaucracy

By | July 9th, 2014|Death of the nobler mission, The complexity doom loop, The curse of the matrix, The path to Scale Insurgency|0 Comments

Founder's Mentality - Taking the inevitability out of bureaucracyWhen corporate executives talk about creeping bureaucracy they tend to sound like frustrated gardeners battling an infestation of kudzu—cut it back today and it will reappear tomorrow. We recently assembled some of Japan’s most successful corporate leaders in Tokyo for a discussion of the Founder’s Mentality and how companies can maintain it as they grow. All agreed that taming bureaucracy was one of their stiffest challenges.

“When you grow,” said Asahi Group CEO Naoki Izumiya, summing up the group’s common view, “you inevitably become bureaucratic, and it happens for all the familiar reasons while you are still growing.” […]

May 25

Solar systems, shampoo sachets and reviving the nobler mission

By | May 25th, 2014|Death of the nobler mission|1 Comment

450_baseThe core topic of the Developing Market 100 workshops we ran with founder-led companies in Mumbai last week was “How to maintain the insurgency.” As we’ve been discussing in these blog posts recently, few management challenges are more difficult.

Most companies start as insurgents. They enter their market on behalf of an under-served customer segment and largely ignore the “rules of the game” defined by the larger industry incumbents. They are open to radical innovation in product and business model, doing whatever it takes to serve the target customer. They care little about the establishment and are united from top to bottom around a nobler mission. The goal of providing something new and truly different lends everything they do more meaning. […]

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