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

Micro-Battles-220x207This Founder’s Mentality® topic has become quite hot, and we’re working with a lot of business leaders on how to become scale insurgents. Central to this work is the idea of micro-battles, which at their simplest help large companies rediscover the art of getting stuff done fast. Let’s introduce you to what we call the Bain Micro-battles System.

Context: The six building blocks on the journey to scale insurgency

Context matters. What matters most is the growth paradox: Growth creates complexity, and complexity kills growth. Understanding how companies respond to this core problem has led us to look at companies on two dimensions:

All great companies start as insurgents, at war against their industries on behalf of underserved […]

May 3

Build Learning Systems To Reconnect with Customers and the Front Line

By | May 3rd, 2017|Fragmentation of the customer experience, Frontline obsession, Lost voices from the front line, The path to Scale Insurgency|0 Comments

Learning-systems220x207For many people in business, the “experience curve” has become an artifact of the manufacturing age. While it explained a lot about market supremacy when huge, stable producers like General Motors and Caterpillar led the economy, it is less useful as a predictor of dominance in the digital world.

The concept is simple: The more a company does of something, the more it learns and the better it should get at doing it. The resulting efficiency becomes a major competitive advantage, which only increases as the company gets bigger and gains more experience. In modern industries characterized by turbulence and technological disruption, however, a feisty insurgent can very quickly render a company’s accumulated experience irrelevant. And with the global shift to services, where unit costs are less of an issue, the relationship between experience and efficiency is not so clear.


Apr 5

The Lost Engines of Growth

By | April 5th, 2016|Frontline obsession, Lost voices from the front line|0 Comments

fm-wheel-engine-v02All leaders constantly must address the growth paradox: Growth creates complexity, and complexity kills growth. In these blogs, we have talked a lot about the first half of that paradox—that is, how growth creates complexity. We’ve highlighted how companies gain from the benefits of their new size as they grow—including scale and scope advantage, market power and influence—but lose their Founder’s Mentality. And we’ve examined the organizational costs of this loss—namely, speed, employee engagement and clarity about which talent matters.

In the next couple blogs, though, we’re going to focus specifically on the second half of the paradox—that is, how complexity kills growth—by discussing what we call the “lost engines of growth.” Below are the three engines we see companies losing most often. […]

Dec 4

Insurgents and customer loyalty

By | December 4th, 2015|Lost voices from the front line|0 Comments

nps-podcast-220x207We use the word “insurgents” to define companies with strong Founder’s Mentality, because those companies are literally at war with their industries on behalf of underserved customers. They’re on a mission to give customers better service or better products, or both. That’s why the company exists and why an obsession with the front line is one of the key elements of the Founder’s Mentality. Losing touch with the voices from the front line is one of the biggest risks insurgents face as they scale.

Recently, I talked about this on a podcast with my colleague Rob Markey, who is just as obsessed with customers and the front line as any company founder. Rob is a leading expert on customer loyalty and the coauthor, with Fred Reichheld, of The Ultimate Question 2.0—the definitive book on the Net Promoter System®. […]

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 28

When founders founder and other tales

By | November 28th, 2015|The unscalable founder|0 Comments

60e62b884169c82ef11adfb1d2801f64Readers of this blog know that although the Founder’s Mentality is a great strength for any company, the founder himself or herself can sometimes be a weakness, especially as the company is seeking to scale. This week, The Wall Street Journal’s Experts Blog ran my blog on “Three common mistakes entrepreneurs make when starting to expand,” which details four common traits of the westward winds we refer to as “unscalable founder.” I hope you enjoy it and will consider sharing it if it resonates within your company. […]

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?” […]

Nov 23

Ah, look at all the clever people

By | November 23rd, 2015|The complexity doom loop, The curse of the matrix, The erosion of accountability|2 Comments

blog-post-11-23-15-220x207In just the past two weeks, I’ve heard two different CEOs, one European and one Mexican, ask, “How do I deal with all the clever people who are slowing down my company?”

My first thought was, of course, “all the lonely people,” the refrain from the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby,” and both CEOs looked at me quizzically as I started to hum the song. My second thought was that it is time to write a blog on this topic. […]

May 26

Founders and the economics of mountaineering

By | May 26th, 2015|The erosion of accountability|0 Comments

Mt. EverestOn a trip to Switzerland recently, I had the great pleasure of hearing famed mountaineer Reinhold Messner speak at a corporate event. He was handing out copies of his latest book, My Life at the Limit, and I snatched one up to read on my plane ride home. Messner was the first climber to conquer all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks, the first to summit Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen, and has been to both poles and crossed the Gobi Desert. I’ll admit it’s far less glamorous, but his story also has parallels with how founders manage their profit and loss statements so effectively. Let me explain. […]

Mar 17

Six lessons from the hardest job on the “court”

By | March 17th, 2015|Frontline obsession, Lost voices from the front line|0 Comments

stopDuring our two months of workshops exploring how large, incumbent companies can regain their Founder’s Mentality, we spent a lot of time talking about the importance of defining your “kings” (those most accountable for delivering your customer promise) and the “court” (those whose primary goal should be to support the kings). As we’ve written many times in this blog, clarity of this sort ensures that the whole organization is customer focused, either directly or indirectly. […]

Load More Posts