The elements of Founder’s Mentality: Bold mission

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 Developing Market 100. The DM100 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. Continue reading

Bus No. 4: Keeping the insurgency alive

BusHow do founders keep the insurgency alive in their organizations? This question was at the heart of our 19th DM100 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. Continue reading

Where the heck are my seals?

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?” Continue reading

Jaipur Rugs: Selling a family’s blessing

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. Continue reading

The iconography of founders

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.” Continue reading

Rediscovering our faith in intelligent design and secrets

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: Continue reading