Starting the Founder’s Mentality revolution in a large company

Revolution in large companyI love entrepreneur Steve Blank’s phrase “hacking the corporate culture.” While he focuses on how to increase agility and adaptability to increase innovation, I think the phrase applies more broadly. Over the past two weeks, I was at two workshops (one in Europe, the other in China) at the division level of huge multinational corporations. In both, the question discussed was: “How do we create change in a large organization were we are not at the top and don’t completely control our destiny?” Or, as Blank might ask, “How do we hack the corporate culture?” Continue reading

Ah, look at all the clever people

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. Continue reading

Taking the inevitability out of bureaucracy

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.” Continue reading

Zero-basing the center

Zero-basing the centerAt the most recent DM100 meeting in Jakarta, as members discussed the “Monday morning” actions they would take when they returned to their companies, one member said he needed to “zero-base” his center.

This thought came as he reflected on the westward winds that were killing his business— the lost voices of the front line and the erosion of accountability. A lot of zero-basing exercises start with the ideal and then add complexity to address obstacles to this ideal. Let’s examine these two items. Continue reading

Seven types of yes

Seven types of yesIn our business, we sometimes stumble on ways to describe behaviors that have gone un-named. Once named, we can set about reinforcing good behaviors and stopping bad ones.

An example is my list of the seven types of yes. About 15 years ago, I was working with a multinational client, and as we sorted through the strategy, we were pleased to see that our meetings ended with a lot of head nodding. That convinced us that we were advancing the agenda. But after each meeting, we discovered this wasn’t true. The yeses we were getting weren’t the type of yeses we wanted. I interviewed each member of the working group about what they meant by yes and discovered that there are, in fact, seven types of yes. Continue reading

Put the country first, but get a good sponsor

Founder's Mentality: Put the country firstOne of the major themes we have been exploring is how individual leaders bring a Founder’s MentalitySM to large, complex organizations. Specifically, we’re asking: How do great leaders ensure their own teams feel like insurgents, while also making sure they maintain positive connections with the more complex international organization?

As we’ve explored this question, we’ve discovered a large number of leaders who are able to create this balance. One of the most extraordinary examples is D. Shivakumar, or Shiv, who ran Nokia India from 2006 to 2011. He is credited with driving Nokia’s brand recognition in India—making it the most trusted brand across all consumer products categories in India, and increasing its retail presence from 35,000 outlets to more than 200,000. Continue reading

The four great balancing acts

The four great balancing actsDuring my recent trip to Brazil, one founder asked me to provide a list of the likely tensions his fast-growing company would face over the next couple of years. I prepared four key items, which I refer to as The Four Great Balancing Acts of fast-growing, founder-led companies:

1. The tension between nurturing the Founder’s MentalitySM (looking backward) while capturing benefits of scale and scope and building new capabilities (looking forward). Continue reading