Review of The Founder’s Mentality

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9 Overall

9 Applicability

8 Innovation

8 Style


Bain & Company partner Chris Zook, an expert in discovering sources of “profitable growth” for his clients, and James Allen, co-leader of Bain’s Global Strategy practice, are the best-selling co-authors of four books on “how to win the external strategy game.” Here, these forward thinkers address the fundamental conundrum of growth: In the process of growing, companies face proportionally increased “complexity,” which can stifle that growth. Zook and Allen describe three predictable crises related to growth. The first, “overload,” occurs when expanding organizations try to cope with scaling up but only generate internal strife. The second, “stall-out,” happens as “organizational complexity” increases rapidly, causing a sudden – and often permanent – slowdown in growth. And third, “free fall,” is an abrupt halt of primary market growth so sudden that management can’t cope with it. Companies that avoid or overcome these crises and embrace continued growth share one crucial commonality: a driven, visionary “founder” whose “mentality” permeates and shapes the organization’s culture.

About the Authors

Bain & Company partner Chris Zook focuses on finding clients their next source of “profitable growth.” He co-authored the bestsellers Profit from the Core and Repeatability with James Allen, who co-leads Bain’s Global Strategy practice and founded Bain’s Founder’s Mentality 100, a worldwide network of high-growth firms led by their founders.


The Research

The authors detail the “years of research and analysis” that anchor their conclusions about the ephemeral qualities of growth. They tracked “all public companies in the global stock markets” and set up a Bain database to examine 25 years of financial results from 1990 to 2014. They found that the companies that maintained “profitable growth” for the longest time focused on their “core” business while seizing opportunities that orbited around that core.

When Zook and Allen examined the leadership of these firms, they discovered that the founding leaders were still active. They served as day-to-day executives; as members of the board; or as the fount of the company’s ethos, practices and goals.

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