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The Founder's Mentality: How to Overcome the Predictable Crises of Growth
Chris Zook and James Allen

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Format: Hardcover, 256pp.
ISBN: 9781633691162
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
Publication Date: June 7, 2016

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Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:

Three Principles for Managing—and Avoiding—the Problems of Growth

Why is profitable growth so hard to achieve and sustain? Most executives manage their companies as if the solution to that problem lies in the external environment: find an attractive market, formulate the right strategy, win new customers.

But when Bain & Company’s Chris Zook and James Allen, authors of the bestselling Profit from the Core, researched this question, they found that when companies fail to achieve their growth targets, 90 percent of the time the root causes are internal, not external—increasing distance from the front lines, loss of accountability, proliferating processes and bureaucracy, to name only a few. What’s more, companies experience a set of predictable internal crises, at predictable stages, as they grow. Even for healthy companies, these crises, if not managed properly, stifle the ability to grow further—and can actively lead to decline.

The key insight from Zook and Allen’s research is that managing these choke points requires a “founder’s mentality”—behaviors typically embodied by a bold, ambitious founder—to restore speed, focus, and connection to customers:

• An insurgent’s clear mission and purpose
• An unambiguous owner mindset
• A relentless obsession with the front line

Based on the authors’ decade-long study of companies in more than forty countries, The Founder’s Mentality demonstrates the strong relationship between these three traits in companies of all kinds—not just start-ups—and their ability to sustain performance. Through rich analysis and inspiring examples, this book shows how any leader—not only a founder—can instill and leverage a founder’s mentality throughout their organization and find lasting, profitable growth.


“The concept of the ‘founder’s mentality,’ and in particular our ‘ownership’ culture, has been central to our evolution and growth as a company. Remembering how we became successful in the first place has helped us act boldly and quickly with an insurgent mindset. This book offers great insights for business owners and leaders.”
—Carlos Brito, CEO, Anheuser-Busch InBev

“As a founder I resonate strongly with the themes of The Founder’s Mentality, especially with regard to the overwhelming importance of speed, singular focus, and the ability to invest for the long term.”
—Michael Dell, founder and CEO, Dell Inc.

“Zook and Allen share invaluable insight as to how to preserve a company’s founding purpose, perspective, and energy, while preventing institutionalization from diluting it. Their work has been instrumental in the way my leadership team and I think about our culture, our structure, and our business model.”
—Adrian Gore, founder and CEO, Discovery Group

“In this heavily researched and compelling book, Zook and Allen provide a road map for winning growth. Companies that build and maintain healthy cultures scale with speed and sidestep avoidable stall-out. Whether you are a start-up entrepreneur, an investor, or a Fortune 500 manager, you need The Founder’s Mentality!”
—Linda Rottenberg, cofounder and CEO, Endeavor Global

“As companies grow, scale and complexity can become a real threat to momentum. Zook and Allen’s The Founder’s Mentality offers useful insights to help leaders maintain agility in order to sustain their success.”
—Les Wexner, founder and CEO, L Brands

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About the Author

Chris Zook is a partner at Bain & Company and has been co-head of the firm’s Global Strategy practice for twenty years. He is based in Boston and Amsterdam and specializes in helping companies find new sources of profitable growth. James Allen is a partner in Bain’s London office. Co-head of the firm’s Global Strategy practice, he is founder of the Bain Founder’s Mentality 100, a global network of high-growth companies. Zook and Allen are the authors of five bestselling books on strategy, including Profit from the Core.

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