Growing Gains, Not Pains
If you’ve ever had the privilege of working for a growing organization, you know how challenging it can be.
Every problem is a gift—without problems we would not grow.
―Anthony Robbins, motivational speaker and writer
If you’ve ever had the privilege of working for a growing organization, you know how challenging it can be. Chris Zook and James Allen,1 authors of The Founder’s Mentality, call this the paradox of growth: it creates complexity, which is a silent killer of progress. They say the following challenges increase with an organization’s size and complexity:
- Revenues growing faster than talent
- Increasing distance from customers
- Complexity of decision making slowing down the company
- Inability to choose focus and direction
- Difﬁculty mobilizing resources
Do any of these “ring a bell” for you based on your work experience? Have you felt helpless in trying to manage these products of growth?
Zook and Allen propose a clear plan for maintaining the traits of a winner to ensure that growth is gainful instead of painful. In their survey of executives, 85% cited internal barriers, not external ones (eg, the market, the government), as the primary obstacles to growth. In response, the authors have identified the following primary traits, called the Founder’s Mentality, as the formula for overcoming the usual barriers:
- The owner’s mindset: We must operate with a clear sense of purpose at all times.
- Front-line obsession: We must always focus on our customers’ wants and needs.
- Insurgency: We must avoid complexity and bureaucracy at all costs.
Note that these are not the typical top-down directives that saddle senior management with most of the responsibility for corporate change. To be effective, these traits must be adopted by every individual at all levels of an organization. Each employee must be persistently mindful of the connection between his/her deliverables and the customers. This is the simple but powerful seed from which a business can grow with health and endurance.
In employing the Founder’s Mentality, our company’s mission is clear: to improve the quality of life of patients through research, education, and medical media. I believe in this mission and in our associates, who fulfill it every day by delivering the highest-quality education and information to health care professionals and patients. Maintaining this focus and a positive work environment is key to ensuring we don’t fall victim to the barriers of growth. I hope you and your organization will join us in pursuing the Founder’s Mentality to grow personally and corporately, with the shared goal of improving our nation’s health.
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Thank you for reading!
Chairman and CEO
- Zook C, Allen J. Barriers and pathways to sustainable growth: harnessing the power of the founder's mentality. Bain & Company website. bain.com/publications/articles/founders-mentality-barriers-and-pathways-to-sustainable-growth.aspx. Accessed September 22, 2016.