Chris Zook discussed his book, The Founder’s Mentality: How to Overcome the Predictable Crises of Growth, at MOI Global’s Meet-the-Author Summer Forum 2019. Chris is a partner at Bain & Company and has been co-head of the firm’s Global Strategy practice for twenty years.
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About the book:
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.
About the author:
Chris Zook is an advisory partner in Bain & Company’s Boston office. He was coleader of the Global Strategy practice for 20 years. During his more than 25 years at Bain, Chris has specialized in helping companies find new sources of profitable growth.
A best-selling author, Chris published his fifth book, The Founder’s Mentality (Harvard Business Review Press) in 2016. Based on a decade-long study of companies in more than 40 countries, The Founder’s Mentality shows how leaders can overcome the predictable crises of growth and set their companies on a path of sustainable growth.
Chris has authored numerous additional books with Harvard Business Review Press, including Repeatability: Build Enduring Businesses for a World of Constant Change (2012), an argument for simple, great repeatable models to realize enduring, profitable growth. In 2010, he published Profit from the Core: A Return to Growth in Turbulent Times, an updated edition of his 2001 best-selling business book, Profit from the Core: Growth Strategy in an Era of Turbulence, which offers an approach to assessing and making the most of core business opportunities. Chris’s sequel, Beyond the Core: Expand your Market without Abandoning your Roots (2004) examines how companies that have fully exploited their core businesses can systematically and successfully expand into related, or “adjacent” areas. Unstoppable: Finding Hidden Assets to Renew the Core and Fuel Profitable Growth (2007) completes the series and examines what to do when your growth formula of the past begins to approach its limits, demanding that your company change its strategic focus and redefine its core.
These “growth trilogy” books have received widespread critical support. Beyond the Core was recognized by The Economist as one of the top five business and economic books in the year it was published, and it was also voted one of the top 100 business books ever written. Unstoppable was identified by The Financial Times as one of the notable business books of the year. Based on his work on how companies grow, Chris was included by the Times of London in its biannual list of the 50 Most Influential Global Business Thinkers. He has written dozens of articles with Harvard Business Review Press and other business publications, such as The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The New York Times, Fortune, Forbes and BusinessWeek.
Chris has been a featured broadcast guest, including NPR, CNBC, Fox News and Bloomberg TV. He has been a keynote speaker at a wide range of international and business forums including the World Economic Forum, the World Knowledge Forum, the Forbes’ CEO Conference, the BusinessWeek CEO Conference, the Economist Summit and Endeavour’s entrepreneur summits. In the last five years, he has done over 500 talks and workshops across more than 35 different countries.
He received a bachelor of arts in mathematics and economics from Williams College, an M.Phil. in economics from Exeter College, Oxford University, and earned master’s and doctorate degrees from Harvard University.