Chris Zook: Founder's Mentality®—Insurgency

Insurgent companies are defined by a special mission and a clear focus that motivates and inspires employees. But as they grow, these companies risk losing the traits that made them insurgents in the first place, making them vulnerable to the next wave of fast-moving, inspired insurgents. Chris Zook, coauthor of The Founder's Mentality, discusses the three elements that define insurgency and the importance of recapturing insurgency if companies have lost it.

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CHRIS ZOOK: Founder's Mentality®, we found to be the best measure we know of the health of a business and its ability to sustain itself, keep its energy up and remain innovative. And it consists of three things: one, a sense of insurgency; two, a frontline obsession; and three, what we called an "owner's mindset."

So let's just focus, for a moment, on sense of insurgency. Insurgency is about having a special mission and a clear purpose that motivates and inspires employees. It requires three things: a long-term perspective, something unique that makes you special and an elevated or higher mission. Companies that lose their insurgency lose their energy. They lose their focus. They lose their ability to inspire. And they run the risk of becoming "just another company."

Companies that fail to maintain their sense of insurgency become extremely vulnerable to the next wave of fast-moving, inspired insurgents. For the book, The Founder's Mentality, we looked at many examples of companies, larger companies, that lost it and were able to renew themselves. And we found at the epicenter of those that were able to do this was a return and a recapturing—a renewal—of their sense of insurgency, and frankly, of their soul.

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