Growth creates complexity and complexity kills growth. Nearly all fast-growing companies drift toward bureaucracy, losing the ability to capture the benefits of size and act with speed. But micro-battles can help companies rediscover the art of getting stuff done fast. The discrete, time-boxed initiatives rapidly bring strategic choices to action and formulate ways to scale the results. Through micro-battles, companies develop the leading, learning and scaling behaviors needed to revive insurgency and achieve sustainable, profitable growth.
Learn more about the Bain Micro-battles SystemSM, step by step.
The ultimate goal of micro-battles is to teach your organization to act like a scale insurgent. Because of this, each micro-battle should look like a microcosm of the organization you want to become. This demands a system to maximize learning, focusing on the behaviors of your organization.
We’ve identified a list of core activities to help companies put the micro-battles system in motion, and we’ve organized these insights into a series of blogs. Whether you're new to micro-battles, or starting to embed the system into your regular ways of working, you can find lessons on your stage of the journey.
The micro-battles journey has four stages (explore the tabs to learn more):
Create the ambition: Stage 1 is about creating the ambition to be the scale insurgent in your industry and making the case for change internally.
Launch Win-Scale: Stage 2 is about launching the first wave of micro-battles and learning the critical skills of winning and scaling.
Amplify Results: Stage 3 is about the role your senior team plays in managing the portfolio of micro-battles and amplifying their results.
Embed micro-battles: Stage 4 is about embedding micro-battles into the day-to-day operations of your company.
In addition, as you launch micro-battles, it's important to consider the actions senior leaders need to take (The Role of the CEO). For a deeper dive, learn more about the six building blocks of scale insurgency (Achieve Scale Insurgency).
But you also know you can’t retreat to some mythical past where you can still be a small insurgent start-up. Instead, you must become the scale insurgent in your industry. You must be big and nimble. You must capture the benefits of your size and rediscover your sense of Founder’s Mentality.
Six blogs can get you started on your journey to become a scale insurgent:
In the second stage of micro-battles, your goal is to get started. It's time to mobilize micro-battle teams, or as we call them, the Win-Scale teams. These are the teams that will become masters of winning and scaling—the key capabilities of a scale insurgent.
Learn more about how to build and deploy micro-battle teams:
By Stage 3, you’ve successfully launched a couple of micro-battles, and you’re preparing for review sessions. At this point, you need to think about a second team—the Amplify team, or your senior leadership team. This is the team that reviews individual micro-battles and manages the portfolio of micro-battles.
In the final stage, you’ve successfully launched your first wave of micro-battles, and you’re ready to expand to a full portfolio. At this point, micro-battles have become part of your company’s ways of working. This has several implications. As you embed micro-battles into your daily routines, you’ll begin to fundamentally challenge your operating model. Most importantly, you’ll relearn the critical insurgent skill of building new businesses for future growth.
Take a closer look at how leading companies embed micro-battles to build new businesses:
Throughout the first three stages of micro-battles, companies also need to consider the role of the CEO. Why? Because in addition to learning the basics of micro-battles, the CEO will need to make constant adjustments to keep micro-battles on track. These aren’t adjustments that happen automatically in the formal review meetings. These are all the actions the CEO takes outside of these meetings.
Learn more about two of the most critical actions:
Micro-battles are a critical step in your ambition to be the scale insurgent in your industry. If micro-battles are the "how" of scale insurgency, then the six building blocks are the "what." By pursuing the most relevant building blocks through micro-battles, you can redefine your company for future growth.