Founder's Mentality℠: The paths to Great Repeatable Models®

Founder's Mentality℠: The paths to Great Repeatable Models®

How fast-growing companies can capture the benefits of scale and scope by maintaining a Founder’s Mentality℠.

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Founder's Mentality℠: The paths to Great Repeatable Models®

Most fast-growing companies aim to do more than simply increase revenue year after year; they aspire to global leadership in their industries. That kind of success requires sustainable growth: As the company’s revenues and customers grow, so must its capabilities. These companies often start as insurgents, led by ambitious entrepreneurial founders who break the rules. They are fast, agile and adaptable. They thrive on a unique understanding of their customers and their local markets. They hate complexity and work tirelessly to keep their organizations and offerings simple. But they also know that to win in the long term they need the cost advantages and broader scope of global incumbents. And, in too many cases, they eventually accept a troubling trade-off: In achieving scale, they lose what we call the Founder’s MentalitySM—the very core strengths and values that helped these insurgents succeed against the odds.

That isn’t surprising. The history of most successful Western businesses has been to move in a straight line, from insurgent to incumbent. And often, that’s where the growth story ends (see Figure 1). Having misplaced their innate bias for simplicity, they now pile on complexity in an increasingly futile effort to reignite growth.

For leaders of these large incumbent companies, the real dilemma is how to revive their original Founder’s Mentality before the burdens of size and complexity drag them down. Leaders of insurgents, meanwhile, are searching for a different road to growth—one that rejects the so-called best practices of the incumbents, yet still delivers global scale.

It is possible. Companies stepping onto the global stage can resist the natural forces pushing them off course. Multinational corporations that have succumbed to those forces can regain their way—on their own or through creative partnerships with insurgents. It’s not easy, but as we show in our book Repeatability, the tools they need already exist inside their own companies. For CEOs, the question is: Which path to a Great Repeatable Model is my company on?

Bain’s Developing Market 100 (DM100) initiative—a close partnership with leading developing market companies—and our research on Repeatable Models® provide insights into how companies can maintain a Founder’s Mentality as they grow.

Great Repeatable Models® and Founder's MentalitySM are trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc.

Repeatable Models® is a registered trademark of Bain & Company, Inc.

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