The Founder's Mentality

American Veterinarian®December 2017
Volume 2
Issue 4

They say the following challenges increase with an organization’s size and complexity.

If you've ever had the privilege of working for a growing practice, you know how challenging it can be. Chris Zook and James Allen,1 authors of The Founder’s Mentality, note that growth creates complexity, which can thwart 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 ensuring 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 these 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 or 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, the mission of American Veterinarian® is clear: to positively in uence the way veterinarians practice medicine by providing wide-ranging news and information designed to improve patient outcomes. I believe in this mission and in our associates, who fulfill it every day by delivering the highest-quality education and information to veterinary professionals throughout the country. Maintaining this focus and a positive work environment is key to ensuring we don’t fall victim to the barriers of growth.

Our wide-ranging conference coverage in this issue is a testament to our clear sense of purpose and the lengths we’re willing to go to provide practical and timely information in all areas of practice. For this issue, we mobilized our resources to cover conferences from Indianapolis to Nashville to New York. Veterinary medicine is ever advancing, and we know that information from experts is useful to you in daily practice. You can find additional coverage of 12 of the industry’s most important meetings, conferences, and conventions from 2017 on our website:

To help you stay up-to-date on hot topics and new research, this month we’re launching a new column in the magazine. Disease State Watch describes the latest research findings in a single topic area. In this issue we focus on new treatments for common orthopedic conditions, including cruciate ligament injury, hip dysplasia, and osteoarthritis.

I hope you and your practice will join us in pursuing the Founder’s Mentality to grow personally and corporately, with the shared goal of improving the health of our nation’s pets.

Wishing you and your families a wonderful and prosperous 2018. Thank you for reading!

Mike Hennessy, Sr

Chairman and CEO


  • Zook C, Allen J. The Founder’s Mentality: How to Overcome the Predictable Crises of Growth. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press; 2016.
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