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The Accelerator Mindset

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In This Article
  • In both China and India, business leaders are creating multifaceted companies with broad operations and astounding growth targets.
  • As these leaders take their companies global, they are taking their mindset with them—and it could be their most enduring export.
  • Does your company’s management team have an accelerator mindset?
  • Have you done enough to prepare for the boom in consumer spending in China and India—a projected $10 trillion in 2020?




Ever since Frederick Taylor’s early writing on industrial efficiency—followed by the work of Peter Drucker, Alfred Chandler, and others—the modern Western corporation has been managed according to a tightly defined set of rules and norms. A clear corporate strategy calls for earning at least the cost of capital, growing at a higher rate than the overall market, and managing the portfolio to a “logic”—periodically pruning poorly performing businesses. And with Wall Street analysts ready to applaud CEOs for making their numbers or pulverize them for a one cent per share miss, there is often little opportunity to change course.

The $10 Trillion Prize

A series of Perspectives looks at what the growth of consumer spending in China and India means for business and society.

But speak to entrepreneurs in China and India, and you’ll soon hear that they think about strategy in a strikingly different way. For instance, these leaders have recognized that traditional return-on-investment calculations are not very relevant. This is because all the value sits in the terminal value of the company—given the massive growth. They believe that when growth is this dynamic you need to be faster, more creative, and more willing to learn as you go. For them, value creation derives from confidence and comfort with ambiguity, backed up by investment, talent, and fast cycles—and not from preprogrammed business plans and projections to two decimal places.

Ambitious, audacious, adaptive, aggressive when necessary—these business leaders have what we call the accelerator mindset.

You can get a sense of the accelerator mindset by watching a two-minute video on YouTube that shows a fifteen-story hotel in China being constructed in a few days using prefabricated parts. It is an astonishing spectacle. But there are many business leaders who are carrying out such feats: creating multifaceted companies with broad operations and astounding growth targets. With their fast-forward approach to business, they are turning what can seem like colossal dreams into reality, and in so doing, transforming the world economy.

Already, many of these leaders are taking their companies global—and they are taking their mindset with them, too. We think that it could be their most enduring export.

This Perspective is based on material from the authors’ book, The $10 Trillion Prize: Captivating the Newly Affluent in China and India, published by Harvard Business Review Press in October 2012.