To avoid the drift from fast-growing insurgent to stagnating (or declining) incumbent, companies must avoid these four traps, says James Allen of Bain & Company:
1. Unscalable founders. Some founders simply have their limits: They can get a company through the first couple of stages of growth, but no further. They don't know their weaknesses, or understand the real reasons for their company's success, and they want to make every decision rather than cede control as the company outgrows what any one person can manage.
2. Lost voices. Actual customer feedback morphs into a vague "average customer," and frontline employees can't be heard by senior execs because too many layers intervene.
3. Hasty hiring. You want revenue to increase faster than head count, but a delay in staffing up often leads to a hurried hiring of second-rate talent who lack commitment to the mission.
4. Poor accountability. Bureaucracy breeds undisciplined spending and managers begin to look for opportunistic expansion instead of reinvesting in the core business.