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LESSON THREE

Decentralize: When Building a Global Empire, Every Market Is Local

Every tub on its own bottom.

—JOHN BUNYAN,in Pilgrim’s Progress, 1678

IDG’s success was built on a long list of innovative achievements, but the company became known and admired for Pat McGovern’s singular devotion to a radical decentralized management structure.

From its earliest efforts to expand into new markets and new geographies, IDG followed a strict formula that gave nearly autonomous control to each business unit, regardless of where it was located. The power lay in the hands of each business unit manager or country manager who could operate independently as long as the managers made their numbers. The lean headquarters staff would remain at a distance, ...

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