“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Alan Kay
Can all people think like an entrepreneur?
One of the problems I have seen is some organizations, typically those with lots of procedures and policies, have trained the creativity out of the people. I do not think it is on purpose, but due to their structure. What I think will happen in a big policy system - the more idiot-proof the syste
m, the more people will act like idiots. In other words, we need people who can think and act on their own and here is
why entrepreneurial thinking can help.
If you want an organization that can grow, has a learning culture and has a purpose, then unleash the creativity and innovation that people have.
Entrepreneurs are a very important aspect of the economic growth of the world. We create jobs, opportunities and if we are good enough, wealth for our teams and the society.
Management researcher Sara Sarasvathy has studied entrepreneurs and one of her key findings was that we do exactly the opposite of what is taught in most management courses and business schools. My schooling ended at 9th grade, but what I remember, I will second that. I have seen that same characteristic with other entrepreneurs in my network.
In a traditional management model, you would develop an idea and then pitch the idea to investors so that you can make the idea a reality. Very similar to asking your mom and dad for money instead of getting a job and earning the money yourself. Entrepreneurs hate asking mom and dad for money!
What entrepreneurs focus on are the capabilities they have and what is needed that they do not have. So what could I do in the world that is under my control? You will focus on what the means are, what is the possible goal and finally, what can I afford to lose.
The research of Sarasvathy is summarized to what she calls “the entrepreneurial method”:
- Expert entrepreneurs do not start with predictions. They start with what they care about, what they know, and who they know. They initiate a process of learning by interacting with people, showing them prototypes/ideas, and asking them questions.
- As they interact with people, they seek commitment. Some of the people will be interested enough in the idea to get involved – either joining the project or committing resources to it in some way.
- As people get involved, the project gains momentum, new capabilities, and new people who have goals of their own. The entrepreneur will adjust the goals of the project based on the new people and their goals and capabilities.
- As resources accumulate, this constellation of capabilities and goals begins to coalesce into a working model, and possibly a new and innovative offering.
Entrepreneurs focus on things within their direct control and try to make things happen!
Is there a downside for entrepreneurs? Indeed there are. Entrepreneurs can be intimidating, fast moving, doing things that is opposite the expected, etc... Sometimes, other people can feel helpless, not smart enough or visionary enough to pull it off. Especially if the entrepreneur is also very competitive. We have all heard stories about Gates and Jobs, they were not always easy to work with, but they move the needle and did things that other people didn’t think were possible.
I believe everyone can be an entrepreneur. There aren't characteristics you need to possess necessarily from the day you were born. If you start looking at the world in the way described above and follow the method, then you also can take a shot at it. And for my ENAVATE team members, please take this as an invitation to think like an entrepreneur within the organization. Remember, innovation is a core value. We can all do it!
To summarize: Work with what you have, seek commitments from others, evolve goals from individual to mutual, grow and gain momentum.
If you fail, move on and try again.
About the Author - Thomas Ajspur
Thomas is a seasoned entrepreneur who began working with Microsoft Dynamics 25 years ago as an ERP user and implementer, and then utilized it as the system to run his own business. In 1999, Thomas joined the Microsoft Dynamics Professional Services industry with a focus on building ERP high performance organizations in Europe and the US and is known in the industry for selling large international AX deals. He is CEO of ENAVATE Holdings, LLC.