Schlagwort-Archive: Entrepreneurship

Building blocks of a value-adding whole

Aristotle already had in his metaphysics, more than two thousand years ago, the right intuition – The whole is more than the sum of its parts. However, the Cartesian perspective has broken the world down into its components for centuries, thereby obscuring the look at the holistic possibilities. Despite the encouraging experiences of companies like 3M or W. L. Gore & Associates GmbH, large corporations struggle to rethink. Aligning collaboration based on the needs of the employees and creating a more fruitful whole through with the resulting engagement is the ultimate purpose. The inability to leverage these strengths can only be explained by the inertia of the responsible managers. They are unsure how it will go on for them when the bureaucratic regulations, permanent surveillance, and excessive news dissemination are no longer needed, and they become obsolete. The brave are already trying agility in various forms – agile enterprise, agile organization, agile employees, agile managers, agile culture, agile mindset, agile project management, and agile product development, simply agile hodgepodge.

The following building blocks promote productive wholeness.

  • Positive diversity
    In a VUKA world, the components found on different levels influence each other mutually. To react appropriately, i.e., to act at the right place and, above all, on time, other capabilities take center stage. Ashby’s law of required variety has clarified that the greater the variety of acts of a system controlling others, the better it can compensate for disturbances. This means that the remaining managers and employees must be more diverse in their traits, behavior, and means than the tasks and the competition. The difference is created by:
    –  a wider range of skills (e.g., besides technical, also social and systemic capabilities),
    –  an extra commitment of all,
    –  extended perseverance,
    –  the restriction to tasks that are needed,
    –  the interaction in the team, and
    –  a strong sense of responsibility.
    The losers are all those who continue to worship lockstep and only add skills that already exist in the company.
  • Leadership style without leadership
    The new style replaces leadership with fostering. The most significant burden for a company is a legacy structure, whose decision-making and reporting paths are unnecessarily long, diluting resolutions and slowing the speed. Leaving the choice to employees at the point of action creates a momentum that the usual leadership cannot match. At the same time, the open work style provides employees with a common direction and security. Influence then no longer comes from a formally established position but trust and contagious enthusiasm.
  • Entrepreneurs in the company
    The days of economic officialdom are coming to an end. The new understanding of leadership works through entrepreneurial action. The employees can no longer pull back from solving a given task but must behave like they owned the company. They have, as a result, more risks. On the one hand, a large company offers the danger of unintentional mishaps and losses, but on the other hand, these are more than offset by surprising gains. Even if individual units can fulfill their tasks more flexibly, the whole remains a large fleet that works together because of its joint alignment.
  • The energy is in each personality
    Everything that happens originates in the minds of individual employees. If the human image of the Theory Y is adopted by the leaders, they can bring their experiences and abilities to effect. Together, they experience adventures that expand their mental models with new insights. With a shared vision, ideas emerge that are no longer predetermined but are jointly elaborated and move the company forward. Combined with the personal drive fueled by shared momentum, the fitness evolves that secures the business.

Bottom line: It is not a question of the size of your company whether it has to take care of the new leadership beyond agility, but when. Change is happening no matter what. And if you are already suffering from the feeling that you should be taking more care of your employees, or that cost pressure is melting your margins, or that the economic climate is threatening you, then the right moment has come to act. Should you have done it earlier? This question is useless because you cannot turn back time. The positive diversity, the leadership style without leadership, the entrepreneurs in the company, and the use of the existing personalities are building blocks that already take you extremely far. You only need to activate your most vital advantage now – namely the whole that is jointly generated with everybody and brings more than the tayloristic waste through the old-fashioned bureaucracy.

Entrepreneurship in lockstep

Are these the rules of the certifications or the artificially created Compliance, which increasingly burden entrepreneurial action nowadays? Or are these potentially the employees on all levels that prove patience, do not offend and realize slowly the Peter’s principle? Stimuli for new approaches should be delivered by science, consultants or best-practice. However, they introduce again and again the same for all. State-of-the-art software generates ever more similar cars for automakers. The same target groups are provided by a few, specialized agencies. Ready-made ERP systems lead to more and more similar procedures. Despite the continuous outcomes, certified project managers are still preferred instead of capable leader personalities. Entrepreneurs reuse the business models that are already established in the market, in order to make nothing wrong. The outsourcing caravan follows the swarm – first China, then India, now Africa. Is this not entrepreneurship in lockstep?


Today, it would be difficult for Henry Ford to realize his ideas – too much national regimentation, exuberant bureaucracy, actively obstructing interest groups. The Ford Model T, that was available in any color, as long as it was black, would not receive MOT approval. Cartel authorities would nip any bundling of enterprises in the bud. Innovative ideas must be promptly published in the interest of the shareholder protection. Today’s managers are not able to act entrepreneurially, even if they wanted. After years of standardization, the responsible people know behind which arguments to hide.

  • Cobbler, stick to your trade
    An obviously pragmatic approach is the focus on the core business. The actual tasks that contribute at most to the corporate success or that the customers associate especially with the enterprise constitute the relevant business. This you can see at the production depth. While Ford reached in the beginning nearly 100% creation of value, the production depth in the automotive area sank until today on average to 20%. Thus, the cars are actually developed and manufactured by the suppliers. With this division of labor, the enterprises gave up their originally comprehensive power. Eventually this affects even the innovative ness that is handed over to the suppliers. That way the shoemaker degenerates to a 20-percent nerd, who only sews the shoes, pack them into a box and place them on the market. On a long-term basis other specialists can even do it better. With the last 20% then the enterprise will also dissolve.
  • Who does, what everybody is doing, remains everybody
    The new swarm approaches suggest that you can use the knowledge of others without expenditure. Since many enterprises have already sold their silver in the interest of the shareholder values, shifted jobs abroad by outsourcing and have reduced over the years personnel, the knowledge of the remaining employees is the last asset that can be exploited. With the strategy of swarm intelligence one or the other got the idea to open these economical resources. Customers and employees are invited to express their ideas. This is not about growing knowledge, but siphoning off the existing ideas. What is forgotten here is the fact that swarm intelligence creates highly redundant knowledge. It still must be separated entrepreneurially the useful from the noise. Goethe already wrote: “And here, poor fool, I stand once more, No wiser than I was before.” Additionally this this source of knowledge offers also the other companies similar insights. You will not be ahead of the pack, but you will fall in the same black hole of disadvantages. And what is above all difficult: The competitors remain abreast, since they foster each other.
  • He who follows in the footsteps of others, never leaves a footprint of his own
    The advocates of standard solutions expect savings by distributing the costs on multiple shoulders. At the end of the last millennium the tsunami of today’s standard software built up. In the companies a clew of self-developments had been formed over time that could be maintained only with difficulties by own means. In the meantime the clew is back again, only that it is now knotted by the software makers. And again egalitarian approaches prevent the advantage that you could obtain by your own engagement. If you look at simple applications, like HR-systems, the solutions only differ in the logo. After the initial upside of the ERP system is already past, we notice meanwhile more and more, in what expensive hole we landed. The software provider determines, when, which release to be used – with all consequences for the internal interfaces. The Gordian knot becomes even tighter. Who can now afford the development or introduction of another solution? And what is especially harmful – nobody is ready for entrepreneurial improvisations. The manager is safe, since the decision for the standard solution is the right decision, because everybody uses it.

The whole thing reminds of socialist countries with their business thinking – always the same, no risk, not being noticeable, not harming the community, sticking to the rules etc. You can see this in nowadays Compliance. You always had to adhere to the laws, but however now many practice anticipatory obedience. After all the consequences of courageous acting are no longer clear. It is the same as with the bonsai method that was published in the 90s – nip any sprouting engagement in the bud.

Bottom line: Today’s entrepreneurs resemble a company of soldiers, who drill in the yard. No one quits the generally accepted way and give something new a chance. They forget thereby that this adaptive behavior would not be possible without the spirit of innovation of the previous founding fathers and pioneers, who made the current enterprises. In the established enterprises wild ducks, who would be able to create something new, have only little elbow space in order to make an impact. For making sure that nobody recognizes it, the leaders hide behind the core business, the swarm approaches and generally accepted solutions. This is entrepreneurship in lockstep.