One of the activities that I have been involved in recently as a part of my work involves a major shift in strategy for the business that my company deals in. Although it is interesting to see how new things are unfolding and how life is going to change for all stakeholders of this new business sooner or later, what is more interesting is to observe the sheer inertia that governs the lives of people in any business. The resistance to change, in whatever format the change may be is so strong that it is difficult to envisage, forget execute something drastically different from what is already present.
This becomes all the more difficult for an organization that is process driven like the one that I was working for prior to my MBA. In such an organization, the resistance part probably comes in much later and it is actually the fact that everyone is so used to blindly following existing processes that creates the hurdle. This is where you need the element of entrepreneurship to get out of this situation and give a good shake-up to the existing setup.
Having said that, if you look at organizations that are truly entrepreneurial in nature, it still does not solve the problem at hand. This is where resistance to change comes in not because the process of doing things in a certain way is very well defined but because defining any process, even if it is another process to substitute the current one or even the process of change, is the difficult thing in its own right. The lack of processes and professionalism makes the task of change or setting up a new process appear insurmountable.
So what, you ask, is the solution? Professional entrepreneurism is the answer that the Vice Chairman of my company provides. He is bang on target as far as spelling the need for this attribute is concerned, whether that attribute is already there in his (and my) organization may be something completely different altogether. Not getting into anything politically complicated, let me just concentrate on this phrase that caught on with me during last evening's webcast organized post the quarterly results of the company.
The phrase Professional entrepreneurism is amazingly self-explanatory and simple but achieving this is equally difficult. In fact, I believe that an individual at his/her own level can never be a professional entrepreneur, he/she can either be professional or an entrepreneur. It is not that individuals do not understand the need for being both but it is right there in our internal psyche to take that much amount of risk, to attribute that much importance to going ahead at any cost, to be that much driven by routine and to be that much guided by gut or by science.
The point that I am trying to make here is that though individually very few of us (oh yes, there are exceptions that prove the rule!) are able to act professionally and yet be entrepreneurial in our beliefs and thoughts, it is with a higher degree of probability that this can be achieved collectively. The thought processes and actions that an organization is capable of getting into are very much different from what an individual can ever hope of achieving. Application of cold objectivity and rationalization comes much more easily to an organization than to an individual. An organization may decide to be nimble on its feet through the very nature of its non-maneuverability...as a firm, you can be rigid about being flexible and no one can question you on that.
This means that the answer does not lie in trying to change the employee into a professional entrepreneur but in making the organizational fabric very professional and very entrepreneurial. This can be done by making sure that there is a basic set of beliefs or guidelines that need to be followed whenever anything is to be done but these are just that, beliefs and guidelines, nothing very specific that can kill the thought process. There should be guidelines for everything, even to change guidelines but never any process that is deep frozen and does not provide any room to go out of the box. Personally, I don't know how much of it is easier said than done but what I am sure of is that the way to do it is only by attacking the collective core and that there is no way that you can change the basic human psyche and the way human mind is conditioned to think.
Posted at 08:44 pm by Nitai