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In these times of coronavirus epidemic, I have the opportunity to talk to people from very different backgrounds (emergency doctors, researchers, self-employed people, entrepreneurs, retirees, business leaders, etc.) to understand how they “live” the current crisis both personally and professionally. From these discussions, I can draw three courses of action that a CEO can usefully adopt in the face of the extreme and unprecedented situation we are experiencing. Continue reading
How do entrepreneurs manage risk? A persistent and widely shared belief is that entrepreneurs are risk seekers; that they like taking risk. Ask anyone in the street or in a classroom, and they will tell you, “An entrepreneur is someone who is courageous, who likes to take risks.” But nothing could be further from the truth. Entrepreneurs don’t like risk; no study has ever shown that. What studies show is that while entrepreneurs are willing to take risks, because they recognize that it is necessary, they try to control them. To do that, they use three principles that are at the core of the entrepreneurial theory called effectuation, proposed twenty years ago by Darden professor Saras Sarasvathy.
It is decided, the theme of your next company convention will be “All entrepreneurs!” You’ll talk about Google, Tesla, Facebook, plus a Chinese champion for good measure. The manager of your Lab in San Francisco will come to talk about the latest local innovations. You will show a film that will explain “the six qualities of a good entrepreneur” with rock opera music. After a closing speech by the leader who, in essence, will say that it is only a matter of courage, the roadmap will be clear.
Overwhelmed by stories of fundraising, pitches, startups, incubators and the frenzy of hackathons, we often forget that the vast majority of the entrepreneurial phenomenon is in fact fairly mundane and banal. Well banal, in a way. Let’s say that the heroism of some entrepreneurs is far from the kind we hear and read all the time in the media. Nothing illustrates this better than the story of Madame Tao, which seems to have come out of a fairy tale.
In 1934, a visionary General De Gaulle explained how the massive use of tanks in time of war could give a decisive advantage. The tanks were known since the First World War, but they were only used as reinforcement of the infantry. De Gaulle proposed to revise this conception completely and place it at the center of the military effort. He was not listened to except by the German general Guderian who put this idea into practice successfully a few years later … against France.
The same is true for the transformation of organizations: the importance of integrating entrepreneurs has long been recognized and organizations have made efforts in this direction, but only in order to become more entrepreneurial. It is this conception that must be revisited: entrepreneurs should not just come to reinforce the existing management, but contribute to transform it by their principles of action. Let’s see how.
The entrepreneurial theory of effectuation was developed fifteen years ago, but it is only beginning to gain visibility outside academic circles. And it is all the better because it changes our way of seeing how entrepreneurs think and act in their creative process. Let’s review this in detail.
I have just published an article on the Global Peter Drucker Forum‘s blog, at which I will be a panel member, titled: “The 5 principles on which we can create an entrepreneurial society”. It can be accessed here.
The Forum’s program is available here.