Agents for Change, The Rise of the Intrepreneurial Organization

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The time for innovation is now. Image courtesy of Nick Schklair

With the withering of the U.S. economy, no amount of cheer-leading from the federal government or a political party of any stripe can graft a happy face onto the plight of U.S. business today.

Governmental regulations, politicians, and overzealous regulatory agencies are crushing the creative energies of the U.S. economy – resulting in the sequestering of literally trillions of dollars of potential investment capital both domestically and overseas.

In spite of this picture, business owners still have to conduct business, incur costs, and make profits. Letting capital rest fallow is certainly not a smart option when foreign competition, though staggering with their weak economies, still pushes forward into the U.S. economy.

Powering the Economy: Time is Running Out

The country can’t wait for the small, fleet-of-foot entrepreneurial start ups to power the economy. The time is too short and the aforementioned foreign competitive incursions will certainly continue.

There are four agents for change defining the issue of innovation: Personnel, corporate culture, technological base and funding.

  • Businesses can handle the human resource issue even without significant new hires.
  • With the right leadership, companies can bridge internal cultural obstacles.
  • Technology, whether product, industry or process-oriented must continue.
  • Businesses can accomplish investment funding even if development occurs overseas where the technological results, not the dollars, are repatriated.

A corporate call to arms is necessary and organizations must proceed, whether funds are parked off shore or not.

The Human Resource Factor

As stated in previous articles, the human element is the the most critical. Without the right people in place, the organization remains static. This starts at the top. The policies must obviously permit a certain degree of individualism within the corporate environment (perish the thought!). Nevertheless,  innovators in corporate organizations are different and typically march to a slightly different drum. They prize individuality, but must conform to the organizational constraints imposed by any corporation. Therefore, the manager in charge of such people, must permit a higher degree of latitude to innovators, which dictates that anyone managing intrepreneurs has to be different.

This manager and in fact, the senior executive at the top of the company must permit innovators, their managers and this part of the organization to “bend” rules and bring a higher degree of creativity into the company.  As stated in previous articles, such people can only operate freely when the culture permits it. Sometimes this is a tall order. This may be accomplished by “rooting out” and identifying the creative people and finding some way that they can utilize these qualities and creative impulses for the benefit of the organization and its stockholders.

Click to Read Page Two: Cultural Barriers to Intrepreneurship

Cultural Barriers to Intrepreneurship

horse and buggy

Horse and buggies  still solve a lot of problems, but mostly in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Adapted from the original image in the U.S. Library of Congress

Companies that are set in their ways eventually disappear from the scene. Normally, one expects to see technology companies leading the way to new products and technologies. However, does anyone remember Honeywell or Burroughs? They were once technologically-based companies and have either merged or disappeared from the scene altogether.

The point is… it’s not what a company makes or markets, it’s how the company embraces the future that determines whether or not it will survive. Certainly, one could say that those companies (and there are countess other examples) were entrepreneurial/intrepreneurial  at one time,  but something happened along the way.

Management complacency is one obvious cause, but when the entire culture of the enterprise becomes staid and set in its ways, then the corporation is doomed to irrelevancy, marketing products and solving nonexistent problems. One antidote to this situation is management change and a revitalization of the existing employee base.

Technology and the Organizational Base

When corporations view the tableau of their organizations, whether or not they are “technology companies” in the true sense of the word, they all have to (or should) adapt the culture and the organization to new vistas in technology, whether or not that technology is their main source of revenue generation. In the economy of 2013 and ultimately in 2014, sitting around with billions in idle funds waiting for changes in the corporate tax code is not a good approach.

Developments in new products must occur or the business starts, ever so slowly, to contract. Ray Anthony, writer and expert on innovation in organizations has stated that, “Innovation is the key ingredient for corporate growth. Employees throughout the organization must look for ways to innovatively solve customer problems. When corporation fail to innovate, they fail to grow and they fail their customers and their stockholders.”

Funding Investments

There are numerous ways to skirt or partially skirt double taxation on investment parked overseas. As stated above, the best way is to develop products overseas and import the resulting technological developments. Mid-sized companies with minimal foreign ties have also sidelined cash, as well. In fact, the entire economy, from an investment point of view seems to be in a time-out mode. This is economically unhealthy and underscores the need for intrepreneurialism. Whether or not American companies take heed, there is a very high certainty that overseas competition will garner ever greater pieces of market share in whatever industry they inhabit.

It may sound old fashioned and rather trite, but the U.S. economy is an agent for world change. The  blessings of the capitalist system and the free market must be restarted and reenergized in order to maintain the life style the population has enjoyed for so long. This can and should be jumpstarted by a renewed emphasis on intrepreneurship and innovation in all sectors of the domestic economy.

Resources

Dvorak, J. Whatever Happened to IBM and the Seven Dwarfs?  Dvorak Uncensored. Accessed October 1, 2013.

Linbaugh, K. Firms Keep Stockpiles of ‘Foreign’ Cash in U.S. (2013). The Wall Street Journal. Accessed October 1, 2013.

Davies, R. US Employers Sit on Huge Piles of Cash. (2013). ABC News. Accessed October 1, 2013.

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