In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king
Corporates and entrepreneurs: contrasting mind sets
The first two chapters show, by way of anecdotes, how the Industrial Age mind set conflicts with the mind set required for the Information Age. This difference in the way the world of business and commerce is viewed is very similar to the difference between the way in which corporate Industrial Age managers and executives think and the way entrepreneurs think. Both types of thinking are valid in their own domains but there seems little common ground for any understanding or compromise between them. Each see the world of business and commerce from quite different view points.
This makes for an intriguing situation because both corporate minds and entrepreneurial minds are both being applied to e-commerce. It raises some interesting questions. Are there some areas of e-commerce particularly suited to the corporate way and others more suited to the entrepreneurial way? Corporates and entrepreneurs are certain to be in competition with each other. What happens where one way is right and the other way is wrong? Which type of thinking, on balance, is the best? Or, can the two quite different modes of thought be reconciled?
Because the first two chapters were looking from the view point of the Information Age, many readers who have been exposed only to the ideas of the Industrial Age might feel confused, in disagreement or even outraged by the views expressed. But, isn't this to be expected? Isn't this the effect that all new paradigms have at first: when they conflict with established thinking? Different or conflicting ideas create paradoxes. Confusion reigns until the paradoxes are resolved.
We started out with an anomaly: corporations and established Industrial Age businesses aren't leading the way in e-commerce. They appear to be fumbling around in the dark, apparently no more competent than start up companies. Despite the brain power and the money available to them, established Industrial Age businesses seem, to be playing catch-up to smaller entrepreneurial enterprises.
Looking for clues, we might take into consideration that the Industrial Age corporate way is through tried and tested procedures and techniques. Conversely, an entrepreneur comes into his or her own in areas where past experience cannot be relied upon. Industrial Age corporates will apply their superior skills of planning and organisation to areas where it can be most effective, while entrepreneurs will consciously seek out the areas where planning and organisation is difficult or impossible to apply.
The big question is "What kind of areas are e-business and e-commerce" If they are more suited to the corporate way the entrepreneur will hold back because he or she will probably be disadvantaged. If they are more suited to the entrepreneurial way the corporates will hold back because they will find it more efficient to wait for entrepreneurs to succeed and then buy them out.
This isn't a cynical view point, it is the way corporate organisations and entrepreneurs in the Industrial Age have always complemented each other. It is often too costly for a large Industrial Age organisation to experiment in new and emerging markets. It is cheaper for them in the long run to let entrepreneurs fight it out between them and then buy out the winners. The entrepreneurs for their part rarely want to take a venture on to the stage of consolidation and are happy to take a large lump sum for their efforts.
For corporate managers and executives it is about succeeding in a career, where the rewards are in the form of security, power and a regular and reasonably certain income. For the entrepreneur it is an exciting game of risk and strategy, where the winners get big prizes and the losers get nothing. An interesting situation now arises in the Information Age when corporate managers and executives may have to adopt the strategies of the entrepreneur. How will these two previously separate paradigms merge?
Coming somewhere in between the extremes of the corporates and the entrepreneurs are the specialist service areas: the contractors, the subcontractors, the consultants and the myriad of difference service industries that form symbiotic relationships with the corporates and the entrepreneurs. These intermediates are hybrids, each with their own individual mix of corporate and entrepreneurial traits.
There is no way to specifically categorize these hybrids because they fill all parts of the spectrum between the classical Industrial Age corporation and the classical entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs can run their businesses with the same rigidity as Industrial Age corporations. Also, corporations, can have many entrepreneurial traits strategies. Large corporations can sometimes be dominated by a chairman or board of directors who think primarily with an entrepreneurial mind set, or, the corporations may have special units that are given funds and the authority to employ entrepreneurial strategies.
There are no definitive distinctions that apply universally. Distinctions made here are artificial: used simply to separate out practices and attitudes applicable in the traditional Industrial Age from the more flexible, pragmatic practices and attitudes that are going to be needed in the Information Age.