Theory E²: Working with Entrepreneurs in Closely-Held Enterprises–VII. The Thoughtful Entrepreneur
Many difficult problems can be reframed as incentives or goals, so that people are motivated to try harder or create something new and innovative. Alternatively, the problem can be framed as a symptom of some much deeper issues. Perhaps the organization should quit providing this particular service or manufacturing this particular product. What if we quit serving this troublesome customer and looked elsewhere for a more appropriate clientele?
Thoughtful entrepreneurs also realize that it is very difficult in complex and often fragmented situations for any one person to have all the information or knowledge about the closely-held enterprise. Information and knowledge tend to be dispersed, leading the thoughtful executive to focus on asking the questions and helping to identify appropriate sources for receiving valid and useful information upon which responsible answers can be based.
The thoughtful entrepreneur often assumes the role of teacher. He may also define himself as a co-learner with other members of the organization, given that the lessons learned today may not be applicable tomorrow. In his role as learner, the thoughtful executive tends to emphasize reflection on one’s own practices, as well as openness to alternative interpretations and perspectives regarding complex and recurring problems. In order to make progress in solving these recurring problems, “the task of executive functioning consists of choreographing and directing learning processes in an organization or community.”
Inappropriate Uses of Strengths
The thoughtful entrepreneur is often criticized for never going beyond data gathering and analysis. The assertive executive is particularly inclined to be critical of the role played by thoughtful executives in slowing things down and often keeping the closely-held enterprise from taking any risks. Assertive executives suggest that the organization can best learn by doing and that most of the information is only speculative at best.
Sometimes the thoughtful entrepreneur is also criticized (usually by the inspiring entrepreneur) for seeming to be insensitive. Just as the assertive entrepreneur may fail to take into account human needs and feelings when moving an organization to action, so may the thoughtful entrepreneur fail to take into account the human factor when exclusively focusing on facts and figures.