Theory E²: Working with Entrepreneurs in Closely-Held Enterprises IX: Interplay Between Entrepreneurs and Maturity, Tasks, Problems and Environment
The fourth type of task requires that a new and highly distinctive product or service be created for each customer. It is often performed in closely-held enterprises. Enterprises that produce motion pictures, television programs or other creative products are primarily in the business of specialized production, as are most research and development departments and many consulting firms (unless they offer pre-packaged training or assessment programs, which involve unit production). Marketing departments must frequently start over again in designing new campaigns, while many of the new high-tech firms allow a customer to personally design and order highly distinctive products through use of a computer that directly links the customer to production lines.
The thoughtful leader is often particularly valuable in insuring that specialized production is meeting customer specifications. While vision and values may help to provide overall inspiration for this type of organization, they offer little in the way of tangible assistance, given that each product is created from scratch in a whole new way. Usually the thoughtful leader will provide substantial freedom and autonomy to creative employees who must repeatedly provide innovative and distinctive services and products. Assertive and participating modes of entrepreneurship are least appropriate in this type of organization, given the need for autonomy and freedom of expression.
Nature of Problems Being Faced
Closely-held enterprises face many different kinds of problems and often need different approaches to entrepreneurship in facing these problems. Heifetz suggests that there are three types of problems, each with its own focus and each demanding a different kind of reflective process.