Volume 11, Number 10
Spirit of Entrepreneurship
Turner is Director of Entrepreneurial Leadership at the Theseus
International Management Institute (www.colinturner.com). He
is author of Lead to Succeed: Creating Entrepreneurial
New York, 2002).
are we in business? What
are the reasons organizations are founded?
Which motivations cause some to become great while others
less so? How is it
that some are successful despite poor planning, when others with
good strategy are mediocre?
of whether we are aware of it, all of us share a primary yearning
to know that we count for something.
Each of us has a need to feel part of a worthwhile cause,
to have a sense of purpose that gives our life and what we do
meaning. When life
lacks meaning, or direction, our frustrations drive us more that
our aspirations are able to motivate us.
We may recognize the importance of knowing what our core
values and beliefs are. But
do we really live by them? Are
we too busy making the right moves to be guided by what motivates
are organizations? They
start out as legal documents.
What makes them live and breathe are the people who first
create them. Such
people are not necessarily born leaders; have had great ideas;
want to empire build; or make a fortune.
They are ordinary people that are motivated by a purpose.
makes an organization grow is when it adheres to the original
philosophy that lies behind its fundamental reason for existence.
If follows that the purpose of an organization is to
realize its potential. And
the realizing of its potential lies in the strength of its
strategies may adapt accordingly with evolving market conditions,
when purpose and core values prevail, the organization remains a
great place to work and something people are proud to be a part
may sound ideological, yet it is exactly how the lasting and
really successful organizations of the past were built.
If we take the view that the best motive for growing an
organization is to develop what it stands for, it changes our
perspective on why we are in business and why we have
have chosen the titles of warriors and worriers to make the
distinction between the entrepreneurial-minded and the
Because it is ultimately people’s beliefs,
characteristics and thinking that make the difference in an
organizational culture. How
they think and act reflects the organization.
purpose of an organization is to benefit people and improve
society,” said an unwell, uneducated, unknown and unlikely
warrior who created the world’s biggest organization, helped his
country’s economic prosperity, started management practices now
embraced by global organizations, donated huge fortunes to worthy
causes, and served hundreds of millions of customers with
innovative products that improved the quality of life.
This manager, Konosuke Matsushita, had a short and simple
message to his organization, “Think like an entrepreneur, not a
as an entrepreneur, believed that the mission of management lay in
satisfying human instinct for improving the quality of life.
Founding household names including Panasonic, Technics and
National, the Matsushita Electric organization of Japan created an
entrepreneurial climate that was conducive to seeking opportunity,
advancing innovation, developing leadership and giving service.
Strength of Purpose
to other great success stories that dramatically influenced the 20th
century such as Ford, Citicorp, Sony and Pfizer, to name a few
from different industries, none achieved success in a continuously
upward direction. All
experienced peaks and troughs.
It was the volatile early part of that century that honed
the entrepreneurial climate and characteristics that made them
winning organizations. With the continuing economic globalization, emerging
competitive markets and increasing customer expectations, the next
few decades will be no less volatile, though with different
conditions and challenges. To
ignore such a view is tantamount to a refusal to acknowledge the
fact that history repeats itself.
In the speed of thought economy over the next 50 years,
customer is king and best practice will be measured by deed, not
organizations that do not move with agility will fall over
leaders who do not develop others will have no followers.
The leaders who do not develop
others will have no followers.
The executive who does not think like an entrepreneur will
lose. The real
winners will serve their businesses, clients, customers and
communities while living the core values of the organization that
they have chosen to be part of. Like the warriors of economic
history, he or she will be willing to fight for a worthwhile
purpose greater than themselves.
Credo and Spirit Versus Re-Engineering
is, and will remain, the great modern arena for individuals to
express their vocation and develop their potential.
Strengths and talents will always be best cultivated in the
framework of a worthwhile organizational purpose.
Ideally, when a company starts out it focuses on what
it’s about, where it wants to go, how will it get there and what
it needs to do so. It
utilizes its strengths and talents to grow without concern about
this ideal scenario is not always the case.
J. Willard Marriott did not set out to go into the hotel
business. He had a
desire to go into business but as to which type he had no idea.
Messrs. Hewlett and Packard started a company the purpose
of which was to develop anything that people would buy, even an
electric shock machine to induce weight loss.
The founder of Nordstrom started a shoe shop for something
even though their founders are no longer around, these
organizations lead their industries.
Critically, however, all three have core ideologies that
are set in stone. Would
the companies be where they are without the evolution of a credo
to guide them? Maybe.
Certainly they would not have developed the heights of
influence that they did. But,
more importantly, would they have ever come into being without the
spirit of entrepreneurship? The
answer is no. Ask yourself. Would
any of the organizations that you have been involved with have
come to life without the existence, or influence of, an
spirit, or courage when coupled together with a credo, or raison
d’etre, seems to be the vital ingredient that is fundamental to
building great organizations, partnerships and institutions that
last. The reality,
however, for most established organizations is that such spirit or
credo is ignored particularly when times are good.
An impending crisis may cause a revisit to them, in the
same way that all of us silently call for guidance when our world
seems to be falling in, but usually crises are passed to legal
Perrier’s bottled water was tampered with, they did not take the
same action that the medical organization Johnson & Johnson
took when they met with a similar crisis.
Guided by their ‘set in stone credo,” that begins with:
“our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses,
hospitals, mothers and all others who use our products”
immediately they knew of the threat that cyanide had been
introduced to one of their products, Tylenol, Johnson &
Johnson responded decisively.
The threat seemed isolated to one city; however, since the
product was available throughout the U.S., they removed all of it,
at an estimated cost of $100 million.
At the same time, they mounted a mammoth communication
program to advice the public.
Public confidence in Johnson & Johnson never even
faltered; moreover, it was strengthened as the public viewed the
organization as one that always protected them, regardless of
Johnson & Johnson clearly responded, Perrier reacted.
Though the threat related to a foreign body in the bottle
that could induce cancer, Perrier appeared to the public to be
playing down the seriousness of it. The public was told that even if you consumed an enormous
amount of their product you would still be safe.
The organization withdrew the bottles from the affected
areas and mounted a huge advertising campaign to indicate that
Perrier was good for you. This
did not bring back public confidence in the measure that was hoped
for, and many competing brands benefited. When it comes to
anything life threatening, customers don’t want words, they want
action. Johnson &
Johnson’s credo led to the appropriate action, an example
of the power of the entrepreneurial spirit.