Entrepreneurial Principles for a Digital World



Anwar Jumabhoy, Senior Consultant, Cegos Asia Pacific & Co-author: 9 Entrepreneurisms: Management Practice for a VUCA World

By Link to Leaders on 28 December 2017

Anwar Jumabhoy will be attending at the Cegos Asia Pacific, Annual Industry Event on March 23, 2018.

Anwar has over 30 years of senior management experience across a range of industries, from shipbuilding, fast-food, technology, venture capital, and hospitality. His articles have appeared in publications of the Malaysian Institute of Management, Canadian Institute of Management, Edge Weekly and the online publication, Digital News Asia. Anwar is co-author of 9 Entrepreneurisms: Management Practice for a VUCA World. In addition to consulting and coaching, Anwar is a Mentor with Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre and sits on the Industry Advisory Panel of the Taylor’s Schools’ of Business and Hospitality.

Entrepreneurial Principles for a Digital World

Entrepreneurship is present at the start of a business but as companies grow they seem to forget their entrepreneurial roots and look to other management practices. Large companies have grown through their quest for scale, power and wealth. This meant more capital, more workers, more systems, which were well suited for a time in the past – they were in a chase for physical assets. That was before the digital world, which possibly began with Microsoft, a company that has made an impressive transition from a packaged software company – you had to get everything done, checked, boxed and ready to ship out on a disk – to a company that has embraced the internet and now is able to fix products after they are shipped. Something the industry learned from Steve Jobs?

Apple founded in 1976, a year after Microsoft, was a defining moment for the world. Then Yahoo, Netscape, Amazon, and Google happened. Then Facebook, Uber, and Airbnb. . . the digital world erupted and the rules of the game changed. Old rules were not suited for a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) world. Anyway, the new companies didn’t care about the rules of management, they had an objective in site and did whatever it took to get there.

These upstarts led by entrepreneurs without formal education were taking out the incumbents. As a result of this corporations dived into entrepreneurship; corporate entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, etc. All good initiatives for new product or service offerings, but not suited at reforming management practices. In a sense, entrepreneurship was “hijacked” by start-ups and companies only allowed it in through very limited initiatives.

Today companies spend millions on leadership development, yet these leaders struggle to effect change. Why? There is one fatal flaw in the process – individual leaders rarely have the authority to make necessary changes even within the departments they lead, much less make the organization-wide changes required.

What if entrepreneurship can be a management practice? That is what we are proposing and we urge companies to adopt these practices so they can face a digital world with confidence. Else their story will be similar to that of Kodak and Nokia. Why? Well if you don’t build entrepreneurship into your company you become bureaucratic, slow in reacting to competition, risk poor consumer sentiment and your margins will shrink. Your organization will have silos, communication becomes an issue and no one will challenge the “Custodians of Procedure”. To top it all, you will struggle to attract top talent because they now have the option to join a start-up and compete with your company!

Changes are necessary and this book argues why the way companies operate or manage needs to change. We identify nine specific characteristics that successful entrepreneurs possess; Self-efficacy, Risk-Taking, Passion, Innovation, Opportunism, Learning, Realism, Persuasiveness, and Execution.

People, the central pivot of any business, need to exhibit these behaviors so that an entrepreneurial culture is embedded in the organization. Remember; “Entrepreneurs are not different people, they just do things differently” and therefore it is something that can be learned.