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Escapethe Founders Trap


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Escapethe Founders Trap

  1. 1. Cleveland Picton Dallas San Francisco Costa Rica Sydney Helsinki Toronto Ottawa Vancouver Penticton 168 King Street East, Toronto, Ontario M5A 4S4 CANADA Tel. 1-800-387-2165 e-mail: Can Your Company Outlive the Entrepreneur? ICARUS PARADOX ESCAPE THE FOUNDER’S TRAP It is an old cliche that a leader’s strength is also his weakness. In I f you are a successful entrepreneur, at some point you will be The Icarus Paradox (HarperBusi- concerned about being caught in the founder’s trap. In Corpo- ness, 1990), McGill’s Danny Miller rate Lifecycles (Prentice Hall, 1988), UCLA’s Ichak Adizes uses the term “Builders” to describe uses that term to describe your inability to make the transition the Boss-style entrepreneur in to an organization with strong administrative systems, and to supple- larger scale enterprises: ment your personal drive and magnetism with professional manage- “Builders ... do not so much ment. The founder’s trap is a limit to your growth, and could spell manage their organizations as the demise of your company. actively build them, mostly into powerful, diversified corporations. All Builders progress sequentially “The Boss entrepreneur is protective, sticks up for through two distinct phases: foun- self and friends, combative, takes charge, likes a dation building and diversification. In the first phase, they create a fight, and has to be in control.” strong basis for growth by estab- lishing a viable organization; in the There are several varieties of entrepreneur, but a common one is second, they boldly expand and the “boss” personality. The Boss entrepreneur is protective, sticks diversify, often by acquiring other up for self and friends, combative, takes charge, likes a fight, and firms.” has to be in control. If you agree with the following statements, the Citing Harold Geneen at ITT, “boss” is your style, and the founder’s trap could be your nemesis: Jack Gallagher at Dome, Jack Bludhorn at Gulf and Western and • I’m an aggressive, self-assertive person; and I can handle anger Bernie Cornfeld at IOS, Miller directed at me. I’m not afraid to confront other people, and I’ve articulates how the psychology of done it. personal excess turns triumph into • I’m good at standing up and fighting for what I want. I find it tragedy: easy to express my dissatisfaction with things. “First, ambition and spectacular • Most people don’t know it, but they create their own problems. success encourage entrepreneurial • I enjoy the exercise of power. My worst fear is to be controlled strategists to become still bolder by incompetents. and more venturesome. Expansion • If someone is holding out, I’ll push them so we get to the truth of speeds up, while rationalization and the matter. consolidation are neglected. Sec- ond, cautious and selective diversi- fication becomes an unbridled, continued on page 2 impulsive expansion into business managers know little about. Third, Summer 1991, Volume 4, Number 2 emphasis on global “grand” strate- gies becomes a neglect of substan- Inside: tive operating issues. And fourth, intelligent risk taking becomes FUTURE NEW MANAGEMENT INSIGHTS 2 recklessness as more debt is taken on and more resources are squan- Copyright Fowke Limited: May be reproduced with attribution. dered.” The New Management 1
  2. 2. ESCAPE, from page 1 FUTURE FUTURE FUTURE FUTURE FUTURE FUTURE FUTURE FUTURE FUTURE FUTURE FUTURE NEW MANAGEMENT INSIGHTS Future issues will feature: THE PERFORMANCE CORPO- RATE PERSONALITY What to do with the company that believes in its own image? Attention is so focused on perform- ance that there is no room for failure, only incomplete successes. That’s ok when the going is good, but watch out for disintegration in the clutch. WORKING WITH CORPORATE CULTURE Keys to understanding those unconscious assumptions which make up your corporate culture, and working to make your company more adaptable. GESTALT PROTOCOLS FOR IMPROVED GROUP DYNAMICS Ideas about how to harness the “This is an entrepreneurial success for- power of Gestalt Practice to im- mula, capable of taking a business idea and prove decision-making, overcome resistance, and get things com- bringing it to fruition.” pleted. HOW DOES YOUR CORPORATE Ask your senior managers, anonymously, if they too concur with PERSONALITY PAY ATTEN- these statements. If you find they agree, it means that you have a TION TO INCENTIVES? strong but very individuated culture in your company. Does your incentive pay plan There are some tremendous strengths in this culture. Your or- take account of what your employ- ganization demonstrates commitment in a go-ahead position. There ees pay attention to? If you don’t is capacity for continuous pressure and follow through on projects. know the answer to that, chances There is protection for your people, and the leaders make the way are the plan doesn’t get the results safe for allies. The company will take on aggressive competitors, you expected. and will have excellent defense against outside threats. Internally, MICHAEL PORTER ON TAPE the atmosphere will be combative, confrontational and in interac- A new training series to put your tions managers will debunk each other. There is strict supervisory people into the competitive strategy control of all aspects of an operation. picture. Values are clear and direct. Strength and independence are im- portant. Ideas and people are challenged. Cooperation is valued continued on page 3 2 The New Management
  3. 3. ESCAPE, from page 2 ESCAPE, from column 1 when the organization is challenged by an outside threat, and there Observer personality at point 5. is powerful backup and support for moving against. Justice is When things go wrong or slow valued, as is protection for allies. down, the Boss leaders find The culture is self-assured, sociable, assertive, extraverted and someone to punish and blame, strongly individualistic. often with public retaliation. Business strategies favor niches, and are set by hunch or intuition. And as crisis deepens, Boss Strategies tend to be reactive not proactive, which favors flexibility. leaders avoid putting time and Simple product innovations are made, and research and develop- energy at the disposal of other ment are downplayed. Risk is ok. people. They withdraw from the Organization structure is simple and informal. Leaders are capa- action and over-emphasize ble of delegation and decentralization when confident of the control. Leaders assume a men- strength in the organization. tal stance, and avoid emotional This is an entrepreneurial success formula, capable of taking a content. They become detached business idea and bringing it to fruition. It makes for a powerful and follow a policy of non- and focused company, capable of carving out a defensible segment involvement. Tunnel vision of the market, and defending it with great vigor. closes in, and there is only one How do we know all this? The insight comes from a personality way to proceed. Leaders inter- system known as the enneagram, or nine pointed diagram. Articu- fere with other people’s weak- lated by Berkeley’s Helen Palmer, The Enneagram: Understanding nesses for their own good. Yourself and the Others in Your Life (HarperSanFrancisco, 1991) Thus the founder’s trap turns identifies the nine basic habits of attention which determine domi- cultural assets into liabilities. nant personality patterns. These fixations are mental and emotional The founder’s trap marks the ruts that each of us, to a greater or lesser degree, are stuck in. difficulty in absorbing more structure, more system and more “When success breeds a mismatch, as it sooner or administration in the company. It is tempting, therefore, to forge later will, the boss personality reveals its darker side, ahead and implement systems, gripping the organization in the founder’s trap.” procedures and disciplines to contain and control the situation. A common entrepreneurial personality profile is at point 8 on the This turns out to be the path to enneagram diagram: the Boss. And where the leader has a boss bureaucracy for those companies personality, that pattern tends to be adopted as a cultural style by the which survive the transition. organization as a whole. Bosses hire in their own image, putting In a world of competitive other enneagram 8’s in key roles. Managers who are not comfort- fluidity, however, the path to able with toe to toe combat pack up and leave. Younger leaders and bureaucracy may be the path to aspiring leaders mimic what they see, and articulate the values and oblivion. What is required is the styles exhibited by the bosses. In small, entrepreneurial organiza- preservation of those characteris- tions in particular, the boss pattern takes hold and becomes deep tics which made the entrepre- rooted. neurial organization succeed, This is an effective business formula as long as the directness and while coping effectively with the simplicity of the strategy and structure fit with growth and a chang- needs of growth, scale, diversity ing competitive environment. When success breeds a mismatch, as and international competition. it sooner or later will, the boss personality reveals its darker side, For the founder’s trap, the impor- gripping the organization in the founder’s trap. tant insight is that the right first The good news is that the enneagram helps identify how problems step lies in developing the com- will develop. We know, for example, that the Boss personality petence and functioning of the “falls with the arrow” under stress and picks up the underside of the management group. Team continued top of column 2 continued on page 4 The New Management 3
  4. 4. ESCAPE, from page 3 building, integration, and enhancement of lateral relationships are things required to make the transition successful. And these are difficult to achieve in an organization which has valued individuality and where individuals have been encouraged to compete with one another and to stand alone. “Leadership actions with leverage include a commit- ment to people and their better qualities.” Bonnie Fowke, Managing Director Sixteen years consulting experi- ence in organizational development The enneagram provides these important clues about how to and realignment, and in human extricate the boss organization from the founder’s trap. The trick is resource management for clients in to move against the arrow to the Bosses “heart point”, the Giver, at mining, manufacturing, oil and gas, point 2. That this runs counter to the stress response is obvious, yet computers, communications, almost impossible for leaders inside to see. Indeed, third party distribution, personal service, health assistance is usually required to create a process and climate which and social service, and government emphasizes approval of individuals, and their indispensability to the administration. A Principal with situation, and develops a supportive orientation to people. Hickling-Johnston Limited and an Leadership actions with leverage include a commitment to people Associate with William M. Mercer and their better qualities. Focusing goals and strategies so that Limited in Toronto and Calgary. A people can be successful. Valuing human contact and interpersonal graduate of the University of skill building. Including everyone in. Recognizing employees with Saskatchewan and a Certified personal regard by significant people. Recognizing employees with Management Consultant. material rewards. Ensuring status and protection on projects. En- couraging mutual exchange and merger between divisive factions. It is possible to humanize a culture that pays attention only to control. Where rationality reigns supreme, it is essential to unleash the energy of emotional commitment — the stuff In Search of Excel- lence was talking about. FOWKE LIMITED - MANAGEMENT CONSULTANTS Suite 605, 130 Carlton-on-the Park Toronto, Ontario M5A 4K3 Donald Fowke, Managing Director Tel: (416) 921-0906 Fax: (416) 921-5326 Twenty-five years experience SERVICES consulting in strategy and organiza- tion to chief executives in a broad Strategic Management People Development range of industries and to leaders in • Strategy formulation • Executive team building government on policy and admini- • Consensus building • Assessment and succession stration. Formerly Chairman and • Strategy implementation: planning CEO of Hickling-Johnston Limited Goals, Tests and Operations • Executive Enneagram in Toronto and Calgary. Managing (GTO) personality mapping Director of William M. Mercer Inc. • Forum Moderator Training in New York. A graduate of the Organization Development • Executive retreats University of Saskatchewan and • Matching organization to • Strengthening management MIT's Sloan School of Manage- strategy through training in the human ment. A Professional Engineer, a • Improving organization side of enterprise Fellow of the Institute of Certified effectiveness Management Consultants, and a • Strengthening corporate culture member of the World Business Council. 4 The New Management