CEOs and Entrepreneurship

There’s always a challenge for CEOs to keep the same entrepreneurial spirit alive that was present when the company was founded.  I’ve recently talked about founding CEOs who were ousted in a few years – after the company was formed and doing well, when it was decided that a “real manager” was needed (see LEAD-ZINE, August, 2017).  The same can be true of “management” CEOs who have lost their hold on the company’s entrepreneurship capabilities.  In recent months, this has happened at Ford, General Electric, and Buffalo Wild Wings, among others.  At Ford, CEO Mark Fields warned the company’s board that needed technological changes meant that the company would be required to invest some of its profits in research and development activities for the fast-approaching future – in other words, he was expressing concern that the company needed a better entrepreneurial, creative approach to its line of products.  The board, however, determined that stock prices needed to be reinflated, to please investors.  Thus, Fields was let go and a replacement found.  This is a common story – when companies, particularly companies as old as Ford, fail to see the advantage of stepping out of their current molds and into a future of change, creativity and adventure.  Resisting change is what frequently causes companies to fail.  For the present, this won’t be the case with Ford.  But the company will likely lose some market share in an effort to embrace its staid ways.  An environment of entrepreneurship along with organizational structure (bureaucracy) are both requisites of the most successful organizations.  Unevenness and a lack of balance is created when one aspect is present and the other is not.

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