The technological innovations of entrepreneurs often occur as a result of challenges or severe circumstances they face. For example, the Manhattan Project was established in 1941 to create the atomic bomb before Nazi Germany could achieve the same goal. In addition, when the US embarked on a mission to put a man on the moon, the impetus for this innovation was to achieve the accomplishment before the USSR. According to Thorp and Goldstein (2010), resources available for discovering new approaches in innovation are unprecedented at this time in human history and although markets are unpredictable and technologies evolve, the basic dynamics remain constant across industries, countries, and time (Thorp & Goldstein, 2010).
Four Basics of Change
Even though inertia and the status quo can undermine the need for modernizations, entrepreneurial technological innovations often occur to overcome challenges. Pool and Van de Ven (2004) postulate that change comes in many forms: (a) planned, (b) unplanned, (c) incremental or radical, and (d) recurrent or unprecedented. They contend that innovations are created out of four basic models that encourage transformation: (1) a lifecycle model that depicts the process through a sequence of stages with a logical pattern; (2) a teleological model that views development as a cycle of goal formulation, implementation, evaluation and modification of actions; (3) a characteristic model of development derived from conflicts that emerge between entities espousing opposing views that collide to produce a synthesis; and (4) an evolutionary model that consists of a repetitive sequence of variables and retention events in a designated population, generated by competition from a scarcity in resources (Poole & Van de Ven, 2004). These models represent the motors that can drive advances in technology.
Five Step Planning Process
Entrepreneurs that conform to policies which encourage effective technological innovation can help reduce their chance of organizational failure. Pool et al. (2000) endorse a five-step plan to help guide technological innovations for business operations. This includes: (1) preplanning with support in the formation of a cohesive team to identify and examine competitive technology; (2) an analysis and assessment of needs; (3) prioritizing challenges with alternative methods of resolution; (4) the design of a program that responds to obstacles identified; and (5) the implementation of the new technology, including evaluation and fine-tuning to insure continuous business operations (Poole, Van de Ven, Dooley, & Holmes, 2000). This process can also help manage workforce fears and assists to avert creative disruption concerns from individuals who detest technological innovations, believe their job is threatened, or experience anxiety from training on new systems. When entrepreneurs encounter issues, the most effective leaders welcome them as opportunities to expand and with effective communication they employ strategies that inspire creative solutions.
Creating the Right Strategy
Entrepreneurial innovations also take on substantial risks in an effort to make advances in technology. Establishing an effective strategy and vision that clarifies a purpose for the technological innovation is essential for long term success. Tactics may include significant motivational properties to provide staff members a sense that, in spite of the advances in technology, their efforts and manual labor are still appreciated and their role with the organization is of consequence (O’Reilly & Tushman, 2002). For example, an organizational leader at a prominent grocery store chain may encounter issues about concerns over dismissal and cut backs from check-out clerks as a result of new technological advances in the self-checkout cash register systems the firm incorporated. Personnel job security can be assured from leaders by scheduling an organizational team meeting to discuss and explain their innovative maneuvers. This gives the principals an opportunity to manage personnel fears and offer clarity in support of the change, accentuating it as a welcomed addition to the organization, not an elimination of staff. When employees understand an innovation acts as an aid intended to create smoother customer in and out flow, staff members can become more enthusiastic and supportive. Furthermore, once workers realize the technological advances will require additional employee supervision, staffers can relax and embrace the innovation, perhaps even discover other benefits the upgrade provides.
O’Reilly and Tushman (2002) contend that success does not need to be paralyzing. Transformation can occur through proactive innovation and strategic change. Successful entrepreneurs recognize that inspiration and sustainable staff commitment comes from an understanding that worker’s efforts contribute to something bigger and worthwhile (O’Reilly & Tushman, 2002). Indeed, while inertia and the status quo can undermine the need for technological innovation, entrepreneurial innovations emerge from a desire to make a difference in the world, or solve an important dilemma. Innovative entrepreneurs that emphasize values like customer service, quality products, and teamwork, where there is respect and the personnel feel valued, cultivate an atmosphere of committed individuals who aspire to achieve higher goals and will gravitate naturally into an organizational fit.
O’Reilly, C., & Tushman, M. (2002). Winning through innovation: A practical guide to leading organizational change and renewal. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation.
Poole, M., Van de Ven, A., Dooley, K., & Holmes, M. (2000). Organizational change and innovation processes: Theory and methods for research. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.