Someone asked me this: “I think your service in OD is useful for corporates only. But, you said that OD is essential for entrepreneurship. How could that be?”
Some may think that is just irrelevant thing to talk about, but I think it’s a quintessential question. My answer was simple: “Entrepreneurship and OD is about taking and dealing with risks in a huge bet we call as future”. I see entrepreneurship and organizational development (OD) share similar essential reason: Taking all the risks to become something new and sustainable!
Consider these questions:
Why some people just failed at school and succeed in life after it? And, why some successful students ride a plain life with no glory and somehow ‘disappear from the radar’?
Well, of course it’s inaccurate to say that all successful people are school-failers. It would also be misleading to say that all top graduates failed in life and careers. There are many examples of succesful students turn to great entrepreneurs and public figures. So, how they did in school not always defining they entrepreneurial endeavor. But I think it’s also fair to say that school excellence is not an automatic leverage for success in business.
Nonetheless, it is easy to come up with this generalization: “Those who failed at school will become great entrepreneurs, while school top graduates will become employees in their whole life”. Such generalization shifts the focus from the actual distinction between successful entrepreneur and common employees: Courage to take risks and deal with them. Hence, I’m inviting you to discuss about dealing with risks; or, in a term I’m suggesting: risk surfing.
Risk surfing make up the distinction for entrepreneurship and OD, in comparison to other organizational activities. It is more about our guts, and what strategies we deploy to make our guts useful. Please be advised here, courage are about using our guts in smart way. It is not about doing crazy stupid thing. Entrepreneurship, as well as OD, are about this issue. Allow me to peel this ‘guts and strategy’ into three major risks:
- Risk no.1- Both are trying to create a future, not waiting for it.
- Risk no.2- Both are initiating change in the business environment, and change is risky for most people.
- Risk no.3- Both are designing new ways of thinking and working, which are not yet proven to be reliable; and therefore, invite skepticism.
If you look at these three risks, you’ll see two typical response to them. First, those who do not believe there is a benefit in creating future, change and new business ways; will do nothing, or reject the whole idea. The second possible response come from who has the belief, but still skeptical. They will take ‘wait and see’ stand, not rejecting but not fully supporting either.
There is basic reason for this: The basic idea of OD and entrepreneurship is novelty, which equal to ambiguity, uncertainty abstract, complex, not-yet-proven, hypothetical and other names we use to name uncertain and unprecedented possibilities. But, the future is always unprecedented, because no matter it may resemble the past; it is never happen, well, not yet.
That’s where all the risk are.
But, as we all know, we can’t avoid our own future. We can’t deny that we have to surf on those wave of risks. OD and entrepreneurship are about visions, values, strategy, and implementation tactics to claim those waves, surf with them, and create state-of-the-art result from them. OD and entrepreneurship are about to be distinctive, creative and effective in dealing with risks of change. OD and entrepreneurship are about bring novelty to public attention, where new things transform into inspirations for many. And, when they succeed, we call them trend-setters.
I prefer another name for people who actually doing OD and entrepreneurship: Risk surfers.
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