Ambidexterity

ambidexterity

Coping with change is a challenge we all face. Some change opens opportunities for us, whilst other types of changes can make us feel obsolete.

Later to become ubiquitous, the company Zoom was set up in 2011, long before the arrival of Covid. But with the radical changes Covid brought, Zoom was ideally placed to take capitalise and grow. 

Radical change however, can have the opposite effect. Fuji Film suffered a massive disruption when the demand for photographic film all but disappeared. But the company moved into new fields and continues to grow.  They did this by not only making the best out of what they had, but also simultaneously exploring new opportunities. 

Academics call this ambidexterity, a term you’re probably familiar with. Some people can write with both their left and right hands, and we describe them as ambidextrous. 

Successful companies develop a similar skill – they can cope with both incremental change, and radical change.

This is something we can all learn from. Regardless of where we work, or what jobs we do, we too can become better at coping with change, by not only making the most of our existing knowledge but also simultaneously acquiring new knowledge.

Entrepreneurship?

entrepreneurshipWe have the great inventors of our time to thank for the electric light, the electric motor, the telephone and the motor car. But they would be nothing with the entrepreneurs. We can think of the act of entreprenuering as that of organising and marshalling the resources necessary to bring inventions and ideas to life. If the inventors develop the products, then entrepreneurs develop the solutions that exploit the full potential of these products.

Entrepreneuring is a social act; drawing on a resource bank of people, finances and physical resources to create these solution. Once the resources are assembled, it is the entrepreneur that organises these to convert the inventor’s vision to a practical solution. And as long as those solutions meet a particular need, the entrepreneur’s firm will grow.

This is why society reveres successful entrepreneurs. They spot the holes in markets, the places where customers need a solution and no solution exists. And the rewards they receive are in line with how many customers need this solution, how badly they need it and how long they will go on needing it.

So why research entrepreneurship? Although the discipline itself is relatively new, emerging as it does from the realms of economics, it is a part of our society which drives our progress like no other. From medical advances to advances in education, to communication and transportation, it is entrepreneurs we have to thank for societies advances. 

Although the positive side of entrepreneurship feature extensively in the popular press, the darker side of entrepreneurship is only more recently receiving attention. Successful entrepreneurs can sometimes forget that luck plays a crucial part in any business endeavour, and they attribute success to a naive assumption of their own inherent superiority. “Winning” becomes a goal itself, and they loose the link with the society from which their success were born. This is where we need governments to step in and curb the externalities of wealth and greed.

The rise of social entrepreneurship has given a route to those entrepreneurs who seek more than just financial reward and to improve the society in which we live. Entrepreneurship can give us a way in which we can help those less fortunate. It can also help to liberate and emancipate, proving a root to independence and self-enhancement. 

Entrepreneurship is not a discipline that stands alone. It is fed by the basic building blocks of economics, marketing, financial studies, strategy and human resources. But because the act of successful entrepreneurship is one of building alliances, exploring new opportunities and expanding on one’s network, it is a skill that is transferable to all walks of life. Reaching out to new markets with new solutions teaches us how to interact better with one another, it teaches us how to communicate better. Identifying customer needs and solving them brings a great spiritual reward beyond the merely financial.