Entrepreneurs that Tinker get results

To play with something is to build or rebuild through a process, also known by the French word DIY. Gambling involves playing with something in an attempt to fix, repair, or improve it, especially in an experimental or unlearned way.

Most business schools like to turn the business of management into a science. But management theory is just that, even though it is often based on rigorous research. When a startup is faced with getting the product out of the door or getting the cash out, it’s more likely personal skills that count, rather than managerial skills.

Seemingly random and poorly ordered behavior can produce results. The entrepreneur who figures out how to be effective experimentally may not be able to explain how to get there. To the viewer, the behavior may appear chaotic.

Chaos seeks order

Although chaos is often thought of as referring to randomness and lack of order, it is more accurate to think of it as apparent randomness that results from complex systems and interactions between systems.

Entrepreneurs always wonder what works, rather than checking what the manual says. Their pragmatism is often what makes them agile when faced with difficult situations. This does not mean that they operate without principles, nor that managerial learning is not useful. It’s just that taking off the wash is how they survive.

New entrepreneurs are impatient for results. Procrastination tends not to be in their vocabulary. Trial and error helps them learn quickly.

Retouching is positive

The term ‘tinkering’ is generally applied in a negative sense and involves manipulating something without dexterity. When it’s in home mode, it’s often the only way to go, no matter how much good advice and training you’ve received. You are forced to make ingenious use of what you have at hand.

The interesting thing about touch-ups is that the results often come out that way. In the French language, DIY it also used to be an unflattering term. More recently it has acquired a much more positive interpretation. French business schools are happy to teach the subject, now a somewhat revered process.

Fuzzy systems reveal what works

This is not surprising because systems scientists now clearly believe that “confusing and confusing systems they continually explore, bent on finding out what works, are far more practical and successful than our attempts at efficiency.” (Note 1) This is like messy human thinking that is full of redundancy or playful and messy endeavors.

The interesting thing about manipulators is that while they have skills, they generally lack a formal plan. We have all learned how important a business plan is supposed to be for the entrepreneur. A business plan is what most startups try to produce, but there isn’t great evidence that thorough planning is the key to success. Amar Bhidé, an entrepreneurship professor at Columbia University, found that 41% of Inc. magazine’s 1989 list of the 500 fastest-growing private companies had no business plans. When I started my own business in 1982, we had a plan, full of charts and graphs and full of good intentions. Eighteen months after launch, the situation was very different.

However, a sense of direction added to the ability to find utility in unusual places can get you faster. This sense of direction or intention is what makes the difference. Manipulators generally work with intentional passion and since they don’t have all the answers, they are very happy to ask themselves and others questions.

Asking is a natural habit of manipulators.

Why do manipulators learn so fast? The lack of a plan produces a way of working that is not based on assumptions and is full of questions about why things are this way. Propositional thinking is about keeping an open mind and being comfortable with sometimes contradictory information. More naturally, we use what is known as personal construct theory, which is about making good predictions based on prior knowledge or experience about what someone will do when faced with new situations. Prejudice, in other words.

Ori and Rom Brafman in their book Sway (note 2) say: “It can be as simple as thinking of a kind of self-imposed ‘waiting period’ before making a diagnostic judgment.” If someone is playing that role with you, then “the dissenter, of course, is as likely to be wrong as anyone else, but discussion of the points raised by the dissenter can contribute to the debate.”

A circular way to learn what works

Chris Argyris, the business theorist, says that when we tackle a problem, we start with real data and experience, the kind that would capture a movie camera. Then we choose a set of schosen data and experience we pay attention to. We affix which means twhere is thischosen data and experience, develop assumptionscome hereexclusionsand finally develop beliefs. Beliefs then form the basis of ouractions that create additional rreal data and experience.

Argyris also developed the concept of Double loop learningwe learn about learning; in other words, we tinker. It’s a matter of not taking anything for granted. Entrepreneurs do that naturally and that is why they are often labeled as disruptive and don’t do things according to the book.

The strategic retouch is sequential and iterative

To be successful, retouching is not a random activity, but one with a natural sequence. Almost paradoxically it is used by entrepreneurs strategically. The first step is the diagnosis; What is the problem? The second step is to develop guiding policies; what is the direction? And the third step is a set of coherent actions; it makes sense

These three steps are how Richard Rumelt (note 3) describes the strategy. But it is not a once and for all process. We need to keep repeating the exercise. To survive, we must adapt. Adapting means changing. But do not change for the sake of change. Rather, it’s about being open to how things work and reviewing the plan so that things keep moving towards the expected outcome.

1. Margaret J Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers in A Simpler Way, Berrett-Koehler, 1996

2. Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman, Sway: the Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior, Doubleday, 2008

3. Good Strategy, Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters, Richard Rumelt, Crown, 2011

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