Theory E²: Working with Entrepreneurs in Closely-Held Enterprises IX: Interplay Between Entrepreneurs and Maturity, Tasks, Problems and Environment
Human service organizations are particularly inclined to bog down in bureaucracy and paperwork. In such settings, thoughtful functioning is often not very helpful, for cold, rational processes can easily overwhelm any sense of heart or commitment to human services. In these settings, inspiring leaders are often needed in order to periodically elevate the commitment of employees, as well as remind employees of their primary mission with regard to serving human needs.
This third mode of production is very common in closely-held enterprises—such as arts and craft shops and organizations that specialize in job shop operations. These firms typically manufacture and assemble small orders to meet the specific needs of specific customers. Custom work is the norm. Small-batch production relies heavily on the human operator and is not highly mechanized. Many made-to-order manufactured products, such as specialized construction equipment, custom electronic equipment and custom clothing, exemplify this mode of production. High prestige automobiles that are individually crafted also fit in this category. The fast growing digital world of the Internet is populated by unit production organizations. Web-site designers, for instance, are often involved with unit production: each web-site is individually designed, but built on a frequently used template.
Unit production tasks typically demand close attention to detail and very high standards of quality. As a result, vision and values are usually very important and inspiring leaders are needed. Assertive leaders are often inappropriate in this setting, and participating leaders are usually out of place given the organization’s reliance on employees with unique skills. A thoughtful style often compliments an emphasis on vision and values, in that the careful assessment of quality is critical.