Theory E²: Working with Entrepreneurs in Closely-Held Enterprises IX: Interplay Between Entrepreneurs and Maturity, Tasks, Problems and Environment
Many entrepreneurs define their problems primarily in technical and machine-related terms and look primarily for solutions of a technical and machine-related nature. Heifetz identifies these as technical situations (Type I) in which the knowledge of experts is critical. In organizational settings that focus on Heifetz’s Type I problems, there is typically a strong need for information regarding the ongoing operations of the organization.
As many enterprises become more automated, employees are less often in the business of actually producing something and more often in the business of monitoring the operations of a machine or trouble-shooting technical problems when they do arise. A thoughtful entrepreneurial leader is likely to thrive in such a setting. She is needed to further nurture the technical problem-solving and decision-making skills of all members of her closely-held enterprise.
Secondarily, this Type I organizational setting often needs some assertive functioning, for thoughtful entrepreneurial leaders often produce too much caution and bureaucracy. Technology-oriented employees often get stuck in a particular mind-set, having finally mastered the intricacies of one complex machine or computer system. An assertive entrepreneurial leader encourages continuing exploration of even more advanced technology and the movement from technological speculation and the hi-tech drawing board to risk-taking, entrepreneurial ventures.
A second kind of problem is one in which “the problem is definable, but no clear-cut solution is available.” Both the expert and person with the problem must be engaged in finding an appropriate solution. Decisions regarding human issues have often tended to be of this type. Although this second kind of problem is often fraught with difficulties and conflict, some entrepreneurs recognize that long term commitment to employee welfare is good business. Hence, increasing attention is being given to this second kind of problem, even if it is difficult to solve. Over the long run, this new emphasis on commitment to employees hopefully will lead to greater competencies on the part of all members of contemporary organizations in handling Type Two people problems.