Innovation and Entrepreneurial Spirit – How Countries and Businesses Are Alike

As I write this article, I am sitting in Tel Aviv, Israel visiting family. While it is far from paradise, it is an amazing testament to collective will and entrepreneurialism.

Sixty years ago Israel didn’t exist. Today, out of what was once a desert, a high tech, innovative society thrives. In discussing the formation of the state with some Israelis, it becomes clear that there are several sources of pride involved.

The first is the foresight and the will of the founders in creating a state in a geographical area where the vast majority of residents did not want it. This took:

o perseverance

o passion

o leadership

o management

o the ability to fight through negativity

o the ability to roll with the punches without losing focus

o the willingness to assume a huge amount of risk

o a true strength of purpose

The early political figures had a strong and mostly unified view, and their strength of character, the clarity of their thought process and the precision in the execution of the necessary steps led to the creation of a new country.

The competencies sited above are consistent with those needed by the founders of businesses. They are all found to some degree in the management teams of startups. But that is only the beginning.

Once Israel was a state, a whole new phase had to begin. The true entrepreneurialism of the people within the society and the discipline of multi-tasking advanced quickly.

The defense of the country was primary, and the competencies required to achieve this included strong strategic planning, delegation, leadership, execution and careful use of available resources. At the same time, the leaders of the country had to develop a viable economy and the infrastructure needed to support its population, present and future.

Agriculture and industry had to be nurtured and grown. Innovation had to be employed to a very high degree to overcome many natural obstacles. The workforce had to be motivated and developed. Israel could not just do one thing well. It had to do many things well.

Does This Sound Familiar?

How similar to a new business is this? The leaders must have multiple competencies, must prioritize, must allocate resources, must innovate and execute, must experiment and then must throw out what doesn’t work and stick with what does. There are false starts and missteps, but they must keep moving forward.

It is fascinating to look at the obstacles that Israel has faced since its inception and continues to face — both external and internal. It has made terrible mistakes that have hurt it deeply, yet the country seems to always recover and move forward.

Business owners must do the same. They must develop multiple competencies and use them well. They must constantly innovate, not just at the top, but at all levels. They must maintain their passion and purpose.

A country like Israel cannot for one moment forget the precarious position in which it exists. It would be wise for business owners to think along the same lines. No matter how well matters seem to be going, there are tripwires and obstacles within the organization and outside it. Leaders must stay alert and managers must be accountable. Innovation and entrepreneurialism must be engendered everywhere.

Imagine if the US government thought of itself as an entrepreneur. Think what it could accomplish in alternative fuels, new sources of energy, medicine, science and technology. But our government invests less money in R&D than many individual companies do. Look what Israel accomplishes per capita with the encouragement and support of its government.

Sometimes, businesses lose their edge and don’t realize it. Sometimes the obstacles present themselves in a way that they are not fully appreciated and the owners don’t see them or sense their potential effects.

This is where a trusted advisor or an entrepreneurial mentor can come in handy. This is where Management Mpowerment Associates can be of great value to an organization. Being an entrepreneur or the leader of an entrepreneurial organization can be a lonely role. Let us help you find the right path.

I have formed, along with three partners, the Managing Partner Development Institute, LLC to provide consulting and development services to the managing partners of small and medium size law firms. Check out our website. We are also working on some exciting programs for primary care medical practices.

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