Recently I was interviewed on the podcast “Meet, Act and Part” (link) hosted by Brothers Knott, Lahners, and Hosler.
During the interview, I expressed a point that compelled me to expand on it a bit further in this format for a bit more clarity into my full thoughts. And why they’re important to fully understand.
Here’s that point: Entrepreneur vs Management mindset (EVM).
Now a lot of you may be reading the above and instantly think “Well, duh!” But here’s the issue…
Do you really understand the underpinnings of that “duh” reaction, or are you simply reacting to the obvious? Hint: there are many CEOs running some of the largest companies across the globe that don’t.
So, are you still so sure? Let’s begin…
Note: The following is meant to be an oversimplification of premise and application for example purposes.
Also: In no way, shape, manner or form am I taking, nor should any be inferred, backhanded swipes at what is colloquially called “The Purple.” They are both necessary as well as an empowering force when the proper dynamics align.
So now with the above on the table. Let’s dive into the premise that most can react to, but most can’t formulate solutions via and why.
“What is meant with this EVM construct?” you ask. Great question, and here it is…
Management, will not and can not, ever solve a problem that requires an entrepreneurial answer. Period, full stop.
It can only solve this dilemma via coming to terms with: the solution to “X” is entrepreneurial. Only then can it either go about the task of hiring one, rehire a former, or simply come to grips with insolvency and oblivion. Regardless of how many
Ph.D’d business professors trying to state otherwise.
Yes, we’ll get into the inverse. But stay with me for the moment.
Everyone likes to use the Steve Jobs returning to Apple example. Yes, it’s apt. But it doesn’t tell the whole story. There’s more to it, far more. However,
let’s use this one because most are familiar with the story.
Now here’s a point that needs to be not only made but fully embraced to understand this EVM dilemma that’s missed by most…
It was not the simple construct of a founding father (e.g., the entrepreneur) returning to Apple that made the difference (e.g., saved it from oblivion). Far from it.
What made the difference was that Jobs had been completely broken (e.g., fired, humiliated, and ostracized) resulting from his “I’m the boss and created this place, therefore I know how to manage it. Just do as I say or you’ll be gone!” attitude.
Hint: He did not “know” how to manage and it showed.
Management on the other hand (e.g. Sculley and others) felt very comfortable with the premise that all Apple needed to do to become more successful was to better manage itself through systems, personnel, and other things. And it could only do that by getting that pesky entrepreneur attitude out of its way.
Hint: That proved as false as the Jobs premise above.
So, “where’s the beef?” as they used to say. Not only for the “meat” of the argument but as well as the “beef” with management.
Here’s the differentiator…
It was in the changed fundamental persona of both (e.g., the entrepreneur and management) that later fully embraced the construct - they needed each other, had different roles, and would allow those roles to execute the mission-critical orders as directed.
Or, said differently: They (management) would allow Jobs full reign for direction and vision, then they would execute his orders to their fullest capacity, whether they liked them or not. Again, period, full stop.
If Jobs stated: “Cut half the workforce across the board tomorrow, including senior management.” The remaining management were to draw up the pink slips and deliver them.
“Dissolve any product not currently contributing 25% to the bottom line tomorrow.”
Management began red-lining inventory stockpiles and more.
But the key to all of this that most don’t fully comprehend is this…
It was not the same Jobs, nor management prior that allowed for the Apple we know today to come forward, then became one of the largest market capitalized companies on the planet with a subsequent bank balance to boot.
No, the true catalyst for that was…
Both had to do some soul searching on just how invaluable they truly were to the entity itself. i.e., They needed each other, but that need can only be functionally valuable if both understand they are symbiotic to the entity. i.e., At scale (an important point missed by most) both are needed.
But, and this is a very big but: Only the entrepreneur can both create one, as well as manage one.
Management, with its raison d’être spelled clearly by its name - is only there to manage.
It does not create - only entrepreneurs do.
Therefore: Management, no matter how highly it may think of itself, can not solve entrepreneurial dilemmas that constantly face any company. It’s just not viable within that construct. However…
Entrepreneurs, although they may not be “management savvy” can resolve many management dilemmas either with training, hiring, or by other means.
In other words: The latter can both create and manage. The former can only manage after the creation process.
That’s an important distinction that’s missed by most.
“So what does all this have to do with
Freemasonry?” you’re now asking. Great question, so let’s expand on just that.
Today there is much lament within the Craft about multiple issues. e.g., membership numbers both for attracting as well as retention, governing bodies, concordant bodies, what constitutes education practices and topic selections, and more, much more. But let’s try and overlay what the above suggests so that we may better understand just what is happening today.
As I stated on the Meet, Act, and Part podcast: What is being missed by many, including those brought at the forefront of creating different experiences and more (e.g., podcasts, masonic cons, virtual education lectures found across the web, et. al.) is that you are the ones that are in the current position much like that of when Jobs was forced out.
Many of the newest (and most enticing as well as thought out) offerings relating to the Craft are being created outside of the construct of what “management” either wants or is creating.
If you think about it via this lens: Many of you are creating offerings “management” could never conceive of, never-mind agree upon then implement. “Masonic Con” anyone?
Remember, Jobs both remade his reputation as well as wealth first via Pixar - not Apple. i.e., computer-generated animation for movies even Disney didn’t fully grasp or contend with.
Don’t let that point just go by willy-nilly. It’s a distinction with a very impelling difference. For it was here that he both fully embraced the need for change and remade his “management” attributes as well as his ego temperament.
This is precisely what also allowed “Management at Apple” the ability to not only embrace the idea of bringing him back but rather, where they could fully implement both his vision going forward - and their (both Jobs and Apple) ability to see it through.
It was precisely this dynamic and confluence of understanding that created the necessary underpinnings for Apple to make the changes it needed on the fly, and some dramatically so, to create the Apple we now know today, yet take for granted.
Here’s a prime example of this dynamic in action and application that far too many have no real grasp of just how monumental it was and puts a stamp of reality, not theory, to all I’ve opined above.
In most people's pockets is what we now know as the iPhone®. However, what is less heralded and far more instructive to all this is the fact that when Jobs was carrying his own beta version that was about to be released very soon. He pulled it out of his pocket and the glass was a mess with scratches.
What did he do that today’s “Management” would almost certainly not allow?
He halted production, canceled the launch, and set about to find a company that could fix the issue, which at that time, was completely unsolvable without coming up with newer crystal or glass
technology. i.e., a fix did not exist - it had to be created.
You now know this fix as Gorilla Glass® developed by Corning.
There isn’t a CEO today, in my humble opinion, that would dare halt a launch of a badly needed product and innovation that was being seen to “save the company.” Along with a management team that would go along with it, all the while knowing, Wall Street would more or less punish them for such actions.
But that’s precisely what happened because Jobs knew if he didn’t - the product would look like crap in no time and would detract from its core value with the daily visual assault of “ugly” by its owners.
You Freemasons that are out there creating new content, venues, education, experiences, and more are that entrepreneurial facet of the equation. Management can not and will not create what you are, it doesn’t have the vision. It’s ruled more by committee rather than lone wolf entrepreneurism.
Management (e.g., mindset) needs something to fall into when things become far more shaky or come crumbling down around itself. It can’t think out of the box, it’s always trapped within one.
Entrepreneurs (e.g., mindset) not only can think outside the box but can think and act in ways that argue - there is no box!
Today the entrepreneurial spirit that is facilitating the many different areas to experience masonry across different formats, while bringing Brothers together from across the globe in amity that was sheer impossibility before is growing. But it’s in its nascent trajectory, therefore, it can seem as if it’s gaining no traction in isolation.
That would be a mistake for both the current “entrepreneurs” as well as “management” to conclude. On the contrary…
What many of you need to understand is that Freemasonry as it is currently constructed is not dead and going out of existence - it’s just changing. We are not at a point of praying and hoping for a rebirth. That view is not only wrong but myopic in my view.
No, what you are currently in the midst of is closer to a renaissance, rather than a rebirth. And you my Brothers are the Michelangelos, De Vincis, Brunos, and more.
You’re creating (to paraphrase WB Bizzack of Lexington Lodge No.1) “For Brothers, you’ll never see or meet in the future.”
Let your works be judged by those not only of today that find them exhilarating and beneficial to the Craft but also as something to inspire as well as aspire for those that come later to build upon and get their own inspiration from.
What you’re doing is that important.
“Management,” at some point will, much like they did at Apple, come to a realization that the best way for them to prosper is when they also re-engage with those that give their actions fuller meaning and value.
It’s inevitable, but only if you the “Entrepreneurs” keep creating. So don’t stop. And you’re not alone.
Both need each other for the benefit of not only the Craft today - but for both their futures.
Or, to use that quote everyone seems to know but we’ll adapt it to better fit this example…
“If you build it, they will come.” But if you don’t build it - Management not only won’t see it, they’ll never imagine the possibilities for collaboration.
Think about it.