Techpreneurship, with Jeff Amerine
(Jeff Amerine is an IA advisor and officer with the University of Arkansas Technology Licensing Office. Each Thursday, his Techpreneurship blog will appear in INOV8. Drop him a line in comments.)
Folks, there’s a point to this week’s rant, so stay with me. My challenge to all of you is to choose not to participate in the current recession. Instead, choose to be a catalyst for the recovery. Become a student of opportunity. Look for the big problems and go solve them!
If “necessity is the mother of invention,” then economic adversity must surely be the father of entrepreneurship. So here’s a bit of a story to highlight why recognizing the new normal makes techpreneurship so critical.
One thing that has clearly changed over the past several decades is the idea that long-term job security can come from locking in for a fulfilling career with a big, stable organization. Not to say it still isn’t possible, but it is going to be the exception rather than the rule, in my view.
After leaving the military, I witnessed some of the pitfalls of this traditional notion first hand early in my career while working at Westinghouse. During the course of about a six-to-seven year period in the late 1980′s to the mid 1990′s, Westinghouse, one of the most revered multi-product industrials, essentially self-destructed. In most core sectors up until that period, Westinghouse gave General Electric a run for their money and the rivalry was legendary.
For Westinghouse, the beginning of the end came when the post-cold war defense spending drawdown converged with a $15 billion writeoff from bad commercial real estate and financial services speculation. This put the company on the edge of financial collapse. As one would expect, new leadership came in at this critical juncture and determined over a period of years that shareholder value could best be served by breaking the company up. The company had lost its way, it forgot what it once was, and had no vision for what it could be.
The divested or merged pieces went in every direction around the globe. At that point, the company George Westinghouse created with such great spirit and rivalry to compete with Thomas Edison’s General Electric was gone… All of you could probably give scores of other similar examples.
So why does anyone care about this old tale of woe, and how is it relevant to the Techpreneur? The conditions that created this new normal, this lack of long-term individual employment security in big companies, also created fertile ground for the kind of technology innovation and entrepreneurship that led to the technology revolution of the past 20 years.
The current economic adversity can lead to the next great techpreneur-led revolution. After all, the problems are no smaller, and the opportunities to solve real problems have never been greater.
Where to start? No doubt, a lot has been written on this topic. Even so, I recently ran across a pretty interesting road map for how to reinvent and reinvigorate our economy, for how to choose to not participate in the recession. It applies equally well to large or small businesses.
The creator of the map, Richard D. Smith, runs a management-consulting firm in Washington, D.C. He shared his plan on LinkedIn, and it is on his website as well. I’d recommend you all check it out, and let me know what you think:
If you have comments or other interesting links on the topic of entrepreneurship or strategy, by all means, fire away!
So are you ready not to participate in the recession?