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BW Businessworld

Tackling Uncertainties

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Handling uncertainty in any business is a daunting task. It is a risk if uncertainty is not handled properly. At the same time, uncertainty brings opportunities for new innovation if it is analysed properly.

In quantum mechanics, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle was a ground-breaking theory that changed the thinking in the world of particle physics and helped explain many natural phenomena in the micro world. It teaches us that the more precisely the position of a particle is determined, the less precisely the momentum is known in this instant, and vice versa.

I always wondered if we could correlate this in our everyday life in business, particularly when we are faced with challenges and dilemmas due to the uncertainty of acceptance of new technology or product in a highly competitive market.
Tinku Acharya
I had no clear answers until I read The Innovator’s Method: Bringing the Lean Start-up into Your Organization by Nathan Furr and Jeff Dyer. Furr is professor of Entrepreneurship, Organisational Leadership and Strategy at the Marriot School of Management (BYU), Utah. Dyer, also a professor, has earlier written The Innovator’s DNA with Insead’s Hal Gregersen and Harvard Business School’s Clay Christensen.

There is an inherent conflict between traditional management in a well-established corporation and entrepreneurial management for startups when it comes to bringing new innovation in the marketplace. The Innovator’s Method clearly teaches us to slowly blend traditional management with entrepreneurial management, as we scale the market, process, and team. It tells us to continuously interact with the customers and end-users. Often, we discover uncertainties that we have overlooked and this brings new opportunities for innovation.

The “Nail It Then Scale It” philosophy, which tells new entrepreneurs to avoid the mistake of scaling an unproven innovation too early, is really powerful and insightful. In the case of true innovation, the market is highly uncertain, a business plan is of not much use and one does not really know what the demand is like. Instead, one should learn by doing. It is important to ascertain the strength of an idea by experimenting in small settings.

Being a technologist and a scientist at heart, I have always wondered whether a business management school can really create an innovator or a truly successful entrepreneur.

It is my firm belief that entrepreneurship cannot be taught; it comes from one’s character. Until I read this book, I was not aware of the powerful argument by Canadian-American entrepreneur Elon Musk, the founder of companies such as Tesla, SpaceX, and PayPal: “As much as possible, avoid hiring MBAs. MBA programmes don’t teach people how to create companies… hire someone in spite of an MBA, not because of one.” There are lots of interesting and useful lessons in this book which will be of help to budding entrepreneurs.

The author is Founder & Managing Director of Videonetics

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 18-05-2015)

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