Killing Entrepreneurship

The question I’m asking is:

Do large companies kill smaller companies??

Obviously, duh?? Of course larger behemoths devour smaller fry. Its the law of the world. Remember Darwin?? Survival of the fittest?? Rings a bell???

Ah well, of course I’ve done my basic Biology course. The biggies do gobble up the little ones.

However the feast I’m talking about happens without bloodshed… no restructuring, no layoffs and definitely no takeovers. The way it happens, I’d say it’s competition elimination without spending anything…. Now isn’t that a dream run???

Picture the situation.

Joe Engineer passes out of his engineering college with real hopes of changing the world. Though he never went to an MIT, he’s had enough talk been given to him of the divinity of the engineering profession. Typically he joins up a top IT firm and begins his climb up the corporate hierarchy. At this stage, he’s really happy to sit in front of a computer and wallow in megabytes of code, all with the intention of "putting a smile on the customer’s face".

A year into the job, Joe suddenly realises that he’s not exactly changing the world, but rather following code-correction orders from the Project Manager. Joe realises that to improve the situation, he ought to be giving those orders. So by hook or crook (more crook than hook usually), Joe Engineer becomes Joe Project Leader.

Suddenly Joe is now faced with a new monster. Project Finance and budgeting. Compared to these, building a supercomputer is a cakewalk. Joe also realises that his orders are now coming from top management, who now talk business rather than technology. Moreover, he also gets acquainted with Mr. Welch, Mr. Murthy and Mr. Gates and finally realises the path to true nirvana. And that path has a single milestone called MBA.

So Joe enrolls himself to be an MBA. Now it all starts to make sense. Organizational Behavior, Integrated Marketing, Financial Management, Project Management, all coupled with Peter Drucker, Tom Peters and Philip Kotler. He tops the Entrepreneurship course. Changing the world is now easier than ever.

Back in the job, Joe finds himself on a new pedestal. His old technology team doesn’t know what to do with this ‘outsider’. "After all, he’s all past gone beyond understanding the beauty of a recursive algorithm", they say. So Joe goes to top management.

"Ah yes, the newbie", they say. "Promising young fellow", they say. "Let him learn the ropes", they say. And Joe is put in charge of his old team with the sage prophesy,"Someday, you will be CEO". Joe Project Leader is finally transformed into Joe Manager.

So poor Joe is back to doing what he was before he got his MBA. He’ll never be back into technology, because he’s an MBA. And he’ll retire with the eternal hope that someday he’ll be CEO, because he’s an MBA!!

And that’s how the new firms are killed. In the minds and morales of brilliant executives who want to break out, but don’t know how and where. A sort of corporate abortion, prevalent in most top firms globally. And finally Joe disappears, a statistic, a face in the crowd. Without changing the world.

So much for Intrapreneurship and all that gas. Intrapreneurship forces one to think in terms of the existing or emerging markets, not radically as innovation is meant to be. For example, would an IT Giant stake into gourmet foods, even if the market for gourmet foods was booming?? Unlikely, with all that jazz about corporate focus, isn’t it??

And Can Joe quit?? Possible, but very unlikely. Not if he wants to constantly hear, "You quit XYZ?? What are you, an idiot??" or if he wants to suddenly wants his social circle to disappear. Its easy if you’re in a mid tier company to chuck it all and go the lone road, but when you’re in one of the top ten firms, it seems like a long long long way down.

So is there a solution?? Maybe. I’m still searching… and something tells me its in the force of collective efforts… A team … to walk the lone road together…
I’ll post my findings in a future post, so until that time, Au revoir!!


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