Between Strategy and Implementation

In the world of ‘exit motivations’ it has been an incredibly diverse week. As well as positioning the latest thought about exits it is continually interesting to be engaged between academia and industry and continually attempt to connect the two. Connecting the two isn’t as straight forward as you might think with both wishing they had more time to access the other.

Why does it matter though?

Last week we talked about Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behaviour. In the 20 journals read over the last week (yes, my head hurts) which were all researching exit motivations, plans, strategies (what is the difference..?) 19 analysed data regarding theory of panned behaviour and not actual behaviour. Why is this important? Well, as the debate went last week, aside from arid toast, surely if you have planned well the actual should follow naturally.

But who sense checks your plan? Elbow (what???) wrote a song about the loneliness of a tower crane driver (double what??). Equally Zhu et al wrote about ‘the impact of entrepreneurs loneliness on business exit intentions through entrepreneurial passion’. I know, I’ve wedged Elbow in there, I knew I could do it. In effect, loneliness is an issue in many worlds but never more evident than in the world of entrepreneurs. This week I checked in with an entrepreneur who is second generational family business. The appetite for growth and desire to drive the business is brilliant. But we talked, frankly, about loneliness. Loneliness and also the concept of, well, who do I speak to? Bob at the pub (other names are available), family (even harder in a family business), advisors (but just how qualified are some of these advisors) all whilst trying to balance, juggle, risk, mediate, engage, lead and drive. “loneliness is a serious dark side of entrepreneurship’ (Shepherd 2019) is an eye opening journal.

And this is what we need to understand more. What happens? What happens between strategy and execution, plan and action, intention and delivery? How do entrepreneurs continue to challenge their thoughts and with whom do they, and can they, engage with.

Josef Ortega talks about living fully, something us entrepreneurs (and now academics) try to do. Ortega describes it as to live in a constant state of questioning the assumptions we’re making about the world around us that may be self-limiting. I know. What. Again! ‘In other words a constant re-justification of the theoretical framework we use to make sense of the world and our place within it’. (Stephen West 2023) To be able to think, and find such time to think, is one thing. But to test and learn, to measure reaction requires network, engagement and, dare I say it, humility but within a safe environment. Remember we live in a world that is quantitively rich on opinion but qualitatively poor. Every can be an expert and you can access it freely (also see Trip Advisor and Revolt of the Masses, Also Ortega!).

The arid toast aside the theory and the plan should be married. Pragmatism is wholly important within the plan but as is the concept of realism. The world will continue to spin regardless of an entrepreneurs decision about how, and why, they exit. Loneliness will continue to be an influencing factor to why the plan and execution continue to be two alien paths.

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