Choosing Enterprise or Bureacracy?

Most of us experience ourselves reacting to both people and events that are outside of our control.  It feels to us like control lies elsewhere.

A reluctance to take full responsibility for our actions develops.  We learn to shift the blame elsewhere.  We lose sight of our responsibility for the type of life that we have helped to build.  We genuinely believe that the mediocrity that surrounds us has nothing to do with us. It is all the work of someone else, somewhere else.  We let ourselves ‘off the hook’.

Of course it is true that there is nearly always someone (many people) who has power over us.  But even in the face of this reality, we still have choices.  Choices that can lead us towards enterprise and progress – entrepreneurial choices; or choices that lead us towards safety and maintenance – bureaucratic choices.

We can choose to operate from an entrepreneurial mindset or a bureaucratic one.

We can choose between:

  • Maintenance and Greatness
  • Caution and Courage
  • Dependency and Autonomy

In my experience many potential entrepreneurs do not recognise these choices.  They wrap themselves in the  cultural cloaks of the community and the peer group – usually more about maintenance than enterprise – and lose sight of the fact that THEY can make a difference.

In the short term of course the bureaucratic choice has many advantages:

  • You blend in rather than stand out.
  • You risk little.
  • You minimise the chances of failure (and success).
  • You help to build a culture of shared contentment with mediocrity.

In the context of making the most of your life however the entrepreneurial mindset wins every time:

  • It allows you to find and develop your own unique contribution.
  • You take more risks – and develop the relationships and experience that will help you to manage them effectively.
  • You increase the chances of failure – but also give yourself a chance of great success.
  • You help to build a culture of enterprise and excellence; of enterprise

So just reflect as you go through your working day what do your actions say about the choices that you have made – entrepreneurial or bureaucratic?

What are you doing to help people in the communities that you serve recognise that they have these choices?

How are you helping them to build a more enterprising culture?

(It is ironic that most of the organisations charged with developing an enterprise culture are essentially bureaucratic in nature.  But then perhaps you have to be if you are to navigate the complexities of public sector procurement!).

The second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.

Fyodor Dostoevsky

The second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half – unless he is enterprising

Mike Chitty


  1. Really good post -especially against the backdrop of the current economic climate.

    Being different is a prerequisite of success, especially in a world that is cluttered with noise; we don’t remember people/businesses for their ability for being the same as everyone else. In fact being the same is a high-risk strategy. However as you have rightly said, for most the idea of being different or special is something viewed as only being accessible to the elite few (e.g. the word entrepreneurship is totally inaccessible to the majority). This raises two important roles in developing enterprising attitudes and behaviours.

    1. role models or champions who people can relate to – they look the same, talk the same and help stimulate the reaction ‘if they can do it then why can’t I’.

    2. business support professionals who develop trusting relationships through understanding, motivating, inspiring and supporting people rather than judging and criticising.

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