One morning last week while reading articles on LinkedIn Today one article in particular jumped out at me. The article titled “Entrepreneurs need not apply: Companies shun the self employed” and I thought to myself “you’ve got to be kidding“. So I opened the article and was amazed at what I read or maybe I shouldn’t have been.
The article states “Entrepreneurs and freelancers attract fewer interview invitations than comparable candidates who have spent the last few years working for someone else, according to research which will be presented to the Academy of Management annual conference in August. In the UK, the self-employed received almost two-thirds fewer interview requests than people with similar professional experience who worked only at employers.“The stigma against the self-employed may indicate that hiring managers just don’t see them as a good fit in their corporate culture. Traits that work for start-ups—risk-taking, taking charge and adopting “unusual points of view”—don’t necessarily work well in corporate careers, the paper noted.”
That’s ironic because company executives and human resources say they are looking for self starters, innovative hires, a certain entrepreneurial spirited people equipped with a 21st century mindset. Just maybe corporations need entrepreneurs more than entrepreneurs need corporations.
The Opposing Forces of Two Mental Models
Corporations have become factories of mental models created over decades of controlling how and what people think through the influence of power and money. The attitudes have created cultures of “we are in control and we pay you to follow the rules we make“.
These mental models were designed to build organizations where compliance and productivity of human labor determined profitability. Subsequently organizations were built around a hierarchy of control similar to the military where the strategy was to beat the enemy. This mental model is dependent on compliance. Compliance through control of resources via influence of power and money has proven to be limiting and costly.
The mental model of an entrepreneur is opposite of the old models followed by many corporations. The best definition of the entrepreneurs mental model was conceived 37 years ago by HBS professor Howard Stevenson in his book Breakthrough Entrepreneurship which states “Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.”
While corporations say they want to recruit people who have similar attributes as entrepreneurs the fact is those very people will typically disrupt the old school corporate cultures. A disruptor will either create support for the necessary change or quietly be dismissed and labeled as a trouble maker. The reason the two will never get along is because of the opposing mental models.
The real issue is which mental model works best in the 21st Century? The markets will decide and so far the entrepreneurs seem to be winning.