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Publications by Demotech : Entrepeneurship after 9/11
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Entrepeneurship after 9/11

Translation into the Dutch language: Ondernemen na 9/11

As a response to the terrorist attack of September 11th, 2002, entrepreneurship should develop a vision to enhance global stability Using new developments like networks and speeded-up innovation, the strength of entrepreneurship can be enhanced. Aspects of such entrepreneurship as a frame of reference are mentioned here after:

  • Awareness of the value of ethical entrepreneurship.
    Promoting social harmony benefits entrepreneurship. Ethical entrepreneurship doesn't attempt to usurp poverty and the environment, but sees to its improvement.
  • Awareness of the opportunities of innovation and design.
    See innovation as an adventure leading to unforeseen opportunities. A target fixated in advance becomes an obstacle; the planned road towards may lead astray. If target and road may be variable in decision making for enterprise, it is innovation that will provide a widened base.
  • Awareness of the opportunities offered in a network.
    All kinds of desirable or possible implementation steps are already taking place in other locations as well (and sometimes better). Networking make this capacity a source for one's own entrepreneurship.
  • Awareness of the value of sharing knowledge.
    Most knowledge needed for a specific production process is available. This knowledge may be integrated if also the own knowledge is presented in a transparent way.
  • Awareness of the value of rapidness.
    If all facilities and all knowledge is available in the network, success of entrepreneurship will be the result of the speed in which learning and making effective choises is achieved.

    Testing the Vision on entrepreneurship after 9/11
    Implementing the axioms, at least as an experiment, can test each vision, including this one. Such a test should be directed at the following three aspects:

  • The final result of entrepreneurship, the service rendered or the good manufactured: A new, innovative product, in relation to a useful service.
  • The fashion of entrepreneurship, which fashion of manufacturing fully uses new opportunities?
  • How to learn from the failures and from success as well with experimental implementation? How to structure the learning trajectory?

    Proposal for an experiment
    Regard the following proposal for the implementation of the three aspects, mentioned before.

  • NightReader, product and service
    Reading is a fundamental desire. The following situation is recognizable for everyone: sitting outside on a warm summer evening, enjoying the peacefulness and concentration on reading a book. A bright reading lamp would attract insects. That's why only precisely the lines you're reading should be illuminated, not more than a small section of the page. Globally this situation applies to a billion people living in the moderate climate zones and to five billion people living in the tropics.
    Of those last 5 billion, half is under 16. For them studying and therefore reading, is a must. In the tropics the sun sets early, in the cooler evening it's more agreeable to read outside. To not attracting insects with dispersed light counts even more in the tropics than in moderate climates.

    The picture of the NightReader illustrates the idea. All elements of this product are based on new technology:

  • The cap is vacuum formed out of mirroring plastic foil.
  • Lighting through LEDs, transmitting white light, fed by a small rechargeable battery.
  • A tiny solar cell charges the rechargeable battery during the day.

    We are dealing here with a simple gadget, comparable in cost and functionality with a gas lighter. But it is not a throw away product. Regarding construction and functionality, a long useful life is likely. The only thing truly remarkable about the NightReader is that it doesn't exist yet.
    The ethical aspect is worth emphasising more closely. This product is of evident importance in the process of education and development of hundreds of millions of young people. In the evening or early morning they can gain four hours each day for studying. It is such a simple and extremely low cost contraption, that it can be made available for all who need it.
    The scarce educational capacity now available may become more productive by the utilization of the NightReader.
    The NightReader should not be perceived as a gimmick, first reaching the rich and later the poor, in a stripped version. The introduction should result in the immediate fulfilment of an important basic need: education.

    The method of initiative, production and distribution, as described in the following point, should be seen as a product in itself. It's tradable as franchise, expertise or content for a study curriculum.

    The plan for entrepreneurship, a -partially- new way of cooperation between the partners: designers, producers and users. The role division between partners is much like in regular process development, but differs in some points:

  • Ideal is that consumer organizations indicate the felt needs of their members, the end-users. These consumer organizations either take the initiative to contact the designers or are their counterparts when the designers take the actual initiative.
  • At present, when the new approach still has to come off the ground, one or more designers start the process. Such designers have a similar expertise as an industrial design office, however they are willing to act on their own initiative and expect a return from the sale to clients of the expertise resulting out of their initiative. Clients are the producers, firms dedicated to optimising actual production and distribution, who want to base their work on ready-made product concepts, with all preparations done.
  • Designers start with a marketing concept, an innovative design and a management set-up. After finishing this preparatory work, they approach a limited number of producers, firms capable of realizing the actual production of the design. The profile of such a firm should match the character of the initiative. The designer set the rules of the game. The designer has no intention to interfere with the production or the distribution and has no direct financial interest here. What the designer wants to do is to deliver the master plan and see to it that the plan can start. The design expertise, specific for each initiative, can be seen as a recipe for franchise to be sold to more than one client.
  • Multiple producers work in transparent competition, out of different organisational settings. Their motivation derives from self-interest. There need not be any horizontal or vertical ties between them. They know however that quickness is more beneficial that dominance. This ensures their keeping one another informed of their problems and results. They share their experimental expertise through an "Open Source"-connection, over the Internet.
    The producers do not need to have certain skills they would need in the usual interaction. Certain risks are not for them either. Market protection is not required; only speed has value. All information comes to them automatically. They only need to use what fits them and add where needed. Undoubtedly a beneficial cooperation with other producers will emerge, but this is no requirement for success.
    Market share and its preservation is not relevant. Entrepreneurship based on this new vision uses the designer?s product initiatives for realizing continuity. Investing is less needed and generates a more certain result.
  • Producers see the production as a learning process in reaching a recipe for production that can be sold as a product in it self. They don't start from the assumption that they can control the process of production and implement it in a centralized concept. On the contrary: they are aware that operating in different localities and changing circumstances generates many new opportunities of which they can profit.
    The support to firms they licence their production expertise to, is the important part of the work of the producers. From this the producers derive their income. It leads to a growing expertise of responding to local needs. The designers share this expertise. The accumulating effect of a competing group of producers, gaining most of their income from inspiring local producers to accept their service and expertise should cause the most rapid spread of local production facilities and therefore the availability of goods at a price tuned to the economy of the local consumer.
  • By now the actual production has become a local affair. The actual production takes place in the local economy and only little of the cost of the product has to come from outside. A producer will supply his local producers with these supplementary parts at the lowest possible cost. They have to, as the local producer could otherwise buy his production support from an other producer.
    The local producer will have to take responsibility for the environmental consequences of the production for the local people, who are also the local workers and the local buyers. The local producer will be confronted with a local voice that he has to answer to.

    This inquiry can be concluded for now with the question of how the quality of the design groups can be brought to a level needed for success. The most likely answer lies in the establishing of a discussion forum on the Internet. This should become the "window", behind which the process can be monitored. The goals, the temporary rules, as well as the achievements can be seen here. The window should request for support from think tanks, involved in the problems of poverty and environmental degradation.
    What makes this discussion new and unique, is that at the same time a complex experiment develops; the experiment NightReader. All will have their right or wrong delivered home, as soon as possible.

    Demotech, design for self-reliance, foundation

    Dieren, February 20th 2002

    Reinder van Tijen

    Publications by Demotech : Entrepeneurship after 9/11
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