Business Issues  

Technopreneurship in The Fourth Industrial Revolution

by Practice Professor KC Chan (Founder of TWAN)


Technopreneur of the 1st industrial revolution emphasizing on mechanization is history; for 2nd industrial revolution the focus is on mass production is passé; for 3rd industrial revolution the competitive advantage is through computer and automation is unsustainable. By 2020, we enter the 4th industrial revolution. It is about developing thinking human capital who has the management, leadership, and technopreneurship ability to cope with the volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous (VUCA) business environment – regionally, internationally and globally.

A Technopreneur is a person who owns a technology-driven firm. Technopreneurship is a process of transforming a person regardless of whether he/she is an employee or person who holds share or has ownership of the company in the present age of technology. The 21st century definition of technopreneur is one who leverage on technology to its ultimate advantage to achieve faster, better and smarter supreme execution capability for global business results.

Technopreneurship is a multiplying process of nurturing and developing an adequate pipeline of technopreneurs from being a capable individual in management, to enhancing team capacity through effective leadership in successful project management. Ultimately a successful technopreneur is one who achieve success, scale the success, sustain the success, and make a significance to society by sharing the success. The spirit of technopreneurship will live on, not the technopreneur. Eventually technology will transform entrepreneur into technopreneur because those who survive has to perform the mind shift to embrace, enhance, engage, and enable the optimization of technology to stay relevant and gain sustainable competitive advantage in the VUCA world of business connected by the cyber internet-of-things and computer integrated smart factories in creating the best value-adding global supply chain.

The 6As of Technopreneurship

Prof KC Chan provides a wholly approach to technopreneurship from a pragmatist treatment by addressing the why, what, how, who, when, where, and strategy of technopreneurship from the 4th industrial revolution perspective, i.e. cyber physical systems, computerized smart factories. This is captured in his book “The 6As of Technopreneurship”. The precis is as follows:

1. Awareness = I know the difference between intrapeneur, entrepreneur, and technopreneur
2. Alignment = I understand that technopreneur is a person, technopreneurship is a process
3. Action = I can also be a technopreneur with the passion to succeed by inculcating the spirit of technopreneurship
4. Adoption = I am convinced that in the 4th industrial revolution technology rules the world so entrepreneurship will transform to technopreneurship to stay relevant and to attain sustainable competitive advantage 5. Assurance = I realized that anything that cannot be measured is difficult to manage and/or control; hence the outcome of technopreneurship is to transform products/services/solutions into faster (best performance), better (best solution) and smarter (best cost) ones
6. Anticipation = To nurture technopreneurship, I need to apply holistic thinking for clarity in effective planning, systems thinking for effective control, and critical thinking for effective decision-making; to improve continuously I need to consider the opportunities and threats, facts and trends, create and innovate current products/services/solutions to stay relevant and remain competitive; commitment by focusing on the vision, mission and core values; to be sure I also need to apply lateral thinking, i.e. the six thinking hats, for effective empathy analysis. These four types of thinking skills will engage the technopreneur on how to embrace wholly thinking, i.e. maximizing the whole brain, to attain accelerated learning
7. Epilogue = Technopreneur is a person; technopreneurship is a process to transform a manager into a “thinking human capital” who has expert power, communicative power, adaptive power; to achieve success, sustain success, scale the success and share the success by making a significance to society; success built to last requires stamina power for longevity.

The Thinking Human Capital

The fundamental differentiating skills of a human being is the ability to think, faster, better, and smarter than the animal kingdom. Image the reverse scenario where the animal has superior thinking capability! Hence, it is imperative to revisit, rethink, reinvent, reengineer, redefine and relearn future skills to cope with the fourth industrial revolution based on the essence of lateral, holistic, systems and critical savvy thinking skills to nourish “Thinking Human Capital”.

The competence of a thinking human capital operating in the fourth industrial revolution is to integrate ideas, processes and systems through holistic thinking to achieve clarity in effective planning. Organizations globally need to incorporate the next generation of thinking human capital to have a broader skillset, one that equips them to think and act globally in a VUCA business environment. They must do so while embracing cross-cultural diversity and cultivating collaborative relationships within and outside their nation borders. These are the hallmarks of the mind-shift needed to develop effective management, leadership and technopreneurship of a manager wholistically – to become a whole brain manager (Thinking Human Capital).

The thinking human capital must also have competence to lead project teams in implementing different types, sizes and complexities of investments through systems thinking to achieve effective control of key performance indicators. The thinking human capital also needs to inculcate the spirit of technopreneurship to innovate complex and expensive products/services into affordable and simple solutions through critical thinking leading to effective decision making. Hence management, leadership and technopreneurship are interconnected and interdependent to attain synergy. They are like the hand, nose and mouth of a person. Any element that is missing will result in sub-optimization of the execution capability of an organization, as advocated by Peter Drucker, the late father of modern management. This clarion call in nurturing and developing future managers who are proficient in all three salient competence are inevitable to cope with challenges of the VUCA world bombarded by the ever changing business environment impacted by the 13 forces of globalization. Technology is the most predominant one.

The thinking human capital is the lethal weapon to help organizations to stay relevant and to sustain supreme competitive advantage. Thinking human capital has three distinct competence, i.e. intellectual capital, social capital, and emotional capital. Intellectual capital is developed through holistic thinking to excel in the ability to integrate concepts, ideas, processes, systems with the aid of technology resulting in faster, better, and smarter business results. Social capital is developed through systems thinking to excel in the ability to implement light-weight project (cross-functional and crossborders), medium-weight project (multi-cultural and multi-organizational), heavy-weight project (VUCA business environment).

The ability to connect and align with stakeholders’ expectations are vital for success in the implementation of projects. Projects are investments, i.e. no foreign investments will result in less jobs created. During the process of project implementation team learning needs to be a conscientious effort. Thus project-based learning, i.e. action learning is a win-win for all stakeholders who are committed to lifelong learning organization resulting in accelerated learning. Action learning is evidenced to be the second most effective learning process (75 percent effectiveness), after individual coaching (90 percent).

To be sure, thinking human capital develops intellectual capital into expert power because of competence in integration; develops social capital into communicative power because of competence in implementation; develops emotional capital into adaptive power because of competence in innovation. To last, there is one more capital that is often overlooked? Adversity capital into stamina power to succeed is crucial for sustaining longterm competitive strategy. This is where passion, patience, enthusiasm, empathy, etc. are difficult to teach but must be nurtured and cultivated. Technology is to achieve speed of execution. But we need to develop the ability to execute and the discipline in execution to accomplish supreme execution capability. Savviness in the real business world warrant common sense. Common sense should not only teach us what to think, but also how to think. This is where “Wholistic Thinking” fills the gap.

is the founder of TWAN (The Wholistic ASEAN Network) a consortium of academicians and business practitioners who apply wholistic thinking for accelerated learning. He can be contacted at wholistic_ kcchan@singnet.

The “6As of Technopreneurship” is available free of charge to members of TWAN-CLUB.

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