The digital era is changing the structure of our planet in extraordinary ways. ‘Technological progress has accelerated to the point that the future is happening to us far faster than we could ever have anticipated. This new world is what we call “extreme present,” time in which it feels impossible to maintain pace with the present, never mind to chart the future’ (Olbrist, 2016).
The endless flow of data, the democratisation of information and the abolition of time and space, are revolutionising every layer of our society, including the economy. The world wide web, which ‘created new physics of business’, appears thus to be as one of the leading causes of the ‘radical disruption in the economies of both the creation and distribution’ (Waldman, S, 2010).
What is the role of entrepreneurs in such era of disruption?
In the history of our times, successful entrepreneurs have always been those who, by using their creative thinking, revolutionised the current reality toward the realisation of new ways of doing business. ‘More than inventors, they were the people who seized the technological advances and used them to transform our world’ (Waldman, S, 2010).
Like designers, entrepreneurs, accumulate data about the current reality and build innovative patterns of markets. In this perspective, smart entrepreneurs are those who can understand immediate changes and create products and services to satisfy immediate but still intangible needs.
As stated by Schumpeter, ‘entrepreneurship is innovation and the actualisation of innovation’ (1942) therefore represent a critical force of the economy as it redefines, through its visions, societies.
Moreover, Schumpeter believed that innovation is also ‘the centre of economic change causing gales of “creative destruction”’ (Sledzik, n.d.). It is a ‘process of industrial mutation, which incessantly revolutionises the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one’ (Schumpeter, 1942 cited in Sledzik, n.d.). Entrepreneurs thus perform the destruction of the old and participate in the creation of the new systems.
Disruption is thus the start of a creative process, the input for a redesign of the demands and offers of the contemporary market. As much as entrepreneurship is not only a job title but rather a mindset, creative disruption can also be seen as a design attitude, a ‘pro-active critical attitude geared towards questioning the outdated patterns of thinking’ (Guidi, n.d.). In this sense, design thinking is crucial to entrepreneurs as it provides strategies for identifying the circumstances for change, the stimuli to enable disruption and the means to control it. Having a precise awareness of the current times is thus fundamental to the entrepreneurial activity. As a matter of fact, Victor Papanek developed the concept of ‘Telesis’ to explain ‘how products have to reflect the true conditions of the environment, translating them into meaningful design concepts. The physical context in this sense influences and provides stimulus but is not determinant in the disruption process’ (Guidi, n.d.). Entrepreneurship is thus not only about developing new products but in setting, through commodities and services, the premises for a change by acting with confidence above what is familiar.
- Caballero, R. and Hammour, M. (1994). On the timing and efficiency of creative destruction. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. pp. 805-806
- Dobbs, R., Manyika, J. and Woetzel, J. (n.d.). No ordinary disruption. pp. 1-12
- Galli, F. (n.d.). What if Disruption Could Increase Creativity. 1st ed. Milan: Politecnico di Milano, Faculty of Design.
- Waldman, S. (2010). Creative disruption. Harlow, England: Financial Times Prentice Hall. 1-48
- Śledzik K., (2013), Schumpeter’s View on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (in:) Management Trends in Theory and Practice, (ed.) Stefan Hittmar, Faculty of Management Science and Informatics, University of Zilina & Institute of Management by University of Zilina