From my experience, the difference between managers and entrepreneurs boils down to personality and therefore corporate culture (the aggregate of employee personalities). This is why many acquired companies soon have culture clashes with the new parent organization.
Managers will work within the system, no matter how bats**t crazy that system’s rules and processes. I did a project at a major police dept where there were over 100 forms to arrest someone, including a form on where to take the suspect’s horse (approved livery stables, long out of business). Each Chief implemented their own focus with rules, procedures and forms, and over the decades, it added up. We simplified it to a more ‘reasonable’ number. Another organization implemented a ‘modern’ innovation process, utilizing the ‘stage gate’ method from the 1980’s. More agile competitors are eating their lunch. However, all the right forms and docs are being used to control the process to avoid failure.
Who’s to blame? Blame the Board of Directors who often would rather have predictability over progress. Blame the major management consultancies who make a fortune by adding processes and controls to their clients because they are employees and managers as well, afraid of taking a potentially career-ending risk. It’s a beautiful cultural fit.
Entrepreneurs, since childhood, hate rules and limits and therefore see opportunities where managers see risks. I worked directly with the founder of a very successful tech company who made the mistake of hiring a ‘big company’ President so we could grow to the next level. All we got were forms, processes, rules, procedures, and slowness. Oh, and slick Board presentations. Oh, oh, and new management levels and layers. It sucked the oxygen out of the company in just a few years. A bunch of us used to joke we couldn’t go out of business because we didn’t have the right form to request permission.
In each company’s lifespan, there’s a need for the entrepreneurial founding team, followed by managers to execute but there has to be a pivot back to entrepreneurial culture before entropy sets in.
This post describes the difference very succinctly: