.: on the frontiers of venturing and venture investing :.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The dynamics of the frontier: complex ambiguity

The frontiers of venturing are the places where conventional venturing and planning approaches become least effective. It is the effective limit of conventional approaches to venturing that define the edge of the frontier with the deepest depths of the frontier being the pre-concept stage of a systemically focused venture.

Conventional approaches loose effectiveness the earlier a venture is in the development phase because of increasing ambiguity.  The less that is known the harder it is to do linear modeling and planning.  Choices made continually reduce ambiguity as the venture moves along the development and into the realm where conventional planning approaches can be effectively used.

On the depth axis, the more systemic the purpose, the greater the complexity. As the system changes, so will the problems and opportunities being addressed as will the community addressing those challenges and opportunities. The interrelatedness of planning decisions and planning context can be an all consuming black-hole. The more you are trying to shake things up, the less you know how things are going to shake out.

While all ventures face a degree of ambiguity, the depth of your foray into the frontiers depends on the depth of complex ambiguity being taken on - a function of complexity and abmiguity.  Conventionally, managing this is accomplished either through blind faith in the entrepreneur and management team or by reducing the complex ambiguity by advancing the planning horizon and responding to situational opportunities and problems. Taking the latter approach often serves to reduce near-term operational risk but also severely limits or eliminates the potential for achieving systemic level impacts, while the former approach is limited by the abilities of the entrepreneur/management team in the unique situation of this specific venture. Neither option suggest even modest probabilities of success particularly at the depths of the frontier... which describes the venturing and venture investing community as it currently operates.

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