The Entrepreneur’s 21st Century Manifesto

TAZ Hive
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Hakim Bey’s celebrated 1980s anarchist manifesto, TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism, contains some unexpected connections to entrepreneurship and innovation.

Hakim Bey’s celebrated 1980s anarchist manifesto, TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism, contains some unexpected connections to entrepreneurship and innovation.

 

In TAZ, Bey asserts that the idea (or dream) of a full-blown revolution is in fact unobtainable in today’s highly networked capitalist world of global communications, media and technology, which he names the “Spectacle”. This is because any efforts to establish or implement a revolution will ultimately be “absorbed” by the overwhelming power of our networked world.

 

In this collection of thoughts, Bey suggests that the solution lies in looking for folds within the “information matrix”, where spaces can be opened up to their radical potential and a temporary revolution can take place. This is what he refers to as a Temporary Autonomous Zone (“TAZ”), which represents a temporary space that eludes formal structures of control, and where a non-hierarchical social system can be established for a limited period of time. As these spaces within the “Spectacle” are doomed to be absorbed into the mainstream, any use of them must remain temporary. This can be described as a guerrilla tactic of “disappearance”, where something is temporarily established, to be then dissolved and relocated elsewhere, before its environment can influence it.

 

The TAZ concept was based on the “Pirate Utopias” of the 18th century, where pirates where allegedly able to establish their own independent and self-governed communities on remote islands which eluded traditional sovereignty and established laws.

 

Although articulated by Bey in an unconventional fashion, the practice of searching for an exploitable gap within the “Spectacle”, in order to revolutionize and disrupt the established order of things, closely resembles the classic entrepreneurial strategy of looking for a “gap in the market”, in order to identify opportunities for innovation and gain competitive advantage.

 

In addition, the temporary nature of a TAZ (in that it cannot remain autonomous for any extended period of time) is mirrored by Peter Drucker’s views regarding obsolescence and innovation, in that no established organization is “divine” and that, eventually, they will become obsolete and irrelevant in the face of change. His suggestion is that the innovator must carry out such his/her search for new opportunities continually, in a purposeful, organized and systematic manner in order to remain relevant.

 

This requirement to be alert to one’s environment, recognizing that no success gained will be permanent, and being sufficiently dynamic and flexible to adapt to change, is how innovation can be repeated over time. This is, in Drucker’s view, the essence of entrepreneurship.

 

In today’s digitally accelerated and networked economy, which bears an increasing resemblance to the “Spectacle”, TAZ appears to have gained a renewed relevance for innovation strategy, particularly when considered in a Druckerian context.

 

Perhaps TAZ could be the manifesto for the 21st century entrepreneurial society, in which economic depression sparks creativity, technology democratizes competitiveness and established business models are challenged or even abandoned.