Entrepreneurial DNA

I have been pondering the idea of Entrepreneurism. Over the last year and a half I have been reading, eating, and living the idea. It has led to a new major at the school where I teach. The Social Entrepreneurial major will start in August.

As I have read about Entrepreneurs, such as Richard Branson, I have come to believe that these individuals are unique. Their DNA separates them from the pack. Whether they are singular or serial Entrepreneurs; they are a different-breed!

Roger Martin and Sally Osberg help us to understand what an Entrepreneur is and does. They state, “Entrepreneurs are believed to have an exceptional ability to see and seize upon new opportunities, the commitment and drive required to pursue them, and an unflinching willingness to bear the inherent risks.” There are systems that perform at low levels, but somehow Entrepreneurs can see how that system performance can be improved and how to get it accomplished.

Joseph Schumpeter, an early 20th century Economist said this about the topic, “Successful entrepreneurship sets off a chain reaction, encouraging other entrepreneurs to iterate upon and ultimately propagate the innovation to the point of ‘creative destruction,’ a state at which the new venture and all its related ventures effectively render existing products, services, and business models obsolete.” The possibilities associated with Entrepreneurism are unlimited.

Hal Gregersen is an author and professor at the graduate school INSEAD. He studies Innovation and Leadership. Under the heading of Fostering Entrepreneurship Gregersen states, “The data would say about one-third of our creative capacity is DNA. The other two-thirds is the world we grow up in and work in.” He is arguing that if we intend to foster Entrepreneurism in our children we must foster creativity within them by not asking them what they did today in school, but ask them what questions did they ask today. I like that!

Gregersen goes on to say that if we are going to foster a creative culture then leadership must create an environment that is safe to ask the difficult questions. Leadership needs to foster an environment that allows provocative and disruptive questions, which will, as Schumpeter states, allow creative destructive to occur.

According to the WSJ this morning Israel has the innovative formula that is fostering Entrepreneurism. Nava Sofer states, “We have a cultural heritage of academic excellence. We also are a small country with not many friends around us, and we have managed to find the only corner of the Middle East with no natural resources. That leaves you with brain power and brain power alone.” If necessity is the mother of invention, then Israel has found the key. Nova also discusses how compulsory military service helps to foster an entrepreneurial environment. Through military service the young people develop problem-solving skills that help them think quickly on their feet. The combination of learning and problem-solving continues to help Israel stay ahead of the competition.

I hope that our new program will do the same thing. I hope that we can create a culture of creativity and innovation that will allow students to create Entrepreneurships that not only meet social needs, but become financially viable.

And that is my thought for the day!


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