Entrepreneurial mindset

Photo Credit: Kate Hammer 2016

Teaching corporate entrepreneurship

Are you ready to shift attention from who entrepreneurs are, to what entrepreneurs do? It’s possible to understand how entrepreneurs operate in and on the world, to (as Eric Ries puts it) create new value under conditions of extreme uncertainty. By understanding those mechanisms, we can teach them.

Throughline founder Kate Hammer PhD is an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship and one of those rare blends:

  • experienced in the startup world, steadily since 1998; and a founder herself
  • at ease working with corporates
  • skilled, experienced and informed about the academic study of entrepreneurship

Why invest in entrepreneurial mindset?

By teaching the methods of entrepreneurism, Throughline makes it possible for more and more people to contribute to systems that create value under conditions of uncertainty. This is a “nurture approach” to capabilities development that doesn’t settle for assumption: entrepreneurs, like artists, are born not made.

Nurturing entrepreneurism in engineering students: a case story

The Kern Family Foundation in the USA invests heavily in entrepreneurial mindset. The foundation defines the entrepreneurial mindset as the “know-why” that should accompany the technical “know-how” that engineering graduates bring to the world of work. According to the foundation: “Entrepreneurially minded individuals:

  • have a constant curiosity about our changing world and employ a contrarian view of accepted solutions;
  • habitually connect information from many sources to gain insight and manage risk; and
  • create value for others from unexpected opportunities as well as persist through, and learn from, failure.”

Through a collaborative partnership of colleges and universities called the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN), the foundation supports the transformation of engineering education. KEEN is an example of the nurture approach to capabilities development.

Culture as the inevitable factor in intrapreneurial success

Investments in entrepreneurial mindset need not be targeted to the talented few. A more powerful approach is to invest in the many able people who — if taught how to bring relevant curiosity to their work, how to usefully make unexpected connections, how to work with others to create new value — would make meaningful contributions.

Ultimately, the agility at the organisational level is about learning and empowerment amongst individuals. Culture is an inevitable factor in success.