It’s interesting. I’ve worked in and around the enterprise agenda for many years, working in so many different contexts – education, politics, institutions, businesses – and although I have experienced entrepreneurship in every situation, it continues to frustrate me that ‘being enterprising’ is so frequently undervalued in every context other than business.
In fact, in my experience even in business entrepreneurialism is too often seen to be the domain of the business owner – the ‘entrepreneur’, the ‘risk taker’ rather than recognised as, as I see it, critical to every layer of a business, no matter how large or small.
Enterprise thinking really needs to move on
Writing this article was prompted by three events over the past couple of months that made me realise that despite our best efforts the status quo around enterprise thinking really needs to move on.
I was invited to deliver a cross-organisational workshop within a growing architectural practice in China, with a solid focus on developing enterprising behaviours amongst the staff team – it was a huge privilege to lead the session, and feedback was great, but it made me realise how rare an occasion it was. Why are more businesses not encouraging their staff teams to be enterprising to accelerate their success?
Job applications by a close colleague who had decided to return to an employed role after over 10 years of self-employment were met with a combination of fear (the threat associated with an ‘entrepreneur’ being unleashed into the ranks of their organisation) and sympathy (clearly something must have gone wrong and this must be a backward step). Her decision was actually based on her success – not her failure – and so a desire to use her now vast experience to make a difference in a broader and deeper way than she could hope to achieve independently. Why then did it seemingly take such a brave step for a new employer to ultimately take her onto the payroll?
When attending a conference involving academics and business leaders, as I took my seat a leading scientist explained he was ‘an academic, not an entrepreneur’ – I’m not quite sure why – then proceeded, during our ‘get to know you session’, to explain a future business idea to be pursued during retirement which was innovative and creative – he definitely was an entrepreneur in my eyes.
Embrace enterprise or be left behind
It’s 2017! In today’s fast-paced, ever-changing world, the value of entrepreneurship needs to be understood and fully embraced, because those who don’t embrace it will surely be left behind. Enterprise has no boundaries.
An enterprising attitude, an ability to think creatively, to be resourceful, to be on the look-out for new opportunities; this is entrepreneurship.
We need to create opportunity!
Entrepreneurship should never be restricted to business leaders – enterprise has no boundaries.
It’s fair to say that encouraging entrepreneurship brings with it a risk – a risk of change – but without embracing change we cannot achieve brilliance. We should therefore not fear risk-taking – the disruption that stems from entrepreneurial behaviour is the very thing that drives innovation and creates opportunity. Surely in policy, education, institutions and businesses we need to create opportunity? Yes we need to manage our risks – I’m not advocating reckless abandon – however if we create the conditions to encourage and stimulate enterprise throughout our society, we will surely enhance our capacity to tackle so many of our problems, large and small?