A New Way to Think about Entrepreneurship

Published May 12, 2020

TOPICS IN THIS ARTICLE

Leading OrganizationsVision

You don’t have to run a start-up to be an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurship is a mindset rather than a job or a position. Entrepreneurship involves the ability to spot opportunities for innovation and therefore you can be entrepreneurial wherever you sit within your organisation, and even if you don’t have an organisation.

Let’s look at two types of innovation: internal and external.

Internal Innovation

I love spending time with people who are new to my country. I remember one person who visited my family from Tbilisi, Georgia, shortly after the fall of communism and the break-up of the USSR. Listening to his experiences of my country made me see things I hadn’t noticed before—the way we always apologise, the way we queue for everything, the way we talk about the weather a lot. These cultural differences had been invisible to me until international visitors pointed them out.

To be able to innovate internally you need to find a way to get an outsider’s view of what you currently do.

To be able to innovate internally you need to find a way to get an outsider’s view of what you currently do.

One group of people are especially valuable to you in finding this alien attitude—your newest hires. If you have done your recruitment process correctly you have hired great people and normally the onboarding process involves teaching them how your organisation does things. While that is an important part of their induction, it is also invaluable to you to take in their observations: what they find unusual about your organisation, suggestions they have for improvement, ways other organisations do things differently.

Another way to develop this alien attitude is through an exchange. Imagine your team spent time with a similar team, visiting each other’s organisations, applying the spirit of curiosity, turning observations into adaptations. Developing this alien perspective can open up opportunities to spot areas ripe for innovation.

An entrepreneurial spirit can mean bringing innovation into the internal processes and practices of your organisation. How can you be more efficient? How could you be more ambitious? How can your organisation do more good for the world through its delivery of product or services? How can we promote the flourishing and wellbeing of our staff and their families?

 

External Innovation

Can you spot opportunities for innovation outside of your current organisation? Can you see a gap in what exists already? Can you see something where other people see nothing? Being creative and innovative can be very exciting. There is something exhilarating about bringing something new into the world. But in order to see the possibilities of the new, we have to be able to understand the problems of the old.

In order to cultivate innovation, we have to figure out what needs to be fixed in the world.

The more we investigate the problems the more we are forced to explore possible solutions. For example, while working with the UK government, we recently uncovered that the UK’s care system was failing black boys—they wait longer to be adopted and are less likely to be adopted at all. Because the colour of a child’s skin should not determine whether they get to enjoy the security, joy, love and resilience of a permanent family, someone needs to fix this problem. With my team, we began to gather evidence as to why black children are waiting. It turns out there are a number of stereotypes around black children and black boys in general that prevent people coming forward. There are also a number of fears that black potential adopters have about the UK care system. And there are unconscious biases within the system at various levels too. Digging into the problem alerted us to what needs to get fixed and then we were in a good position to begin to think about innovating solutions.

In order to cultivate innovation, we have to figure out what needs to be fixed in the world.

At this point, it is necessary to explore the assets, stakeholders and resources available that can feed into solutions. The entrepreneurial element combines, organises and deploys these assets in a new way, perhaps with partners who have similar ambitions or complementary skills.

In our case we innovated a campaign built around the influencers within the black community we knew, drawing on the creative skills of a visionary film maker, and funded by the UK government who shared our concerns at the terrible statistics. This is just the beginning—innovation like this gathers its own momentum but needs entrepreneurs to channel that momentum towards better solutions.

There are so many seemingly intractable problems in the world right now that more entrepreneurship is needed urgently.

 

We need internal entrepreneurs who will ask the tough questions within existing organisations, churches, businesses and charities to help them become more effective, efficient and impactful in the world and more nourishing and empowering places to work.

We need external entrepreneurs who will see the possibilities of progress in the world new things and create entities that will make them happen well.

About the Author
Dr Krish Kandiah is a 2019 Global Leadership Summit Speaker.

Dr. Krish Kandiah

Founding Director

Home For Good

An advocate for fostering and adoption, Dr. Kandiah is the founding director of Home for Good, a charity seeking to find permanent loving homes for children in the UK foster care system. He is the author of 13 books including his latest, Faitheism: Why Christians and Atheists have more in common than you think. He is a regular broadcaster on the BBC and a contributor to the Guardian and Times of London. An international speaker and consultant, he offers both creativity and academic reflection to bring strategic change, culture shift and innovation. Dr. Kandiah and his wife have 7 children through birth, adoption and fostering.

Years at GLS 2019

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