A Community Ecology of Enterprise

Enterprise is not just about 'entrepreneurial types' and 'business ideas'. It is not just about business and commercial endeavour. If I want to make something happen to improve things in my community I may start a business, but I may start a campaign, or a festival, or a local action group.  I have worked with many people whose motivation was not to develop a business, but to make a difference, and in some cases setting up a business has been a means to that end.  No more than that.  It is simply a means to an end. Well managed and run these kinds of community based activity all contribute to a more enterprising community and provide the kind of community ecology and practice ground from which commercial endeavours may spring.  They also help to build the social capital that is essential to building a sustainable and resilient local economy and community. If LEPs were to think more about the kind of community ecology that supports enterprise and how this can be developed I suspect they would get a much greater ROI than on more traditional approaches of advice, managed workspace (we are awash with these in Leeds, mostly under-used and inappropriate for the communities they were built in) and access to finance. Yes … [Read more...]

Appraisal Time Cometh….

Do you need some training to help you with the appraisal process? … [Read more...]

After Business Link…Time for a change of tack?

So it was confirmed in the White Paper yesterday that Business Links will be gone by the end 2012.  All that will remain is a website, and perhaps a call centre. So what will replace £154m per year of business information, advice and guidance? Time for DIY support I think. Time for businesses and the wider communities of which they are a part to help themselves on their own terms. I am not talking about 'local'  Chambers of Commerce or Enterprise Agencies winning contracts from the State to deliver outputs and targets in return for tax payers cash.  That will just recreate the problems of the old regime: post code lotteries, sectoral discrimination, services designed to trigger funding payments and hit targets, rather than work in person centred ways to deliver just in time support to the people who are hungriest for it, groupies who learn to lunch with the bureaucrats and help them to deliver the targets while some people who are the most hungry for support are denied it because they are not aiming to turnover £2m within 24 months, live in the wrong part of town, aren't working in a priority sector and so on. DIY culture can provide support that is: more accessible, more inclusive, much less expensive and … [Read more...]

New Enterprise Allowance or New Enterprise Alliance?

Another government, another push for another 10 000 small businesses to be created from the ranks of the long term unemployed. To me it seems similar to what we already have under the Flexible New Deal, unless I am missing something: it may be a tad better resourced.  But, I am encouraged that Iain Duncan Smith appears to have a real commitment to social justice, at least, he chairs the cabinet committee on it.   Let's hope that his commitment to social justice rather than newspaper headlines really shapes this New Enterprise Allowance. So what are the chances of success for the New Enterprise Allowance, and what might be the pitfalls? To begin with, although I am a big fan of mentoring, I am not convinced that it is the best way to support people with transitions from unemployment to self employment.  The best mentors (as opposed to coaches) have 'been there, done that, seen the film and got the t-shirt'.  They can offer sage advice and guidance based on practical experience (usually gained over many years in a specific and relevant industry, and importantly should be chosen by the mentee and not assigned to them by a service provider); Mentors should know what it takes and be available to put in the time and … [Read more...]

The Web Changes (nearly) Everything…and what to do about it…

The web has changed (nearly) everything. Bloggers, Tweeters, Patient Opinion, Fill That Hole and so on...the web is full of people's opinions, experiences, ideas and beliefs about you, your organisation and your products and services. It is far more likely that we will read about what you do in a piece written on the web by our peers than a piece written by your Press Office or PR agent on your website. We have learned to recognise and respond to authentic voices that want to converse.  We are increasingly immune to your sales pitches.... In this one day workshop we will explore exactly what has changed because of the web and how. This will not be a day for technologists and web geeks, but for communications professionals, service managers, business developers, strategists and others who are wondering how to manage perceptions on the web and use them to build a better business. We will not be looking in any detail at the specifics of particular social media platforms or web sites but we will be examining how the new information that it surfaces can either kill or cure an organisation. We will then look at practical actions and strategies that will help to re-position you effectively in the web enabled … [Read more...]

Jim Collins on the Importance of Drucker

Why management matters.... … [Read more...]

Sticks, carrots, coercion and coaching

“What we did establish is that the carrots offered were far less effective than the sticks employed." Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts - talking about the 'limited effect' of Pathways to Work pilots Sticks and carrots have a long and noble tradition in the  management of donkeys.  However even with donkeys there are times when the 'bribe and  punish' approach to change management fails: When the donkey is not hungry enough When the effort of reaching the carrot is too great (the burden is too heavy) In these circumstances we may choose to resort to the stick.  But this too will not work if: the pain of the stick is thought to be less than the pain of moving forward the donkey learns to like the stick and the attention that it brings But I think the real issue here is not about the limitations of sticks and carrots in the management of donkeys and people. It is about the complete and utter failure to understand the nature of human motivation.  Motivation is that which energises, directs and sustains a person’s efforts.  Sustains efforts.  Sticks and carrots applied to move a donkey from one (expensive) field to another (less expensive field) do NOTHING to sustain efforts.  In … [Read more...]

What Can You Learn from Netflix Culture?

There is some great content here, but then there should be in a 128 slide deck!  This is not to be presented, but read.  And thought about. Look at how this information is communicated. Performance on this in the private sector is often poor. Performance in public and third sectors is usually worse, in my experience, because the disconnect between espoused values and reality is often wider. In very small businesses it is not a big issue.  But as things scale up, as middle managers and team leaders start to appear this type of issue can become 'make or break'. Everyone is clear on what works at Netflix.  Employees, customers and shareholders. How do you communicate about culture? Do words and actions match up in your organisation? What can you do to improve things? … [Read more...]

Put On a Happy Face

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Kurt Cobain and MC Hammer as Enterprise Gurus

In a week when Dragon's Den has returned to our screen portraying a particular take on entrepreneurship I htink that we can get fresh inspiration for entrepreneurial good practice from less mainstream reference points.  Here are a couple of examples from the music industry. Nirvana are not the usual reference point when considering characteristics of the successful entrepreneurial start up, but this post teaches some valuable lessons: http://lateralaction.com/articles/kurt-cobain-startup-success/ I also love this podcast where rappers and other 'street' musicians talk with Stanford University about the impact of the internet on their business models - featuring 80s legend MC Hammer and Quincy Jones III http://ecorner.stanford.edu/authorMaterialInfo.html?mid=2047 Thanks to Hope&Social's own @edhombre for pointing me at the Cobain piece. Hope & Social are finding their own ways to build customer loyalty and make a living (and fun lives) from the music industry without having to sell tons of bytes. … [Read more...]

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