The Emerging Mind

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The business of human endeavour…

For a long time now I have had real concerns about the focus of policy makers, and the projects that they spawn, on 'enterprise' and 'entrepreneurship' as being just too business oriented.  It is as if the only fields of human endeavour that matter are commerce of some kind.  Making money or fixing societies ills. This is especially un-nerving when you see it played out in our primary schools as 6 year olds are encouraged to wear badges that proclaim them be a 'Sales Director', an 'Operations Manager' or a 'Brand Executive'. Yuk! What about all of those other great fields of human endeavour? Climbing mountains, making art, having fun, playing sport, writing, cooking and so on. What if we encouraged our 6 year olds to wear badges that proclaimed them to be 'Footballer in Training', 'Ballet Dancer under Construction', 'Surgeon to Be' or 'The Next Michael McIntyre'?  OK, so perhaps we don't need another Michael McIntyre.... but you get my point? Because what really matters is not exposing more people to the world of business and entrepreneurship.  It is to get them imagining possible futures, and learning how best to navigate towards them.  It is about developing people with a sense of agency and influence over their … [Read more...]

Stating the Bleedin’ Obvious…(unless you are policy wonk or their lackey…)

Not every small business or micro-enterprise owner needs a mentor. Mentoring is NOT the only helping relationship. Good mentors are rarely trained in 'mentoring', nor are they picked from a register. Successful mentors are usually selected from within the pre-existing network of the mentee.  They are spotted and developed as someone from  whom the mentee really wants to learn. Mentoring is an intermittent rather than a continuous relationship. Access to good mentors is usually restricted and respectful rather than a tradeable commodity. The success of the mentorship is usually down to the mentee rather than the mentor.  Good mentees know how to choose a mentor and manage the relationship with them to get the learning and the introductions that they need. The commoditisation of mentoring is not a good thing. Mentors are not coaches, advisers, consultants, counsellors or facilitators.  People looking to learn and develop themselves and/or their organisations should think carefully about the kind of 'help' they need. We should help people explore what they want to learn and how they are going to learn it - rather than prescribe yet another 'cure-all' that happens to be 'affordable'. We should focus our efforts on … [Read more...]

The E in LEP is for ENTERPRISE

Not Economic. Not Entrepreneurial. ENTERPRISE. If LEPs really focused on encouraging enterprise rather than economic growth how would things change? If LEPs looked at how they create a culture where enterprise (the ability to act boldly in pursuit of progress) was the norm rather than the exception, a mass participation sport, something that was seen as cool and for everyone, not just those smart 'entrepreneurial types in suits' what sorts of things would they be doing? How would our communities change? What would happen to our economy? … [Read more...]

Of Sheds and Shedmen…

My pal Iain Scott has just written a swingeing piece on the problems of the 'inward investment, picking winners and cosying up to large companies' approach that has underwritten governmental approaches to economic development not just here in the UK, but across most of the west, at national, regional and local levels.  An approach that he characterises as being about 'sheds and shedmen'. So how have the 'sheds and shedmen' got such a tight grip on our economic policy and associated investments? Large well organised bodies of professionals make a lot of money from it - architects, planners, developers - they spend fortunes on organised lobbying - just look at the sponsorship of most of the big regeneration conferences - nearly all 'sheds and shedmen'.  Look at MIPIM.  They will not easily give up their market share. Politicians like 'sheds and shedmen' because they give them something to open and point at.  'Look at the lovely building we have delivered, see how it shines, my lovely....' Politicians also like 'sheds and shedmen' because they provide interventions that can fit within an electoral cycle...when you elected me this was  a wasteland...now it has a 'shed'.  More person centred approaches to tackling often … [Read more...]

Social Enterprise and Good Work…Provoked by Craig Dearden-Phillips

Craig Dearden-Phillips wrote an excellent piece on the need to financially incentivise social entrepreneurs. When I read it I was not sure whether I agreed violently or disagreed violently.  Let's just say I 'felt' strongly about it.  It troubled me.  I was provoked.  As I am sure Craig was when he wrote the piece. Schumacher (Fritz, not Michael) helped me to explore the basis of my feelings. He pointed out that from the perspective of the employer, work is a bad thing.  It represents a cost.  It is to be minimised.  If possible eradicated - handed over to a robot.  This truth always makes me smile when the government talks of the private sector 'creating jobs'. From the perspective of the worker too it is  often a bad thing. What Schumacher called a 'disutility'. A temporary but significant sacrifice of 'leisure and comfort' for which compensation is earned. Schumacher pointed toward a Buddhist perspective where work serves three purposes: to provide an opportunity to use and develop potential to join with others in the achievement of a shared task - to provide opportunities for meaningful association to produce the goods and services that are necessary for what he called a 'becoming existence' He then went on … [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...]

Innovation and Enterprise….

Recently I have been reflecting with Imran Ali about the nature of innovation in the city (of Leeds in this case) and how it might be developed.  The assumption being that more and better innovation will be an unalloyed good in a fast changing, dynamic, complex yet very finite environment. Most of the discussion has focussed on some obvious innovation levers that we believe could yield some relatively quick and easy wins, such as: encouraging more innovation across traditional boundaries of department or role seeking applications of technology for social innovation thinking as idealists rather than realists - exploring the art of the possible not just the pragmatic providing 'investment ready' development programmes engaging non traditional sources of funding in the innovation process and so on. But the implicit assumption all of these approaches to innovation is of an innovative elite.  A creative class with the brains, the money (or access to it) and the networks to figure out how to make things significantly better for the rest of us.  Scientists, technologists, financiers, policy makers, politicians, environmentalists, campaigners, entrepreneurs (social and not so social) and academics are all encouraged, … [Read more...]

Crib Sheet for The Entrepreneur’s Workshop

A Crib Sheet Workshops are fascinating and dangerous places. In the right hands they can produce things of great beauty and real lasting value.  In the wrong hands they can do great damage and wreck lives. The entrepreneur’s workshop is no different. True enough; the tools in the entrepreneur’s workshop have no sharp edges, burning fires or high speed drills. The entrepreneur’s tools are a set of ideas, principles, practices and habits that, applied with care and passion, can produce a wonderful lifestyle.  Learn to use these tools properly and they will serve you well. Misuse them and the consequences are likely to include debt, damaged relationships and misery. 10 of the most powerful tools in The Entrepreneur’s Workshop: The Truth Detector – How to decide what might work for you Want to or Have to...? The Double Edged Sword Getting Organised – doing what has to be done, and doing it well Entrepreneur Artisan or Artist? Have, Do, Become... Build a Team OR Do it All – the choice is yours The ‘investment ready’ Business Plan Situational Enterprise – the importance of technique and motivation Towards the Total Quality Enterprise – a tool to decide ‘What’s next?’ For more information contact Mike on 07788 … [Read more...]

Enterprise, Self Interest, Power and Love

I have written before about the potential of representing enterprise (E) as a mathematical equation, and offered this as a starter for 10: Enterprise = Power x Self Interest This week I had a wonderful conversation with Mike Love - who runs Leeds based Together for Peace to explore some of his reservations about my work on community based enterprise and to help me understand some of his perspectives on community as the building block rather than individuals.  Mike is a deep thinker about philosophy, theology and social change and conversations with him are always a delight We discussed the work of Adam Kahane - especially Power and Love - A Theory and Practice of Social Change . Kahane suggests that we need to learn to move forward in a rhythm in which power and love are exercised alternately. This harks back to some ideas that Martin Luther King helped to articulate: Power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about social, political and economic change... There is nothing wrong with power if power is used correctly. You see, what happened is that some of our philosophers got off base. And one of the great problems of history is that the concepts of … [Read more...]

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