Entrepreneurial Framework for Resilience
you read Brad Feld's Startup
Communities**? (DEFRAG meets all
4 of his factors)
“Get the right people on the bus in the right
seats. Get the right people on and the wrong people off.” –
“Make sure you really know
where the bus is starting and where it’s going.” - Norris
There are so many people who have inspired and encouraged this work - Peter Vogel and some great new friends at the World Entrepreneurship Forum, ICSB/USASBE/NCIIA and Academy colleagues, friends in economic development and most assuredly from the entrepreneurial community worldwide... you know who you are. Thanks. The fact this works is a credit to you!
how to fix your ecosystem…. BADLY
A healthy entrepreneurial
ecosystem has multiple characteristics that are markers of how it’s growing or
not. If you look at http://bit.ly/EcoSys you’ll
see a lengthy list but Brad Feld’s book points out some key pathologies, so let’s
start with the four key “Brad Feld Discoveries”
bfd1. Is the defragging of the ecosystem being led
by people who actually understand entrepreneurs? Especially led by the entrepreneurial
community itself? Or by... VIPs?
(Or are there self-styled experts who don’t ‘get’ the
entrepreneurial mindset? The most frequent version of this is bringing together
the key institutions, the ‘power players’ –are the power players helping the
entrepreneurial community implement their vision or are they dictating it, even
Are the efforts inclusive? Is there something for different types of entrepreneurs? We need entrepreneurial thinking to blossom all through the ecosystem. In
different industries (high tech and low tech), in different locations (urban
and rural) in different strategies (high-growth and low-growth), in
different life cycle stages, even for small, medium and large firms? Nonprofits/social ventures? Public sector? (Well, we can dream, eh?)
Is there a rallying point where everyone can look to?
This can take many forms but a good place to start is simply twofold:
The Bully Pulpit: Is the entrepreneurial ‘gospel’
being preached all through the ecosystem?
Strategy not Tactics: There actually IS a cohesive
strategy, a comprehensive framework to help guide bottom-up efforts? (Or is
there an emphasis on thinking up cool tactics that are sexy and have worked
elsewhere but need not fit what the ecosystem really needs?)
bfd4. Are you willing to embrace that this is a
long-term proposition? No matter how brilliant we might be now, it will
likely be decades before we are really rolling. Again, do you have a cohesive,
comprehensive strategy for entrepreneurship development? (a/k/a “Comprehensive
Entrepreneurship Development System” to ‘fly cover’ for and support bottom-up
efforts.) Or is there no committed strategy that we can hold our leaders to?
few other pathologies of note before we dive in…
are COMPLICATED! We need to be sure that we consider the dynamics – what are the trends? How is
Dynamically? Or are you just making lists of all the participants in the
ecosystem? A Remember: what really matters are the INtangible elements of the ecosystem, not tangible.
The Global Entrepreneurship
Monitor data tells us that over time and across countries, there are two predictors of increased entrepreneurial
activity. These are the basis of the FIRE
model of entrepreneurial development used across the globe:
Entrepreneurial Human Capital: How many have the
Foster the entrepreneurial mindset broadly & deeply
Inspire the next generation of ideas
Entrepreneurial Social Capital: How interconnected
is the ecosystem and how well does it support entrepreneurial learning?
Revitalize (Entrepreneurialize!) Communities and Organizations
Enhance and Encourage the Connectors
Processes: Similarly, do we have the right processes in place?B
Healthy ecosystems have great processes that tend to be completely unlike what
99% of communities do. If you are not frightening your mayor, you are failing.
Sorry, but bureaucratic mechanisms do NOT generate entrepreneurial outcomes.
People: Start with the people who really get the expert
entrepreneurial mindset. If they aren’t a great entrepreneur, they better be pretty
special. The 3 C’s: Are they…
mission-critical ecosystem tasks
[being really good isn’t enough, are they the best at
locally, yes, but have access to national/global resources/intel
is often a great marker of competence.. what do the nation’s best think?]
have you ever screwed over someone, played silly turf games?
[defragging the ecosystem means that roles will change
significantly and job titles, mission statements, history and personal
preferences mean nothing. At the outset, we need to keep the wrong people off
the bus and these definitely qualify.
gets to be on the bus. Brad points out inclusivity is pretty much mandatory.]
developers have long known that you start with what you have and quit worrying
about what you don’t have (if you really need something, it will be evident.)
You Know What You Really, Really Want? And by “you”, I mean the
entrepreneurial community, not those who are telling you what they think you
More Amateur Night: Experts not "experts." The world needs smart, passionate amateurs.
But not driving the bus. An example…
or Implementation? In entrepreneurship, in technology
commercialization, and here, there’s a dirty little secret: Good ideas are a
dime a dozen. Even in rural Kazakhstan, you can find great ideas. What is
scarce and what adds 90%+ of the value? Implementers. Even Silicon Valley sees
a shortage of people who can execute.
Corollary: Until you have a comprehensive strategy
and until you have mapped the cosystem and held your listening sessions,
brainstorming can be pointless, premature and (worse) distracting from the key
tasks at hand.
So….. what ARE the key tasks for defragging a local
ecosystem? Not just Idaho, but anywhere?
Ecosystems' #1 Problem? (including Idaho??)
Resources are simply not well-aligned to the key tasks at
hand (duplication, gaps, and especially misdeployment, etc.)
Jim Collins: Progress
requires "getting the right people on the bus... and in the right
seats." This is the “right seats”
part of the equation.
Getting the right people in the right seats... hard
Getting the right people onboard in the first place....
Getting wrong people OFF the bus (for now)... hardest of
[far easier to initially keep them off the
But before we can really do
this, we need to better understand where the ‘bus’ is going…
Ecosystems' #2 Problem? (including Idaho??)
If we’re trying to get from ‘A’ to ‘B’, wouldn’t it help
to understand ‘A’ and ‘B’?
We need to thoroughly
understand where we are now (mapping and metrics)
We also need a deep, rich understanding
of where the entrepreneurial community wants to go.
We know proven practices to
get from Point A to Point B
But we don't really know
So shouldn’t we immediately get busy and….
* We need to really map
where we are (A) and
* We need to listen to the
entrepreneurial community in person (B)
So what do we need to do
Let's really map out our 'Point A' (current ecosystem)
really understand what the entrepreneurial community wants (Point B)
DEFRAG Initiative: Key Tasks
Task #1: Identify* / Convene "A Team"
(competent, collaborative, connected locally, connected
Professional, inclusive; p.s. local
"A Team" already identified
Task #2a: A-Team to Align Resources to Key Tasks/Tactics
(distinctive competences not core competences)
Task #2b: A-Team to Map Ecosystem (Point A, Point B)
conditions – use Peter Vogel’s ecosystem instrument
Assess current processes/trends – ecosystem markers (bit.ly/EcoSys)
Large-sample surveys of entrepreneurial community (N>2,000?)
Use surveys to assess perceptions of
Build map using the above plus Isenberg’s 6-fold typology
Task #2c: Listening Sessions with Entrepreneurial Community
inclusive, bottom-up (“entrepreneurs only”)
Appreciative inquiry tools plus asset-based ec dev tools
Role model: NCRE
Rural Entrepreneurship Listening Sessions [link?]
I started out with all the
things that we must and must not do… but I think they are mostly common sense
once you embrace the complexity and dynamics and interconnectivity of
entrepreneurial ecosystems (and all the people and organizations caught up in
it, making it happen!) A few vested interests will be annoyed but… this IS
Basically, we need an
overarching strategic framework that doesn’t dictate but does facilitate
bottom-up initiatives. One that provides both ‘cover’ and commitment to the initiatives.
Molding entrepreneurial champions is a lot like molding entrepreneurs. The
DEFRAG model includes such a framework, simple and comprehensive (the FIRE
A” to “Point B”: Healthy ecosystems have a pretty good,
shared sense of where they are and where they want to go. Most communities have
either no map, multiple maps or a crappy map. (Let’s be different, ok?)
Likewise, even fewer communities have actually listened to the entrepreneurial
community. Vox Entrepreneurii? Let’s
do that too.
(distinctive competence not core competence:
In healthy local economies, the support activities are done by those who add the
most value. It may not be what they’re best at and pretty likely not what they
wanted to do, but it IS where they make the biggest difference for the
ecosystem. We need the “A Team” for that but more important, we need this led
by organizations that are clearly neutral-turf, fair-broker (no enemies,
plenty of friends). We’ve already started on this too.
Remember: We have the tools, proven globally. We have the "A team" identified. But it won't be easy.
(check the 3 C’s above)
A to capture interconnectivity/dynamics
Key Elements of the Ecosystem to
who is getting people together...proactively?
who are gatekeepers for key resources?
who is keeping track of how we're doing?
who's out there that actually understands all this?
B 5 focus areas for ecosystem
processes: Policy Formulation; Networking & Collaboration; Entrepreneurial
Human Capital; Communication; Governance / Leadership
C Isenberg’s ecosystem map has
6 key participant categories (static but helpful)
not, why not? Cheap on Amazon/B&N!