In Praise of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems..
In Praise of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems..
of course, we need to understand what they are, eh?
Here is Lyon, France for the World Entrepreneurship Forum - what a blast! A global group of entrepreneurs, policy makers, academics and even some students to explore how to really make entrepreneurial economies move forward. (There are also some A+ experts on entrepreneurship education too like Alain Fayolle, Colin Jones, et al.) The perfect mix of rock stars and worker bees to really push this agenda forward!
For those of you who heard Brad Feld speak earlier this month in Boise, the key imperatives will sound very familiar.
We got a nice overview of the concept, including a new initiative to spur mapping of local ecosystems (something that Idaho would profit from immensely -want to know how to do it brilliiantly? Read on!) We also got some excellent case studies from across the globe.
The WEF hallmark is setting up mini-thinktanks, each with a motley crew of experts. My first team included civic officials from Warsaw and Lyon, a brainiac IT entrepreneur from India, a workforce developer from Namibia and me... Incredibly productive team that I was proud to be part of.
My second team was, if anything, even more diverse and even more productive. (We came up with a diagram for ecosystem analysis that blew everyone's mind - I was facilitator but it was the team that made this happen (I just hung on for dear life, LOL but it's great to play facilitator & not 'expert'!)
The "Tao of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems" [http://pic.twitter.com/YV0XALi1 ] is already getting global attention.. and we designed it in 30-40 minutes. Looks a little eccentric? But it is powerhouse - Very proud of my team!
Before WEF, I spent 9 days at Aalto University in Helsinki - this school is essentially 2 years old and has already begun revolutionizing Finland's entrepreneurial ecosystem. More on that in future posts, but suffice to say... WOW! Much to steal, er, adapt.)
And before that, the International Council for Small Business held its fall public policy research conference where I got to share my "markers of a healthy ecosystem" whitepaper [http://bit.ly/EcoSys] and heard some incredible intel on growing a more entrepreneurial economy. Again, more to follow in a separate post.
(And before ICSB, I spent a couple days at the amazing National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship [NACCE.com] where I lead a workshop on ecosystem development -terrific feedback/intel from attendees there too.]
So what the heck can we take away from all these? Let me focus on WEF..
Entrepreneurship Education - the revolution in entrepreneurial learning isn't coming.. it is HERE. We need to be on board ASAP.
To be remotely effective, it requires being deeply, deeply transformational. That means truly experiential learning and that is NOT easy to do, let alone do well. In particular, the key to this is deep immersion in the community. More important, the immersion must be two-way. Co-immersion where the community is as deeply immersed in the learning environment as the learners are immersed in the ecosystem.
Action Item for Idaho: Start deploying bleeding-edge entrepreneurial learning NOW. Start the co-immersion NOW.
Ecosystem "101": See "co-immersion". We need to map where we are (but NOT a static map -> instead, capture the dynamics) and where we want to go (that means we need to go ask the entrepreneurial community; do not rely on the "name" people and institutions*) then align your resources based on who adds the most value (not on past activities or preferences).
Did I mention "co-immersion"?
Action Item for Idaho: Bring together the core group of people who really want to grow a more entrepreneurial Idaho AND have the 'right stuff' NOW (that is: Are they competent? Honorable? Connected locally? Connected nationally?? If they fit all four (or maybe 3?) then those are the "must-have' people at the table to get this started. Fortunately, that list is longer for Idaho than you might think! :)
So... ready to get busy? NOW???
I've found a few people with the right stuff who are ready to roll on this... and some of you WILL be recruited! :)
Entrepreneur Up, folks!