Passion for entrepreneurship has inspired us to create Foundum. We believe in entrepreneurs as they have the greatest potential to drive, change and positively influence economies & societies.

Tag: education

How we are being educated out of creativity – 3 ways of finding your Element.

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

At the HSM conference we have attended and written about previously, we have been fascinated by Sir Ken Robinson’s ideas regarding education. We also had the pleasure to meet him personally and receive a nice dedication in his book, The Element. After his talk it was clear that if the education systems around the world followed his suggestions listed below entrepreneurship and business would foster around the world with new creative products and services.

Growing up most of us attended an education system that encouraged certain subjects over others. Usually the math’s, languages, humanities, and sciences were the most important subjects while the arts and sports took a secondary role and many other disciplines were not even considered, for example entrepreneurship. At the end of the day most of the emphasis actually went to the languages and maths. Before the argument goes on there are questions that must be asked; how many of you use the first derivative that you studied in calculus class to create your company? Or, why does the education system strive to offer a “one size fits all suit” to the variety of children and young adults that have such diverse intelligences and interests?

Sir Ken Robinson puts forth some compelling arguments about the need to reform the education system in order to better cater society and engage the students. One of the crucial arguments he makes is that all children are born with imagination and creativity, but as we grow older we get educated out of creativity as we are taught to blend in the crowd and fit in society.

The argument must not be misinterpreted that the education system is useless, or that not going to a school will increase your chances of being creative and come up with the next Google. In fact Google would have never been invented if the two founders hadn’t met each other in one of the best universities in the world (Google Milestones). In addition one must not forget the education system is only part of a child’s education, family and surroundings play a major role.

Sir Ken Robinson does a great job at explaining why and how many have trouble finding what they are good at and what they love doing. If a child grew up not being good at math or languages and always bringing home mediocre scores from school the individual is very likely to have low self-esteem. This will produce an adult with little self-confidence. Such an individual might feel unfit for life and settle for any job in the market. The Element, Sir Ken Robinson’s book, tries to explain how we all have talents that can be developed.

From the many examples that he mentions one that really stands out is Paul McCartney. Apparently he was horrible at school in music class and more than one choir rejected him. Another well known example is Richard Branson who had trouble at school because of his dyslexia and dropped out at age 15.

A few points that the author develops to find your element follow below:

Find your intelligence:
understand that we are all diversely intelligent and find what it is you are intelligent at. Don’t assume that not being great at math means that you are not great at creating a company or making a name for yourself in a new undiscovered field.

we all have it, we just need to challenge the obvious and extend our minds beyond what we have been taught. Unleash your minds from the chains of society!

I get it, I love it, I want it, where is it? Once you understand what is it that you get, something that you love doing then find it, find the opportunity and do it. We have one life and we cannot waste the majority of it doing something we don’t love.

It seems therefore reasonable that another way to express Sir Robinson’s ideas is that we need to be entrepreneurs of our own lives. We need to understand our passion and talent and do something about it. We also have to look at things from a different perspective in order to innovate and we need to take risks. Be an entrepreneur in your own life and go get it!

Have a look at Sir Ken Robinson’s famous talk at TED:

7 Key Learnings on Leadership and Talent Development from the HSM Conference

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

The 25th and 26th of October 2010 the 6th edition of the HSM Global Forum of the Management of People took place in Barcelona. Foundum had the pleasure of being present at this event and listen to some engaging and insightful input that thought leaders had to share. The main theme of the conference was about the nurturing, motivation and management of talent and leadership.  All the speakers had very interesting points to make and this article will highlight the top 7 lessons that Entrepreneurial companies should keep in mind in their various phases of development:

  1. Work doesn’t get done through the HierarchiesPeter Senge, professor at MIT, spoke about studies that have been made regarding how work gets done in companies. The results demonstrated that collaboration within groups of peers in different business functions around the company was how work was being done; therefore laterally and not vertically within the organizational tree. So as a company expands, adding hierarchy doesn’t necessarily create more job being done or efficiency. Creating dynamic teams, workgroups and flexible positions with a flat structure on the other hand could work as it does in Gore.
  2. Leadership development must have a Head, Body & LegsNigel Nicholson, professor at London Business School, went into a deep analysis of leadership development in companies and clearly stated that leadership must be an integral part of the firm. Leadership development should be present in the strategic priority of the company (Head). HR should build in the systems of the company leadership development (Body). Finally managers and executives should “live” the idea and embrace leadership development to seek and improve talent (Legs).
  3. Developing Leadership in a high growth company – A very interesting question was raised to Nigel Nicholson regarding the problem of staying focused on leadership while there is a massive inflow of new talent. The answer was a simple one but hard to implement. In such situations the culture needs to be highly enforced and embraced by the people of the company. In this way, if leadership development is in the “Head” of the company it will stay. According to Nicholson the culture of a firm is the Unique Selling Point to clients, employees and prospective talent.
  4. The importance of Mentors – Nicholson also talked about the three spheres of influence that people within a company have. The company culture, the people around them and the third are the external sources. Nicholson argues that for personal and professional development it is crucial to have someone in the external sphere as a mentor. Mentorship is not only beneficial for the young and upcoming talent, but it can also work in reverse where the pupil mentors the eldest (reverse mentorship).
  5. Ask the right questions – A point that the speakers seemed to have shared was the idea of being able to teach talent how to ask the right questions. Instead of being able to give a good answer, asking the right questions seems to be more important. It is through the right question that solutions are created and problems are solved.
  6. Enabling Imagination – Sir Ken Robinson talked about the importance of imagination and enabling this skill that our mind has. This is what distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom, being able to imagine concepts and things that we cannot feel with our senses. This is what enables vision of the future and development of innovation.
  7. If the conditions are right life is inevitable – Sir Ken Robinson also spoke about the importance of creating the right conditions. The example that was given was about Death Valley in Nevada, USA. Before 2005 this valley was without any form of life, but in 2005 it rained enough to transform the deserted view into a valley of flora. This metaphor was used to explain how important it is for companies to create the right conditions in order to grow talents and leaders and unleash their ideas.

Developing leadership and talent is hard enough in established and well-managed companies, it is even harder in start-ups and companies that are growing quickly from zero. The importance of the people working in the company must not be forgotten; they are the present and the future of the firm.