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BW Businessworld

Entrepreneurship Is A Way Of Thinking

Universities themselves have become entrepreneurial, designing the coursework that is needed to nurture the business leaders of the future

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Entrepreneurship is a way of thinking. It can also be considered as a way of leading. Universities the world over have incorporated entrepreneurship into their curriculums. They have crafted courses, both undergraduate and graduate to herald the new demand for entrepreneurs. Universities themselves have become entrepreneurial, designing the coursework that is needed to nurture the business leaders of the future. No longer does one need to “drop out of Harvard” to pursue one’s passion and start up a business under the house. No longer does one need to be alone in an isolated world to succeed in business or lead corporations. Prominent companies such as Google are seeking graduates who are entrepreneurial in thought who can think outside the box and bring innovative solutions to the VUCA world.

VUCA is the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world we live in today. And the entrepreneurial mind set has historically taken the risks necessary to tackle the difficult social and business problems faced in today’s society. What more, it is no longer singular in solution or authoritative in nature. The ambiguity of the problems facing leaders today call for innovative thinkers. These wicked problems include natural disasters, global climate change, nuclear energy, food waste solutions, healthcare, pandemic influenza, drug trafficking and social injustice. It calls for all the resources known to entrepreneurs. The ability to be resilient, form teams, have different perspectives, take risks, future orientate, be authentic, compassionate, need people, be resourceful - the entrepreneurial skills are priceless. This is what is sought by global business leaders today.

The World Economic Forum, WEF identifies 10 skills needed by 2020 to survive the Fourth Industrial Revolution 4.0. These are cognitive flexibility, negotiation, emotional intelligence, creativity, service orientation, judgement/decision making, coordinating with others, people management, critical thinking and complex problem-solving. These are the traits of our great entrepreneurs. Universities are open for business and currently teaching these characteristics in their entrepreneurship courses. The 2 new skills that replaced the 2015 WEFlist are cognitive flexibility and emotional intelligence. In today’s world of complexity, ambiguity, volatility and uncertainty, leadership requires the ability to expand the mind. It is no longer sufficient to be financially intelligent. Today’s leaders require emotional intelligence, social intelligence, cultural intelligence, religious intelligence and tolerance. This neurology is well documented in the literature.

Neuroscience has been able to map the brain as never before. We now have a greater understanding of which parts of the brain are utilised in different situations. The brain is made up of 86 billion neurons specialising in the transmission of information to all parts of our body. The neurons receive and send messages instantly. As blood rushes around the brain, neurons light up (fire together) so that neuroscientists are able to identify which part of the brain is being utilised. We have come to understand the theory of the whole brain which is made up of 5 brains - the reptilian brain (primitive), the heart brain (connection), the limbic brain (emotion), the neocortex (language/reasoning) and the prefrontal cortex (executive brain). 

Traditionally, universities have been in the business of developing the intellectual or knowledge brain (neocortex). To perform well, academically, graduateswere paper smart and excelled in reasoning. Universities issued degrees that certified a student’s ability to master the world from a textbook or on theoretically. Today’s universities have evolved to graduate competent, work smart graduates and business schools as well as schools in engineering, medicine, healthcare, architecture, social and urban planning have innovated courses to go beyond the textbook. Undergraduate programs are producing design thinking creative graduates to lead their industry using whole brain development. The executive brain allows for higher level thinking and coordinates the whole brain. When leaders are predominately operating from their primitive brain, they are more likely to be reactive, criticizing, dictating, limiting and judging. When they are able to train their higher brain through education, meditation and self-awareness, they are more likely to be expansive, appreciative, imaginative, inclusive and collaborative. The other brains help with social and emotional intelligence. Entrepreneurship develops whole brain thinking and has ignited business schools to go beyond the textbooks. Universities are not just teaching the knowledge of entrepreneurship. They are teaching leaders how to be entrepreneurial thinkers.

So education has become radically disrupted. Leaders are being transformed. Mass production is no longer the key. Higher education has entered the era of learning analytics. It has become personalised, creative, critical and cognitively flexible nurturing the ground for innovative thinkers for the future. Individuals who are authentic, collaborative, socially engaging, emotionally developed and inspirational. New technologies such as artificial intelligence AI, the internet of things IoT, brain computer interfaces BCI, virtual reality and deep learning have provided new opportunities for universities to develop graduates in entrepreneurial thinking. Society no longer needs to accumulate and memorise knowledge. Computers can do this faster, longer and more efficiently than the human brain. We need to develop the traits of humanity that are not already surpassed by AI.

Entrepreneurship is more than a noun or descriptive way of business. It is a frontier expanding global consciousness. Entrepreneurship has reinvigorated university curriculum. Faculties operate less in silos. It is creating the next generation of global leaders who are able to connect the dots in a transdisciplinary way. It has ignited whole brainthinking and energetically connected ourselves and others. Entrepreneurs know no borders in nurturing the ground for growing theglobal leaders of tomorrow.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Dr Marion Igarashi

The author is the Dean of Undergraduate Programs - S P Jain School of Global Management

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