Saturday, 01 September 2012 14:16

Entrepreneurship as a management tool?

Business owners and managers are working longer hours these days in the face of mounting competition, trying to achieve superior results in a constantly changing environment. Many of them consider entrepreneurship as some elusive strategy that moves the billion-dollar idea from the pizza parlor to the IPO. In other words, says Mark Hauserman, how does this affect me?

Smart Business spoke with Hauserman, director of the Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurship at John Carroll University, about things to consider when determining your strategy.

What is the first thing to consider?

People often believe that entrepreneurship is the province of the young and gifted, particularly when it comes to intellectual property. However, the average age of the successful start-up entrepreneur is 38. If you think that seems old, consider that a recent study by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation says that ‘in every single year from 1996 to 2007, Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 had a higher rate of entrepreneurial activity than those aged 20-34.’ This is also supported by the findings of Charles Eesley and Edward B. Roberts in their study titled ‘Entrepreneurial Impact: The role of M.I.T.’’

Would you rather have a bright idea or experience?

Experience will win out every time. Good ideas come mostly from people who have experience. Jay Brand, Ph.D., an expert on creativity, supports Malcolm Gladwell’s (Outlier,s Brown, Little & Company 2008) thesis that 10,000 hours of experience is the best preparation for achieving that ‘breakthrough’ result. Follow the money. Few venture capitalists invest in ideas; instead, they invest in people, and the best ideas are nearly always backed by experience.

Is entrepreneurship a learned behavior or the result of natural selection?

The question we are most asked in the academic environment is, ‘Can entrepreneurship be taught?’ The fundamental building blocks of entrepreneurship can definitely be learned. A working definition we use for entrepreneurship is ‘seeing an opportunity that others did not see, and taking action.’ Long before entrepreneurship became a buzzword, our institution was churning out successful private sector business owners. In the five counties surrounding Cleveland, there are more than 500 companies owned or run by our graduates. How did we do it? By leveraging a 125-year history of teaching students to think critically, one of the hallmarks of Jesuit education, and a building block of entrepreneurship.

What is the role of change in your business and how do you use it to your advantage?

At a recent meeting, I asked successful business owners to raise their hands if they were doing the same thing they did five years ago. As you might expect, no hands went up. So how do you get out in front of change? A key element is opportunity recognition, fostered by your experience. There are few people who have the experience you have and who know more about your business than you do.

The first two courses in our entrepreneurship program are Creativity, Invention and Innovation and Idea Development. Freshmen and sophomore college students usually don’t know enough to realize that their crazy idea just might work. We encourage them to think of solutions to problems they see right in front of them. One instructor uses the ‘bug list,’ asking students to walk around the campus and come back with five to 10 things that bug them. Then they are asked how they would solve the problem. Do your customer service people know what bugs your customer? Do you have a way to mine these nuggets?

Remember that profound change is often incremental. You do not have to turn your business upside down to leverage your team’s great ideas. By the way, the student idea is rarely ready for prime time. This is where your best, most experienced associates need to weigh in.

Tips to help you create a good environment for this strategy:

  • Don’t have functional fixedness; if you spend too long on a single problem, all solutions may start to look the same.

  • Avoid surveillance while working, Micromanagement will kill most good ideas.

  • Don’t constrain your own choices, for example, ‘The budget will not support it.’

  • Don’t predetermine the result by your method of evaluation.

  • Don’t do what the competition does. They might be good, but they don’t know everything.

Mark Hauserman is the director of the Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurship at John Carroll. His undergraduate degree in business administration is from John Carroll and he is a Beta Gamma Sigma graduate of the M.B.A. program at Indiana University. Hauserman joined his family’s business, the E.F. Hauserman Co., in 1974 as a member of the corporate financial staff. After transferring to sales, he held a series of positions of increasing responsibility in both sales and sales management, working in Atlanta, Ga.; Rochester, N.Y.; and Cleveland, Ohio. In 1984, he bought a subsidiary, Decorative Veneer, from the company. In the 1980s and 1990s, he helped to develop a diverse group of smaller companies in information management, consumer marketing, office furniture and coating technologies by assembling the management teams and providing strategic direction and capital. He has now divested his ownership of these companies. In October 2004, he was hired as the executive director of the Entrepreneurs Association at John Carroll University and in 2006 he became the director of the Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurship.

John Carroll students are given many opportunities to develop their entrepreneurial talents through the University’s Edward M. Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurship. The university’s multidisciplinary program can help open doors for students who gain entrepreneurship skills and knowledge from both business and liberal arts faculty, and through hands-on experiences with ‘real life’ entrepreneurs who are members of the university’s Entrepreneurs Association that also volunteer to coach John Carroll students. John Carroll’s entrepreneurship program has been recognized by Bloomberg Businessweek as the 18th best program in the nation and the best undergraduate entrepreneurship program in Ohio. This marks the second consecutive year JCU has made the list; the program rocketed from 43rd in the nation last year.

Visit www.jcu.edu/muldoon for more information.

Insights Executive Education is brought to you by John Carroll University.

Published in Cleveland

Fast forward to the day you step down from your post. How will you be remembered by those left to continue the work? Will your name be thought of fondly, or will people be cheering your departure?

A leader’s legacy depends on how those who follow think about leadership. Likewise, it depends on what they value in a leader. Like an Olympic athlete, your job is to make the most difficult of tasks look easy and graceful. At least that’s what people want, but this is a tall order, says Scott Allen, Ph.D., assistant professor of management, Department of Management, Marketing and Logistics, Boler School of Business, John Carroll University.

“On what are you being judged?” says Allen. “In actuality, leadership is in the eye of the beholder. However, there are some leaders who rise above the rest and truly stand out. This is not magic, nor are people born with it. It boils down to five core elements, which make up a ‘leadership scorecard’ of sorts. Great leaders – the Olympians – have succeeded in five core areas, which I call the 5 Ps: personal attributes, position, purpose, processes and product.”

Smart Business spoke with Allen about the 5 Ps and the best practices of leaders.

What are the personal attributes of a leader’s scorecard?

These are your traits, knowledge, values, skills and abilities. Are you credible? Ethical? Trustworthy? Intelligent? A ‘no’ on any of these will be a difficult pill for many to swallow. People may not know what you know, but they know how you make them feel. So in many ways, personal attributes are all about what you bring to the role. Of course, each one of us brings great strengths and areas for development. The question is, do you have an eye on both, and who is providing you with unfiltered feedback?

How do you use the position of leader?

Is your power used to develop and build others? Or are you perceived as an individual who hoards his or her information and power? Likewise, do you use the position and your authority in a consistent manner, or do you play favorites, lack consistency and abuse your discretion?

How does the leader’s purpose answer the question, ‘Leadership for what?’

Leaders are clearly aligned around a cause or purpose and influence others to follow. Another way to think about purpose is strategy. Is your vision and the strategy behind it one that motivates and resonates with others? Some leaders inspire a shared vision and have the ability to manage that vision into reality. Others fail to inspire the troops. Think about the last time you spoke to, the masses – did they leave energized? Did you?

What practices/processes does a leader use?

The practices/processes of leadership describe how you achieve your purpose and how you move the group, organization, or community from point A to point B. For instance, is your style a democratic one where many feel a part of the endeavor, or is it coercive and autocratic?

What is the end product?

Some wonder if the success or failure of the leader can be determined prior to knowing the final result. In the end, people will determine if they feel that they are better off because of your efforts. Has your time been filled with growth, innovation, and exciting ventures? Or, have your efforts failed to achieve desired results?

Why do all five Ps matter in leadership?

As a leader, you and your senior team need to have an eye on each one of these items. You may have great success and three of the five, but fail in two, and the result is that you are not perceived as a strong leader or leadership team. For instance, you could have the first four Ps in place but lack results and suddenly your job is in jeopardy. Likewise, you could have the last four Ps in place but be perceived as unethical, untrustworthy, and unapproachable. Again, your legacy is tarnished. Just think of all the CEOs and politicians who struggled with one or more of the 5 Ps. Who stands out from your own career? Who did all five well? Who did not and how did it impact their career?

How do you better manage your legacy and ensure that each of the 5 Ps are well balanced?

First, have the 5 Ps on your radar and critically analyze your current state. How are you perceived, how do you use your position, how do you inspire a vision, and do you have systems in place to ensure results? An open and honest conversation between you and your team will likely reveal a great deal. If this culture does not exist, build it.

Next, develop outlets and access to unfiltered feedback. You may not always agree with the feedback you hear, but at least you have a pulse on how you, your vision and your team are perceived. If you are viewed as a person open to positive and negative feedback, you will have access to more information. However, if you are perceived as a person who holds grudges, or responds negatively or even abrasively, then it is likely people will avoid sharing information and honest feedback.

Finally, implementing a simple continuous improvement cycle where you and your team can receive feedback/coaching, gauge progress, identify gaps, and then adjust can take you to the next level of leadership.

Monitoring the 5 Ps will create buyin for your vision, develop trust in you as a leader, ignite employee enthusiasm and productivity, solidify your legacy as a leader and create a system of continuous leadership improvement within your organization. Leaders have a responsibility to help create a culture that is engaging, innovative, and productive. Isn’t that where you would like to work?

Scott Allen, Ph.D., is assistant professor of Management, Department of Management, Marketing, and Logistics, Boler School of Business at John Carroll University. Reach him at sallen@jcu.edu.

Published in Cleveland

“What is it that makes budgeting for marketing so much more difficult now than it used to be?” James H. Martin, Associate Dean, Director of Graduate Business Programs and Professor of Marketing at John Carroll University, has been hearing this question a lot lately. To learn more, he spoke with a panel of experts including Sara Stashower, Visiting Professor at John Carroll University; Jason Therrien, CEO at Thundertech; and Tom Bernot,CMO at Optiem. All three had similar perspectives on this problem. They all said that there is a fundamental shift in thinking about marketing from the traditional view to a new perspective, but not all companies have made the shift yet.

Smart Business learned more from Martin about their collective insight.

What is the traditional view?

The traditional view of marketing communications has the primary objective of pushing out a non-interactive campaign message that gives the marketer total control over the communication process. This happens in three basic steps:

  • First, you create a campaign message you think your target market ought to hear.
  • Second, you select those media that will allow you to tell that message to the most people in your target market at the lowest cost per impression.
  • Third, you evaluate the success of the campaign based on changes in sales (or awareness levels, or knowledge, or brand attractiveness, etc.).

Because technology has added what seems like a tidal wave of options for media and performance metrics, the task of allocating a marketing budget across communication channels has exponentially increased in complexity.

From this view, allocating marketing resources has become a much more complicated problem simply because there are so many more options from which to choose.

Is there a better way to think about it?

The traditional view of marketing is based on the premise that communication is a controlled one-way process and media represent efficient mechanisms to get the message out. Unfortunately, this frames the problem in a way that doesn’t match the real value of the new media. You need to re-frame your strategic thinking from the traditional view of marketing communications to a new way of looking at the problem.

This new view has an entirely different premise regarding marketing communications. The new approach is based on developing opportunities for conversations with your customers on topics that are important to them and that you can contribute to because of what you do. Engaging your customers in conversations brings them closer to you. It builds trust and confidence in your brand. It creates an affinity to you that the old approach simply cannot accomplish. And that’s the real value with the new media.

But, to do this well means you have to want to talk with your customers, not at them. You must want two-way communication. You provide your expertise and they provide their input. It's about which media are the best conduits for those conversations, not which media are the best at pushing your message to your customers. This is not just a different way of saying the same thing. This is a different way of thinking.

How do you know what conversations to have?

In which conversations you engage depends entirely on who you are and on who your customers are. But, here are some pointers. Start with your expertise. Then think about who your customers are and what they want to know about.

Having trouble figuring out what your customers want to know about? Whether your customers are OEMs, suppliers, distributors, retailers or consumers, customers want to know about things that will improve their lives. They want to know how to experience less uncertainty, they want things to be easier, they want problems solved, they want to be healthy, they want to grow as a person or as a company, they want to feel connected to others, they want to feel like they are part of something important, they want a life fulfilled, they want to understand, they want to feel like they can make a difference, they want fewer hassles, they want job security, they want to do their job better, they want to be successful, they want to be entertained, they want to learn...

Conversation topics are limitless. As a company, you have expertise. How can you use this expertise to add to any of these conversations?

How do you have these conversations?

This question has a different flavor from the traditional question of how to allocate budget across media. The question is now about the best venue for creating a conversation and how to connect across media to engage and continue the conversation. The answer is a function of what conversation you are having and with whom you are having it. You want to construct a network of conversations that engage your customers in a way that builds affinity with you and your brand. The result of this engagement is that customers will want to go to your website for your expertise.

Ultimately, marketing communications is about sales, but the more direct question now is about the effectiveness of the conversations you have with your customers. Engaging customers with content that matters to them and inviting them to participate in that content will bring your customers closer to you.

James Martin, Ph.D., is Associate Dean and Professor of Marketing, Boler School of Business, John Carroll University. Reach him at jhmartin@jcu.edu.

Published in Cleveland

Pick up the newspaper these days and serious economic turmoil, widespread political unrest and, frankly, just some weird weather patterns are pervasive.

How do you prepare your organization for the future when confronted with the challenge of perpetual doubt about how that future is going to look? How do you lead your organization when the path ahead is so uncertain? Your work force is one of your best hedges against an uncertain future, but it has to be developed into a resilient, adaptive and creative problem-solving team.

Although it is tempting to pull back from employee development efforts to reduce costs during periods of high economic uncertainty, investing now in your employees will have a big payoff down the road.

Smart Business spoke with Scott Allen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Management, Boler School of Business at John Carroll University, about how developing employees puts businesses ahead of the competition during any economy.

So where do you start?

First, preparing your work force for the future means you have to think differently about your employees. Every employee should be seen as a potential leader on any given day, which means developing leadership capabilities in each of them. Sending employees back to school, providing on-site training, or providing in-practice development opportunities become important mechanisms for developing the kind of work force you need.

Although it’s tempting to look at these mechanisms as costs that can be cut, these should be seen as opportunities to invest in a resource that can protect your organization from the economic and political stormfront you are faced with today. Second, as an expert in leadership development, I suggest four primary areas for developing a team-oriented culture in an organization: 1) skill building, 2) personal growth, 3) feedback opportunities and 4) conceptual understanding.

What are the future skills needed for a resilient and adaptive problem-solving team?

In addition to the obvious functional business knowledge and industry-specific content knowledge, the following skill sets are high on the list of just about every leadership development expert.

Communication Communication is always critical in an organization. As technology continues to change the way we can communicate, people in a team-oriented organization will have to be versatile and effective in every communication medium.

Analytics There are mountains of data available to everyone in an organization and the quantity of data available will increase in the future. The ability to translate data into usable information will create a work force that will mean the difference between being able to adapt to a rapidly changing environment and being left behind.

Language and culture Developing among your employees the skills and sensitivity for successfully working with people from other countries and cultures will substantially increase your organization’s effectiveness moving upstream or downstream in supply chains of the future.

Creativity and innovative problem-solving Economic hard times and global uncertainties produce myriad challenges for finding growth and sources of increased efficiencies. Once the ‘low-hanging fruit’ is gone, companies that have developed a culture of creativity and innovative thinking among employees will continue to grow and prosper through better problem-solving.

How can an organization enhance personal growth?

In our book, ‘The Little Book of Leadership Development: 50 Ways to Bring out the Leader in Every Employee’ (Scott Allen & Mitchell Kusy), we discuss leadership development in the new economy — leadership development that aligns with the flow of the organization and not against it. This approach develops leadership ability in real time while real projects are being completed. Creating a resilient organization in this economy means innovatively developing the next generation of corporate leaders on a dime, and on the fly. For personal growth, the trick is helping front line managers build a system of continual development that takes individuals and their team to the next level each and every day.

Think about your own organization for a moment. Are managers intentionally assigning their team members with challenging assignments, giving them opportunities for the personal growth that is essential for being able to adapt to changing environments? Each employee needs assignments, tasks and activities that take their knowledge, skills and abilities to new levels.

Where is the payoff for creating ongoing feedback opportunities for employees?

Consider the struggle your employees face when deciding what to behaviors to practice or what skills to develop. Are your people practicing the right stuff? Providing real time feedback means getting your employees where they need to be faster. Also, if you want employees to develop and grow, then the feedback should be provided in a way that encourages reflection. Just as football players watch videos of the game and the Army conducts After Action Reviews upon completing a drill, are there ‘de-briefing’ sessions that connect the dots, make sense of failures and celebrate the wins? If not, a learning opportunity has been missed.

What is meant by conceptual understanding?

Part of being resilient and adaptive requires a ‘big picture’ view. Too often, we define jobs as a set of tasks and then set the employee to work on those tasks. A resilient and creative team will need to see where their work fits in the bigger picture for the organization. Employees need to see how everything fits together. Companies who provide this ‘big picture’ find that their employees are a tremendous resource for problem solving during critical challenges.

Scott Allen, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Management, Boler School of Business at John Carroll University. Reach him at scott@cldmail.com.

Published in Cleveland
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