I recently started the Developing Innovative Ideas For New Companies: The First Step of Entrepreneurship course by Dr. James V. Green of University of Maryland. My interest in the course beyond basic entrepreneurship is to assist in refining my ability to generate new ideas. I have co-founded new ventures but am not usually the single source of an idea that has grown into a business with a repeatable business model. This course focuses on idea generation and the analysis of ideas so this was of great interest to me as I viewed it as an opportunity to refine my idea generation skills.
I am just beginning the third week of lecture material and have read seven chapters of Dr. Green’s book The Opportunity Analysis Canvas. So far I am impressed by both the course material and the book. Much more than simply a course on starting a business, Dr. Green captures the essence of entrepreneurship. Thus far within the course we have covered the entrepreneurial mindset, entrepreneurial motivation, the entrepreneur’s perception of risk, among many other entrepreneurial topic.
Perhaps my favorite thing about this course is the treatment of the entrepreneur as a unique type of individual. Many entrepreneurship courses are designed with the idea of a typical individual or former employee starting a business. Although there is some truth to this it really doesn’t capture the essence of what in my mind is true entrepreneurship. More than simply deciding one day to go into business for oneself, the true entrepreneur creates a new idea from nothing, starting with a blank piece of paper, white board, or computer terminal.
Therein lies the first challenge of entrepreneurship – what to do when a blank canvas is staring you in the face.
The first couple sessions have focused on analysis of the entrepreneur. What does it take to be an entrepreneur? What drives the entrepreneur? What goes on within the mind of the entrepreneur? Why is the entrepreneur more willing to engage in entrepreneurship when others with a more traditional mindset will not?
Many of the items covered in this book and within the course are things I wish I would have known when I started down the entrepreneurial path. Something else I have really enjoyed are the analyses within the text. Each discussion on the traits of the entrepreneur is accompanied by an individual analysis. Each analysis will provide you with an indication of where you fall in regards to the individual entrepreneurial trait.
Here are a couple of other items that I found intriguing so far. The first is a diagram describing the relationship between creativity, innovation, and invention. As shown each has an overlap. Creativity is required to both invent and innovate. A product may be inventive (or new) but not necessarily innovative (useful).
The next item is in regards to perception. The following slide shows a person that appears to be going up a flight of stairs.
Only to show that when one looks from an outside perspective the individual is basically traveling in a circle, thus indicating the importance of perspective, knowing where you are headed and where you are at.
Beyond the lecture the preceding slide also reminded me of the doom loop concept and the value of consultants. Entrepreneurs can sometimes be caught in a doom loop when they are stuck and just continue doing the same thing over and over again. It appears to the entrepreneur that they are making progress but they are really just repeating the same process over and over again, for example creating new products but not addressing sales.
The external perspective aspect also reminds me of consultants and how they bring a unique perspective to a problem. Because they are viewing the activities of the entrepreneur (and therefore the business) from the outside, they are able to view the organization and accompanying challenges with a unique perspective.