Project: Babson Entrepreneur Experience Lab

February 8, 2012

in Business Thinking, Interview, Past, Universities & Colleges

I’ve been invited to participate in the Babson Entrepreneur Experience Lab.  The eLab is an, “experimental platform created to transform the face of entrepreneurship in the United States.”  That sounded pretty good to me.  Thanks to Bob Mason for connecting me, and believing I might have something to offer the program.

I’ve included some of the quotes from my work they’ve included on their website.  I’ve also included some of the other content on which we worked.  It was many pages long and I’ll add to this page as I have time.

The eLab describes itself as:

“The Babson Entrepreneur Experience Lab was created to put the voice and the experience of real world entrepreneurs at the center of an ongoing effort to design, develop and experiment with new ways to support entrepreneurs and accelerate new venture creation.”

“The Entrepreneur Experience Lab is working to develop a deep and ongoing understanding of the entrepreneurship experience through the lens of the entrepreneur and use that understanding to create a platform to design and test new entrepreneurship solutions and systems.”

“In its first phase of activity, the Lab team is working with entrepreneurs from every region in the United States to create a first person characterization of the national entrepreneurial experience. This work will help us understand the human and environmental factors most relevant to entrepreneur success and the effectiveness of current development programs and policies and reflect the entrepreneur experience in a manner that illuminates elements of the experience most in need of intervention and innovation.”

Here are a few quotes of mine from their From Stories pages.  I never think of myself as a jargon person but reading a few of my quotes out of context is pretty confusing.

Talking “about the importance of opposition:”

Creative conflict, opposing views, and healthy questioning have all been valuable parts of the Intra process for me. By definition, if there’s not opposition, it’d be difficult to say a project is truly intrapreneurial.

Speaking “about creating a culture of intrapreneurship at his organization:”

I have a very strong desire to help people fulfill their work dreams. This tends to cause trouble; some of my most intense disagreements with Seven’s board of advisors and with other founders of Seven have been regarding my interest in fostering entrepreneurship. It is certainly a double edged sword. On the negative side we are teaching and helping our future competitors. There is also an argument that fostering intrapreneurship requires a lot of resources that don’t have a good return on investment, particularly if the employee leaves to become an “entre” rather than an “intra”. Those are both reasonable concerns – and I believe those views are self fulfilling prophesies. And I don’t think those concerns outweigh the benefits of supporting intrapreneurship – benefits including the “intra” being more connecting to the business, truly appreciating the opportunity for experimentation, fostering a sense of trust, and counter-intuitively engendering a stronger loyalty to the existing business.

Writing “about the benefits of working entrepreurially within an organization:”

I’ve found that the intrapreneurs we’ve “uncovered” often get the best of both worlds by staying Intra – and they seem to know how good they have it. They get to experiment in a safe environment. They get praise and camaraderie; I find that most of [our company’s]Entres find it a fairly lonely world – usually being a startup of one. They don’t have to raise capital. Starvation or living on the street are not part of the risk of failure.

Talking “about building capacity in the employees you have access to:”

Working “only with the best” sounds great, but that’s likely to be a very small team. In many companies the “best” employees, to which you have access, will be a very short list. If you put off being intrapreneurial because you’re surrounded by average employees doing a decent job, then you’re not likely to be intrapreneurial. I certainly wouldn’t let a deficit of bests prevent me from being intrapreneurial. If you can’t find the best, that’s okay; work with the tools you have available.

“Rob never seems to have enough time in his day:”

I typically have dozens of projects going on at once. We work in a very fast paced open door environment where I never seem to have time – take the time – to put one project folder away before the next project folder appears.  [My unofficial title would be] “Chief Taker On Of Too Many Projects with Too Little Time and Not Enough Ability” or “Director of Believing There Are 42 Hours in a Day.”


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