Ants and Lions in Entrepreneurship

Ants and Lions in Entrepreneurship

What They Don’t Teach in Business School about Entrepreneurship – YouTube

This is from the Stanford School of Business, a panel discussion from the 2010 Conference on Entrepreneurship. This video is deliciously titled “What they don’t teach you in Business School about Entrepreneurship.”
The discussion about “ants and lions” comes along about thirty minutes in. Don’t miss it. It’s perceptive. The panelists are Mike Cassidy, Chuck Holloway, and Nazila Alasti.
James Pilant
From around the web –
The Lion?
The Lion?

From the web site, Center for Entrepreneurship:

The previous blog  introduced two important questions any time-management process starts with. Here are a few tricks I found useful when aligning our time investments to our core objectives and principal goals.

But, the challenge of an entrepreneur and change leader is she is pulled in all different directions at the same time, which makes it extremely difficult to continually create success. Instead of racing and gaining, the entrepreneur lies on her back and is trampled by ants.  Every day is filled with tens and hundreds of actions and activities all of which seem important somehow, but together nearly immobilize her. Like with so many, the passion slowly drains out of the entrepreneur, and her goals start fading. Instead of looking to the big goals, moving forward, the small things in life take over.

From the web site, Arnonuemann – Thought Leadership: (I highlighted the text beneath the pretty graph and the graph came with it. It looks nice, so I’m keeping it but if there is a problem, let me know and I’ll pull it immediately. jp)

Lessons from the ants : all for one ( mission ) and one is there for all ….

“But ants aren’t nature’s only high-functioning teams. Packs of wolfs, pods of dolphins, and prides of lions all share remarkable strategies in terms of leadership, connectivity, execution and organization. For nature’s teams, mission matters most. Bioteams are the physical manifestation of a mission. They organize on the fly, adjust strategies in real-time and redefine membership based on environmental demands. Just Google “unicoloniality” to learn more about how some of nature’s teams inherently understand what many human teams essentially do not: membership is a function of achieving the mission and not the other way around.”

And finally from the web site, IllimunationZZ:
There is so much confusion in the air. A lot of people do not even know what they want in Nigeria and you can’t really blame them! Do people have ambitions any longer or they just want to work and get salaries on pay day? Are there counselors aiding, guiding, and moulding the interests of young students in primary and secondary schools; and in Universities? Are parents interested in, and supportive of their children’s ambitions or they just want to bask in the vicarious “glory” of those big names (Engr, Esq, Dr, Pharm, Arch…) for their own ego fulfillment? Are there still career fairs in our secondary schools and tertiary institutions? The system is so dysfunctional that we are busy struggling to accept anything slapped on us simply because there is a salary. Each time I watch National Geographic Channel, the question I keep asking myself is: “how is it that a human being dedicate his / her life time to studying butterflies, ants, birds, lions etc if not passion?” Let s/he who has a passion to bake cakes go on to become a brand; let s/he who loves flowers go on to become a brand florist; let s/he who loves to bake bread go on to become a household baker; let s/he who wants to be a great restaurateur go on to cook great meals; let s/he who sees a niche in mobile toilets go on to fill the void, let s/he who wants to be a great photographer go on to capture the memories etc. That will be Entrepreneurship and it won’t matter if you have chains of degrees or not. Passion would be the catalyst but certainly not running to grab a steering out of frustration from not getting relevant jobs.
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Robert Dolan and Business Ethics

Robert Dolan and Business Ethics

Robert Dolan Teaches Business Ethics – YouTube

This is a brief video in which Robert Dolan, at that time, Dean of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, held forth on a number of issues particularly business ethics. He begins the discussion by talking about the slow down in hiring in the financial sector and the effect on the students, moves into a discussion of how business ethics should be ingrained into the courses rather than a set of separate courses, and he ends with a good discussion of executive compensation.
His idea of action-based learning is used at the Ross School of Business and explained in some detail on their web site. I recommend you watch the video and, if an educator, read the web site explanation.
James Pilant
Wall_Street_SignFrom around the web –
From the web site, Stacy Blackman Consulting:
The most commonly asked question–How is Ross going to maintain its competitive advantage with its action-based learning and what is the school’s high-level strategy going forward?–elicited this response:

“While there was some recent debate surrounding whether or not we should abandon our action-based learning as the cornerstone of our brand and pick a ‘new horse,’ the faculty has chosen to ‘feed and care for the horse we’ve got.’ In other words, the school recognizes that we do action-based learning better than any of our competitors and it should prevail as our primary differentiating factor. Moving forward, Ross looks to grow this strategy by taking it abroad.”

Dean Dolan is also committed to boosting Ross’s global footprint via the strategic placement of international offices, starting in India and then China, the MSJ reports. Having offices in Hyderabad, Mumbai or Bangalore will help Ross better source field-based Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP), and offices with local roots will facilitate placement of Ross students in India better than efforts based in the U.S.

From the web site, Big Think:

Question: How does the Ross School integrate real world business problems in the classroom?

Robert Dolan: Well, there’s a number of ways. I guess I’ll start out by talking about the way that we do it is maybe as a little bit distinctive among business schools. I think the signature element of our school, our MBA program in particular, compared to others, is what we call action based learning. 

So right now, for example, all of our 425 first year MBA students would not be found in Ann Arbor.  They would be scattered around the globe in about 90 teams, working on real world problems. So what we’ve done to try to differentiate our students and really provide value added was probably about 10 years ago, slightly before I got to the school, we instituted what we called, this map project, which we call multidisciplinary action projects. So we, since, built that up and really invested in it as our point of differentiation.

And finally from the web site, See Sunshine:
For the second time in three years, the Stephen M. Ross School of Business has been named the No. 1 business school in North America by the Wall Street Journal.The Ross School is one of only two business schools to be ranked in the top four every year since the Wall Street Journal began its rankings in 2001.

“We’re happy the Wall Street Journal has again ranked us as the best MBA program in the country,” said Ross School Dean Robert J. Dolan. “The Journal’s ranking is particularly gratifying as it reflects the sentiment of hiring companies that see our graduates at work every day.”


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Does Teaching Business Ethics Matter? From the Ethics Sage

Are Ethics Courses Failing to Produce Ethical Business People? – Ethics Sage

The bottom line is there is no way of knowing whether business ethics education has made a difference. A graduate of a prestigious school might commit fraud in the future, but it doesn’t mean business ethics has failed them or even all students. Organizational pressures and the culture of a firm can create barriers to ethical behavior. The key is to find a way to work through the obstacles and voice your values.

I’m asked all the time why I teach ethics and am challenged whether it is even possible to change one’s ethics by a college course. After all, some argue, ethics is formed at a very early age. I don’t dispute that but do point out that my goal is to get students to reflect on their actions in a safe setting so they can better develop the tools to deal with ethical challenges in the workplace. I am not a guarantor of ethical action.

Teaching ethics should not rely on having one college course in business ethics and that is it. I see the failure of business ethics education to be one of not integrating ethics into each course and each decision in business. When colleges rely on one course to teach ethics, they are not sending the message that ethics counts.  If they cover it in all courses and in the context of functional courses, then they send a completely opposite signal that it is an important part of every business decision.

I can teach business ethics – I know it from past experiences including grading papers, exams, and student presentations and papers on the topics. What I don’t know is whether students will really learn the lesson. Similarly, I can teach Intermediate Accounting to my students but I don’t know if they have truly learned the material and will be successful on the CPA Exam or in their accounting careers.

There is old African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child”. It is quite appropriate to say that it takes an organization to raise an ethical employee.

Are Ethics Courses Failing to Produce Ethical Business People? – Ethics Sage

(I should mention that a great deal of this posting dealt with the “Giving Voice to Values” curriculum and the work of Mary C. Gentile. I have visited the web site for this curriculum and liked what I saw.)

I guess you could ask if classes in art, history or music are effective? It’s hard to measure the results once you wander even a little distance from the hard sciences, and even they have trouble coming up with hard data at times. Many of the most important subjects like leadership are difficult to teach and have results hard to measure. Ethics is no different. We “cast our bread on the water” and hope for it to return.

James Pilant

“What, no measurable results!”


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Should We Embed Business Ethics Into All Business Curriculum? Chuck Gallagher Weighs In


Chuck Gallagher’s Book

Business Ethics as a Core Course in Business Schools? What a novel idea…or do you prefer an Orange Jumpsuit and Handcuffs? « Motivational Speaker – Chuck Gallagher Business Ethics and Choices Expert

What a novel idea is right… It seems that what is OBVIOUS sometimes is missed by the masses. Honesty, integrity, and ethics are – or should be – the core foundation for which we operate in life. Yet, as Luigi Zingales points out in his article: “Business School should count ethics as a core course” it appears that all to often those who are at the top of the business food chain seem to forget the core of business fundamentals.

So here’s the deal…if your business school isn’t committed to teaching practical ethics then you can’t expect graduates to apply ethics in practical day-to-day applications.  What is practical ethics – perhaps it’s ethics applied in such a manner that it keeps you out of an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs.

Business Ethics as a Core Course in Business Schools? What a novel idea…or do you prefer an Orange Jumpsuit and Handcuffs? « Motivational Speaker – Chuck Gallagher Business Ethics and Choices Expert

I think this is a wonderful idea and it’s a painfully obvious concept. But it would be very difficult to implement. We would have to re-educate massive numbers of business faculty, more than a few of which are going to be doubtful of whether or not ethics has a place in business. There are always a certain number of those believing “It’s a dog eat dog world out there and you better get used to it.

But that one business class devoted to ethics is what’s holding what’s left of the line and not holding it very well. It’s a poetic and noble gesture much like turning an electric fan toward a hurricane to change its path. We in the world of business can do better and should.

James Pilant

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Is Teaching Business Ethics a Waste of Time?

English: , Prussian philosopher. Português: , ...

English: , Prussian philosopher. Português: , filósofo alemão. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Business school and ethics: Can we train MBAs to do the right thing? – Slate Magazine

The only way we’ll get our students to integrate their moral compasses with the practical tools of business we teach them is to incorporate the topic of ethics throughout the curriculum. This will require the accounting and finance and marketing professors to grasp the ethical blind spots inherent in their respective areas, and to appreciate and recognize approaches to lessening them. Professors, in other words, need to be moral architects themselves.

When you stop and ask students whether they’d like their dying words to be “I maximized profits,” a wave of laughter ripples through the class, as all but the most callous have higher aspirations for themselves. When we ask MBA students why they might want to be a CEO, the first two responses are “I want to make a difference” and “I enjoy a challenge”; “Making gobs of money” always comes in third. We need to work harder to equip students to live up to those aspirations. And if we’re not going to make a better-faith effort in this endeavor, perhaps we should remove discussion of ethics from business schools altogether. Otherwise, it serves merely as empty PR for MBA programs and to appease the consciences of those who teach in them.

Business school and ethics: Can we train MBAs to do the right thing? – Slate Magazine

Maybe, but I don’t think so. I do think the way like the article says that the way business ethics is taught now is a failure and a disaster. The article recommends embedding ethics in every part of the business curriculum. That would be nice, but it is neither necessary or likely that will happen.

I recommend that business ethics be taught the way I do it. (I know, everybody does – however, hear me out.) I believe in giving business students the opportunity to develop their own moral landscape. I use moral problems, big ones, airline crashes, economic disasters, fires, murders, etc., as examples. Then I ask students the big questions: Who’s responsible and what should be done? They decide within a set of guidelines. I tell them that for every big open ended question, that there are usually around five or so really good answers, eleven to fifteen mediocre answers and an infinity of bad inadequate poorly thought out answers. I tell them to look for the five.

By providing the students with broad guidelines and by refusing to tell them the “right” answers, I engage their judgment. They write brief essays justifying their choices, and then we do it again and again. By the end of the semester, they have created a moral framework, that I hope lasts for their lifetimes certainly for many years. My perception is that self education, self creations in a real sense is the most effective means of education.

James Pilant

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One-Third of Students Don’t Learn Much in College!! (Part 3-Our Society, Business and the Liberal Arts)

Part 3 of my series on American Higher Education. (Part 1 is here.) (Part 2 is here.)

For those of you who are new to these postings, I include the brief recap below.

From CBS Money Watch –

A new study suggests more than one third of parents aren’t necessarily getting a great return on their investment in their kids’ college education. Two college professors tracked more than 2,300 college students at 24 colleges and universities from their freshman year in 2005 through senior year, testing them along the way to gauge their critical and analytical thinking. According to the authors of a new book based on the study, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, 36 percent of college students did not learn much in the way of those cognitive skills.

But at least that was an improvement over the learning curve through sophomore year: In the first two years of school, 45 percent of college students had no significant improvement in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing.

Part 3 –

We live in a time where thinking “from the gut” is popular. Where the President of the United States (President Bush) can brag about his low grades and get laughs rather than looks of disapproval. This is a country where a likely presidential candidate’s favored means of communicating with her followers are twitter postings seldom more than one sentence long. Does this encourage students to believe that there success is based on the skills acquired in college? Or does it clearly indicate to them that success is based on personality and a fast quip?

There is no more obvious place to find the American contempt for education than the field of science. We live in an era where the government has been censoring scientific data and findings from public web sites and official documents. What’s the message here? If you are learned and you say the wrong things, your writings disappear. What message does that sent to young people entering college? Don’t disagree. Don’t think.

If you want to be on the front lines of the culture wars, indicate a belief in global warming or evolution.  One of the most disgusting public spectacles I have to endure is some person telling another “Look at all the global warming.” whenever it gets cold. If there is anything more indicative of sloppy mindless thinking, there it is. By the time, you can feel global warming in the temperate zones, most of human life has perished. If the most plebian mundane mindless joke preempts years of careful research, does that inspire students to rigorous study?

But the business world wants critical thinkers, don’t they?

Don’t be silly. They want people with a “practical” education. That means business school. Business schools have several functions as far as the business world is concerned. The first is an education in the philosophical doctrines friendly to business operations and profit. The second is what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior in the world of financial endeavor. The third is critical thinking into carefully designated zones: markets, government regulations, banking practices etc.

And we’re not talking about a lot of critical thinking. This is critical thinking in specified areas. Businesses do not encourage thinking outside these areas. It is troublesome to them.

Let me give you an example. I teach business ethics. I was given a variety of business ethics text books to examine for possible use in my class. I went through them, tossed them and wrote my own class. Why? The books offered a pathway to ethical thinking carefully designed to limit choices. There was only a very limited discussion of ethical systems. By avoiding this, the textbooks avoided giving the students ethical choices outside of a few limited ones acceptable to the business world. My introduction of Christian and other moral systems as subjects of discussion in the realm of business ethics was almost revolutionary but long needed.

How do you get critical thinking?

We know how. It’s been embedded in Western culture for six hundred years. It is the kind of education that the founding fathers had. It is the kind of education that has inspired and ennobled human development. It is the kind of education that is the basis of the idea that humans are not limited in station to that of their fathers and that kings do not rule based on authority given by God.

That type of education is called the liberal arts.

There are seven liberal arts, the quadrivium: arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy and the trivium: grammar, logic and rhetoric.

Over time, these have evolved into the study of a separate subjects, philosophy, literature, art, music, English, etc.

These “impractical” subjects are the basis of learning critical thinking skills and living life as a whole human being capable of fulfilling the duties of citizen.

My son’s school gives students money awards for success in early college classes just as long as the classes are in practical subjects not the liberal arts.

I think that illustration sums up business thinking about education in the United States.

So there you have it. Critical thinking. Society despises it. Businesses don’t want it save in small inoffensive pieces and we are no longer interested in teaching the subjects that develop it.

This society wants uneducated, highly emotional bloviators to dominate television commentary. This society wants science as long as it is producing an amusing new game. Once science says something about the beginnings of humanity or the dangers of our country’s addiction to fossil fuels, the Attorney General of Virginia is talking law suit. Business want smooth operations unhindered by dissent and are willing to finance college success only in areas not inclined toward critical thinking.

And what are many of those commenting on these findings saying, “These students are lazy.”

We live in a time and place of such blatant hypocrisy the we can blame the students for the failures of No Child Left Behind, the way undergraduates are taught in universities and colleges, the business community’s preference for vocational teaching and our society’s disdain for learning.

James Pilant

National Problem Fixable By Making Insignificant Changes In Business School

From Business Week –

Have business schools contributed to creating overconfident and self-focused leaders? I suspect many of you will nod your head in agreement. You might even declare that, by extension, business schools share blame for the economic crisis. As a business school dean, I take these perceptions seriously; there is enough in them to warrant careful reflection.

An antidote to overconfidence and self-focus in business leaders may lie in building more focused cultures in our business schools. Culture is the set of values and norms in an organization that shape behavior. It acts as an internal gyroscope for everybody in the organization to keep them in balance, acting ethically and in line with the larger interests. It is what people do “when the manager is not looking.”

Yes, all we have to do to fix our bizarre cultural worship of pirate CEO’s is to tinker with business school attitudes. The root of all evil is based in schooling probably in those ethics classes.

I get tired of hearing this nonsense. It is important to have good business schools. It is important that they communicate ethics, attitude, business knowledge and considerable training. But that’s it.

A business school is not like wading into a pool blessed by an angel and getting healed.

Overconfident attitudes and overly proud, ridiculously vain attitudes are not based in business school curriculum but in larger society.

If we want to change that, we give stockholders a say in how the company runs, put rigorous controls on executive salaries and change bonuses to consider long term contributions and actual contributions.

James Pilant