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Entrepreneurial Passion vs Process

Separate passion from process in the Entrepreneurial model today.

An entrepreneur is passionate.  Entrepreneurship is a process.  Mix them up at your peril.  In fact, let’s just keep the passion and call the process something else, like business.  That model is looking more like studios everyday.

My dear friend, colleague and editor Chris Shipley agree on this point without exception.  Entrepreneurs are passionate about solving problems within various contexts.  From a garage to the White House it’s this passion that burns midnight oil.  They are a breed of people who are personally invested in an idea or concept to the point of creation.  Often against the odds and sound reason.

We can not teach Entrepreneurship.  We can only teach the people who are entrepreneurial to put a process around  the passion and the success it can bring.  This is why everyone has it wrong, from HBS, Kaufmann, Startup America, and the list goes on.  You can’t teach entrepreneurship. You teach business-building practices and experiential learning through a process helping students decide what kind of entrepreneur they are or the role they will play in an organization.  Chris has taken this role on for journalism with great success.  Through experiential programs her students are engaged vs instructed on the differences.  I am doing the very same through UC Berkeley.  I am also pleased with the efforts of the NSF, (National Science Foundation) through iCorps for taking this on.

As one example; you don’t teach “doctoring”  You teach medicine.  There is a whole process of training around the mechanics of doing a job where a staff can execute with you reliably.  It’s a passion for helping people that creates doctors.  Doctors that become entrepreneurial innovators create new procedures or medicines and are often outside the treatment systems.  Later, the Doctor returns to practice or instructs others how to practice the discoveries they made.  If you don’t have some innate interest in medicine, blood and healing, then you’re going to be a crappy doctor.  You don’t become the top of anything without passion.  It’s that passion under the job that makes it a profession.

You can teach someone to paint, but that person isn’t an artist without the passion to express a vision.  You can teach someone to play the violin and read music, but that person isn’t a top musician without the passion to express feeling in the performance.  Many people perform scientific tests to prove a thesis, but only scientists have a passion to unlock the small mysteries that show up with mind numbing constancy.  The list goes on.  Why does anyone standout in a given field as the authority?  Passion.  When there is no passion it’s just a job.

So why do we think we can teach anyone to be an entrepreneur?  We’ve dumbed down the passion, to foster the mechanics of business and leadership.  We have come to entrepreneurship by numbers and think we a better chance of winning the lottery.  We all know no one wants to be a number, especially someone who is passionate about something special or bringing to light a hidden truth.  Not everyone can be an Astronaut, and many don’t want to take that risk.  There are only so many people who would risk their life going to the moon while relying on thousands of people on the ground to insure success.  The entrepreneur is no different.

The business of launching an Astronaut is innovation t00.  Everyone has a role in the enterprise of launching that explorer into space and they are often entrepreneurial.  The risk of life and limb for the cause taken up by the Astronaut in their passion for exploration is insured by these people.  Note I said passion for exploration, not going to the moon.   Passion is the vision, entrepreneurship is the execution.  Going to the moon is just one mission.  Too often, vision and mission are confused as one and the same.  They are not.  The Astronaut is the passionate explorer, regardless of the target or execution to goal.  An Entrepreneur is a passionate creator regardless of the product or execution.  The difference between vision and mission is this:  Vision is the passion; mission is the execution and that makes entrepreneurship.

We can not teach the passion and self selection that creates entrepreneurs.  We can teach the process around it.  Through programs like C.E.T. at UC Berkeley we are working hard to bring experiential learning to those with the passion.  Other schools and companies are starting to see this new dawn.  The passionate individuals are empowered with the correct business process to innovate and reinvent business.  Entrepreneurship is the method behind innovation.  Teaching business practices only help others to communicate the vision and expand the opportunity to others.

Let’s stop trying to preach your #1 or nobody.  If that were true, movies would have the shortest credits in the world.

  • Producer

  • Director

  • Star(s)

As we know, credits in movies go on for ever.  Why?  It’ takes an army of people  to create an experience called a movie.  From the art, mechanics, script inspiration, to the final editing, a movie is filled with passionate people.  Each entrepreneurial person or group is working to fulfill the passion and vision of one entrepreneurial leader.  Often the Director or Executive Producer.  We call that a business, not a Startup.  Why???   It’s a business framed around entrepreneurial individuals that over decades has formed into an industry.  Just like the space program.  That is entrepreneurship.  They are all working a trade and the top of class are tradespeople.

So let’s stop fooling ourselves and focus on empowering entrepreneurs with better business processes to support the passion not crush it.  Not everyone can be, or should be, an entrepreneur.  So why force the issue anymore?  Become an apprentice to a real entrepreneur and learn entrepreneurship today!

If you’d like to weigh in on this discussion and read more about why – in the changing entrepreneurial landscape, I encourage you to follow Chris Shipleys writings on this and other issues relevant to entrepreneurship and success.

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