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Leaps Tall Buildings...Splat!
on December 22, 2010
First of all, I'm not an entrepreneur (I can barely spell the word)--but some of my best friends are entrepreneurs. Lately, I've been pondering the entrepreneurial side of nonprofit organizations, churches and businesses.
You know the drill: A gifted, entrepreneurial nonprofit or church leader returns from his mountaintop meeting with God. He has a new vision. He casts the vision. He recruits more staff. He inspires major donors. He leaps tall buildings.
He falls flat on his face.
What's the deal here? Well, first of all, entrepreneurs are very different animals. In this masterpiece, the leading textbook on entrepreneurship worldwide, Robert D. Hisrich defines an entrepreneur as "an individual who takes initiative to bundle resources in innovative ways and is willing to bear the risk and/or uncertainty to act."
Churches and ministries, especially, desperately need initiative and innovation. Yet for all the talk and enthusiasm for entrepreneurship in the marketplace, those who exercise their entrepreneurial gifts in nonprofit organizations or churches are regularly misunderstood and often marginalized. Why?
If you consider yourself an entrepreneur, you likely see the world--and ministry opportunities--far differently than anyone else.
Hisrich, the Garvin Professor of Global Entrepreneurship and Director of the Center for Global Entrepreneurship at Thunderbird School of Global Management, also understands the nonprofit ministry world and has led seminars for hundreds of nonprofit leaders over the years.
Along with co-authors Michael P. Peters and Dean A. Shepherd, Hisrich has created perhaps the most comprehensive study ever of entrepreneurial men and women. In this remarkable 602-page book, filled with fascinating sidebar profiles of in-the-trenches entrepreneurs, the authors uncover every entrepreneurial stone ever imagined and conclude their work with 17 case studies covering 120 pages from the Rug Bug Corporation to "Mamma Mia: The Little Show That Could!"
Hisrich cites a study by Howard Stevenson, a Harvard University professor, that says that "entrepreneurship represents a mode of managing an existing firm that is distinct from traditional management in terms of eight dimensions: (1) strategic orientation, (2) commitment to opportunity, (3) commitment of resources, (4) control of resources, (5) management structure, (6) reward philosophy, (7) growth orientation, and (8) entrepreneurial culture."
Don't let the "textbook" label scare you off. A good book on entrepreneurship must itself be entrepreneurial--and this one is. On page 49, Table 2.2 lists 20 continuums (rate your organization from 1 to 10) on how entrepreneurially your organization is managed. Example: "Our employees are evaluated and compensated based on their responsibilities" scores a one. At the other end, "Our employees are evaluated and compensated based on the value they add to the firm," rates a 10.
If you fancy yourself an entrepreneur, but have never actually studied the art and science of entrepreneurship, maybe it's time.