Harry Starren

Analyzing the walnut, by Harry Starren

We learn by making distinctions. When using our analytical skills and while we’re making distinctions, we learn and we lose. Taking things apart surely creates insight. Children take things apart all the time… and, so, these little monsters learn. They learn with the clock they’ve gotten as a present or with the wallpaper on their bedroom wall or with model cars. Analytical skills are built by demolishing. It’s the irony of the learning process. Destruction is deconstruction. Taking things apart.

As one Dutch poet said, ‘So much is lost while winning.’ That is, we lose meaning and win understanding. ‘I know how it works!’ my son triumphantly said, while ruining the alarm clock to the best of his abilities.

That’s us. We ruin things to the best of our abilities…

Does this have anything to do with leadership or entrepreneurship? I think it has. Unlike management, that tends to revere analytical skills, leadership addresses meaning. Sense making, that’s what it’s about. It does leave things in pieces, but making sense of things creates a pattern, an image. As in music and literature, patterns and images create meaning.

Warren Bennis has put it this way, “’Managers are people who do things right, leaders are people who do the right things.’ One skill depends on the other, but leadership has the priority. It’s best to do the right things well. Imagine doing the wrong things well, or as is more common and moral: doing the right things badly.’

Bennis’s definition is normative -It’s moral to do the right things and that comes close to characterizing entrepreneurship. The best definition of entrepreneurship I know comes
from Schumpeter: ‘Entrepreneurship is making new combinations that replace old ones.’ Entrepreneurship is the most dynamic force in the economy. A creative force. It takes leadership to be an entrepreneur and vice versa. They are nearly the same, but not quite. They are two sides of the same walnut; the brainy nut that can be cracked by using analytical skills.

In real life the leader and the entrepreneur travel together as one. Connecting people for a good cause or enterprise – this is a new combination that is replacing another combination, a
lesser one. Entrepreneurship is innovative by nature.

Replacing old combinations, that’s called competition and as we all know… you only win competitions if and when you are able to cooperate with other people. Cooperation and competition go together, like leadership and entrepreneurship. We need both. That’s the subject of this magazine: Leadership and entrepreneurship. Two sides of the same walnut.

Crack it, and look inside.

This entry was posted in Reflections.

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