Linking the threads

Entrepreneurship reflections from the UK. From early June through until late August the ECIC Academic Director for post graduate Innovation and Entrepreneurship programs, Allan O’Connor, will be on study leave. During his time away (mainly at the University of Edinburgh, UK), he will from time to time post observations, challenges, new insights and reflections encountered across his travels.

I’ve written twice about ecosystems as this has emerged as an interesting question while here in the UK. However, I came to Edinburgh to extend the work I had been involved with on business incubation. I’m pleased to say that this has got some traction and this research will benefit from a set of Edinburgh interviews. At the same time another conversation prior to leaving Australia also opened up a line of inquiry about what might be called entrepreneurial sense making. Given the time to reflect on this, it seems that these three lines of inquiry are all threads to the same research area which I might call interplay learning.

Each of these threads – ecosystems, incubation and sense-making – require interplay learning. That is to say learning that requires both discovery and analysis or learning by both doing and theorising.

Experienced entrepreneurs will often say that one has to go out and do entrepreneurship to learn it as many have learned entrepreneurship through this means. However, learning by doing has it’s lmitations, particularly if reflective and reflexive learning is not involved or the breadth of exposure to issues is too narrow. ‘Doing’ requires responding to choices and in doing so some form of logic is applied that rationalises one choice over another. Some may say that entrepreneurial decision making is an intuitive process but what is an intutitive decision if it isn’t still rationalising a choice even if purely on an emotional response. Theorising about outcomes from actions, either before or after the fact, and testing the theory by doing can build entrepreneurial confidence and experience.

Ecosystems seem to be are part of the learning process. Thus far it seems as though ecocsystems can be subdivided into parts and entrepreneurs learn about different parts of an ecosystem in perhaps a non-linear and non-sequential way. The idea of interplay learning translates as entrepreneurs who ‘play in inter ecosystems’ and learn through refexivity. In an incubator environment this reflexivity is aided by peers, mentors, workshops and other support mechanisms.

All food for thought and further investigation.

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