The Profound Shifts Of An Entrepreneurial Economy

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“Innovative opportunities do not come with the tempest but with the rustling of the breeze.” -Peter Drucker

The world in which we live is undergoing some very profound shifts.  From the economy to education, change has become more rapid, more turbulent and more chaotic.  A process that has become so intense we’re even struggling to name it, to determine if we are residing in the knowledge, the entrepreneurial, the exponential, or the innovation economy.  Or maybe, just maybe, we have a foot in all four of them.

These profound shifts are affecting us as individuals, and as organizations.  It is affecting how we work, how we learn, as well as the skill-sets and abilities that will be necessary and needed for us to be functionally successful in the midst of these changes.  In some ways, we’ve turned our back on the past and have set sail for full speed ahead, for a world that will never be the same again.

Or as Peter Drucker informed us in 1985, “The emergence of the entrepreneurial society may be a major turning point in history.”  And the more we move forward, the more we see the predictive wisdom in his words.  We are in the midst of profound paradigm shifts.

As we look around us today, there is one thing we can’t deny, startups and entrepreneurialism has and is making a major impact on the economy and the world in which we live.  A mindset and way of working that is pushing beyond the workforce and seeping into institutions of every kind.  It is requiring us to be more flexible and adaptable.  It is no longer the world of one job and one set of skills to carry us through to retirement.  Or as Drucker shares, “The correct assumption in an entrepreneurial society is that individuals will have to learn new things well after they have become adults – and maybe more than once.”  Drucker continues that, “In an entrepreneurial society individuals face a tremendous challenge, a challenge they need to exploit as an opportunity: the need for continual learning and relearning.”  And in no other time in the history of our world, has that understanding been more true than of the time we are living in now.

It was almost as if Drucker was gazing into the future.  Especially, when you think of the appropriateness of his words for the change world we are facing, both as individuals and as organizations.  This need for continual and ongoing learning and relearning, of constructing, deconstructing and reconstructing our knowledge, our processes, our structures and our systems.  Much of what we see Peter Drucker expounding upon in 1985, is hitting us in a fast and furious fashion in 2015.

Just think of how on point, this excerpt from the 1985 Peter Drucker book ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship’, is for us in 2015:

“One implication of this is that individuals will increasingly have to take responsibility for their own continual learning and relearning, for their own self-development and for their own careers. They can no longer assume that what they have learned as children and youngsters will be the “foundation” for the rest of their lives.” It will be the “launching pad” – the place to take off from rather than the place to build on and to rest on.”

We live in a time, where organizations no longer want people that need to managed.  Rather, they are looking for creative and innovative problem solvers who can self-direct themselves and their own learning.  Or as Drucker adds, “And only they themselves can take responsibility for the necessary learning and relearning, and for directing themselves. Tradition, convention, and “corporate policy” will be a hindrance rather than a help.”

Are we seeing more and more of a need for lifelong learners as relevant and necessary for success in a shifting, global economy?

And the answer is a resounding yes!  It is no longer just enough to know, you have to know ‘how’.  You have to be able to create your own access if you are going to have the advantage to be successful in this ‘new’ economy.  Which is why Drucker saw that, “This also means that an entrepreneurial society challenges habits and assumptions of schooling and learning.”

This new economy is not only shifting our workforce, but education as well.  And for that reason, too often we say that we are not preparing our students for an unknown world.  Rather, we must be preparing our students to be flexible and adaptable to a world that is undergoing profound shifts.

We must be preparing our students to be able to self-direct themselves and their learning that will allow them to shift, pivot and adapt as necessary, in order to be successful in this entrepreneurial environment.

To be creative and innovative.

To be problem-solvers.

To be curious question chasers.

To be architects of their own future.

And most important, are we hearing the rustling of that breeze?


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