New views on entrepreneurship from Harvard Business School

March 25, 2011

Last night I participated in a panel discussion hosted by The Economist and Harvard Business School on the state of entrepreneurship. In attendance was a stellar crowd of business luminaries, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs running all kinds of businesses. On the panel were executives from dynamic organizations such as Zipcar, Aspen Aerogels and Care.com. After a quick case to get the juices flowing, the group had a fantastic discussion. Some important insights emerged that I believe are noteworthy for companies large and small.

First:
Corporations are retooling innovation by mimicking entrepreneurship habits and styles. P&G is in the throes of retooling for innovation to become lean and fast moving.

Second:
There is opportunity in uncertainty...up to a point. Our current state of politics and policy makes it hard to innovate anything that has a long horizon. Case in point is China, which has a clear policy on solar and is running away with the market.

Third:
Disruptive business models and brand ideas are a driving force today given corporate inertia in staid industries. This entails more than merely seeking out whitespace in a single dimension, but instead finding whitespace in three or four dimensions. A good example: Zipcar tackles auto ownership, self-expression, shared values and usage issues by upending the traditional models of purchase or rental.

Overall, the evening was stimulating. Special thanks to HBS and The Economist for hosting the event.

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