Category Archives: Business

Kawasaki on entrepreneurs, education and Singapore

In a conversation at the Stanford Global Entrepreneurs Challenge held in Singapore, Kawasaki held forth about all three. Paraphrasing wildly,

On education:When you educate young minds that the best thing that can happen to them is to land a government or a MNC (Multinational) job, why are you surprised that they dont want to be an entrepreneur?  They are not prepared for it. ” In America, if you work for a large company for a long time, people ask why. In Singapore, if people leave a large company, people ask why. This is a huge difference.”  He also said that the educational system, great though it is, has not really focused on “being creative” which as we all know is essential for entrepreneurship.

On entrepreneurship in Singapore, I have to say Guy is more enthusiastic.  He notes that resources are being deployed and  that the government has decided to pursue this trail, and we know

Singapore’s track record when the Government decides to pursue something. (This is the country whose per capita GDP was three digits a few years ago and look at them now! Wow!)  But some things like regulations will have to ease up.

The best quote though, came at the end, when he was asked whether

Singapore’s small size would be an obstacle.  “They have to go international” he said and added in pure Kawasaki-ese, ” Israel has five million people, six million entrepreneurs, and fifteen million opinions. Singapore has five million people, six entrepreneurs, and one opinion.” but he concludes, “If Israel can do it, why can’t Singapore?”

So look out Silicon Valley, here comes Singapore Island. Agree or disagree?

What I learned in B School…

Certainly, too much for one post. But since a lot my colleagues have asked me this, presumably because I am a scientist/educator/dean/ let me try to address that.

New strategies for problem solving and decision making would be my number one. everyone encounters problems to solve and decisions to make. I now have many more strategies in my toolbox.

Lessons in leadership would be as important.  This topic sounds touchy feely but is so critical. It was great to have an opportunity to think about it and to learn about it.

Finally, I relearned what it was to be a student.  It was wonderful to go through the cohort experience, to learn together from others, to ask for help, to be ready to accept help from a fellow sufferer, to give help, to work together on assignments, that would have been impossible alone.  This shared experience builds lasting bonds.

An educator who loses touch with being a student, loses touch with reality.  It was a compelling opportunity to rethink learning and review teaching.  Lesson learned: Too often educators ignore the social component of learning instead of harnessing its power.  Big mistake.  Everyone wants to get help and give help and a successful educational experience incorporates that element.

A scientist in a B school

People are curious about my ongoing Executive MBA experience at the Goizueta Business School. What is a scientist doing there with those business types, they ask. Having a great time, really. Chemistry is great fun, loved NMR and liquid crystals, but now as a Dean, I deal with numbers, people, projects, budgets, and administration more than glycolipids. I have enjoyed the courses, been challenged at times, and been really excited to learn about a completely new world, where everything has the powerful $$$ before and after it. And yes, it has been extremely useful already.

Take Organizations Structures course. Prof. Robert Drazin pointed me in the direction of a great paper that compares organization model of universities to a, get this, “garbage can model.” They refer to decision making in universities as organized anarchy. Ideas, people, solutions, and problems are dumped into a “garbage can” and solutions emerge, without a rational process. (Contrast that with the “Star” model of Galbraith for example where organization’s structure is designed with a careful balance of strategy, people, structure rewards and processes.) Those of you in higher ed admin will appreciate the reference to “organized anarchy” especially when you try to propose a rational way to solve a problem or make a change and before you know it someone has proposed something else and someone else has agreed for all sorts of incomprehensible reasons and finally something evolves that has noting to do with the original problem. My project for the course, take an existing problem and propose a solution with the garbage can model and contrast that to the rational “Star” model. Love it.
(Cohen, M. D., March, J. G., & Olsen, J. P. (1972). A garbage can model of organizational choice. Administrative Science Quarterly 17(1): 1-25.) Galbraith, Designing Organizations, (