Not having had a blog written in response to a blog before I was intrigued by Dave Jarman’s last week. You’ll need to read mine below and then Dave’s to see the context. Or accept that it’s a debate about the direction enterprise education is heading with me as the heretic.
You are correct to take my blogs at face value. I write them as a sort of stream of consciousness and free from the editing and the rigours of my daily life. I like the form. I like Jack Kerouac but lack the ability and intellect. Probably best if I try to pick up your points in order though.
If we are going to call it enterprise then it must be enterprise. Enterprise is that spark that turns the other factors of production into a more effective return and we have to make a return. And then we have to be taxed. That’s ok and that can work. But let’s not bog that down with crony capitalism. Let’s not mix up twisted markets with innovation. Wealth through innovation and sound management should be our goal but too much of our system is still a mix of ‘old boys’ and robber barons. That’s
feudalism not enterprise. The issue you raise goes to the heart of the problem of enterprise education though. It feels, looks and tastes at times as if much of the agenda, especially outside of the business schools, is distinctly and ironically anti-business. It’s
as if we are trying to lead a campaign that says that business is not about money, as if that is our core purpose, not so much apologists for business but champions of ‘another way’. We shouldn’t be either.
The trouble is, and going back to the first part of my first blog, we are shoehorning everything into enterprise education. We don’t need to. Instead we need to push employability; we need approach that to develop opportunity ready graduates not to twist and distort enterprise to be a one size fits all. In fact if we were talking about employability education then much of what we do in so-called enterprise fits and sits comfortably. By separating the two, by talking as if enterprise was something ‘other’ and then by reading the same script as we would for employability we lose credibility. If we have diluted the idea to an extent were all can self-define, where all must have prizes and everyone is enterprising then we really have lost the plot.
With regard risk it is clear that simulated risk is not risk, simulated cream is an abomination. I have spent a life time surfing and
whilst it is true that starting on smaller waves and building up is the only way to go you can still drown. In fact you are at as much risk on the smaller waves with no experience as you are later when your experience is pitted against monsters. De-risking is a business skill but risk has to be there to then be mitigated. The idea of designing enterprise education such that risk is removed, reduced or simulated for individuals not ready would be like running surf lessons for people who can’t swim. That’s the point to simply say come back when you are ready; maybe spend some more time on the employability courses until you gain confidence. But when you are here they will chew you up and spit you out – that’s what it’s like out there.
Of course students’ products will always be sympathy products until and unless they stop telling people they are students.
There is no need for exercises just get them selling or dealing and making things happen without ever saying you are a student.
I appreciate people will say “ah well it’s enterprising of them to play on the fact that they are students to get sales” and this is true and part of the paradox, but it’s not real. It’s as fake as travelling around with a TV crew and dropping Lord Sugars’ name every five minutes.
The idea of ignoring costs really does mirror society. We see many businesses ask about grant availability, about discounted rent and about subsidies. Of course we train students to do the same. It’s not that these things shouldn’t be sought; it’s not that people should take advantage of offers but rather when we judge a (student) business to be a success we fall in to the old trap of revenue vanity and allow them to do the same.
The whole idea of enterprise education has become wonderfully inclusive. The thing is inclusion should be on blindness to race, religion, gender and sexuality not ability, skills and attitude. Business does that, in its raw market form, rather well.