Entrepreneurial virtues v competencies

In 1726, at the age of 20, Benjamin Franklin created a system to develop his character. He practiced a few every day.

  1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
  6. Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
  11. Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

In his youth, George Washington wrote 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.

The Stoics had four cardinal virtues-wisdom, courage, moderation and justice.

Here are some thoughts on virtuous entrepreneurship.

Having a moral compass is built on your system of values. However, translating those guidelines into action requires that you build entrepreneurial competencies such as:

Opportunity recognition pertains to one’s ability to scan and search for new information, connect the dots between incidents that appear to be unrelated with limited cues, and recognize patterns or ideas that suggest potential opportunities in the myriad cues or signals that they receive.

Conveying a compelling vision/seeing the future reflects an individual’s proclivity for effective communication where he or she can translate his or her vision into condensed, clear, and intriguing messages to important stakeholders.

Ability to maintain focus yet adapt speaks to the entrepreneurial experience. This ccan include considerable ambiguity and uncertainty, significant obstacles, ongoing emergence of new opportunities, and continuous change in circumstances. The entrepreneur must continuously adapt, change, modify, and switch while maintaining a self-regulated focus in the midst of volatile conditions.

Resilience captures the cognitive tendency of an individual to cope with stressful, adverse, and devastating situations, to be able to recover from failures, and to constructively sustain his or her efforts to pursue goals. In reality, successful entrepreneurs are not easily beaten by distress or rejections. Instead, they are able to remain or resume a calm state of mind, to tactically frame and analyze problems, dig into the root cause of failures, and to search for ways to get back on track again.

Interdisciplinary teamwork and collaboration refers to the ability of individuals to form partnerships with a team of professionally diverse individuals in a participatory, collaborative, and coordinated approach to share decisionmaking around issues as the means to achieving improved health outcomes .

Assessing the feasibility of an opportunity emphasizes the need for innovators to make evaluations or judgments on whether emerging information or changes would lead to viable opportunities with profit potential.

Self-Efficacy/Confidence relates to an entrepreneur’s self-confidence and selfassurance about his or her ability to take on challenges, to perform certain set of tasks as needed or expected, and to control processes, contingencies, or consequences in the entrepreneurial pursuit. 

Building and using networks concerns one’s ability to establish, maintain, and structure his or her contact network(s) in ways that foster relationships, enhance access to opportunities and/or resources, and potentially lead to realization of his or her objectives.

Tenacity/Perseverance refers to the extent to which entrepreneurs are committed to seeing their vision through, to endure the long journey to carry out venture creation, to work fervently despite challenges or adversity, to maintain interests, and persist with efforts in achieving goals .

Understanding of healthcare systems entails having a firm grasp of the various components of the health system and an understanding of the major issues faced by the stakeholders.

Resource leveraging/Bootstrapping describes the need to overcome resource constraints by leveraging resources from others. It also reflects a tendency for innovators to demonstrate an inclination towards effectual rather than causal reasoning in bringing together unique resource combinations .

Creative problem solving/Imaginativeness is characterized by Schumpeter (1942), who posited that creative destruction plays a key role in the innovation process. Innovators who start something are engaged in a process of creative imagination in which opportunities are exploited by continuously combining resources in new ways.

Design thinking is a human-centered, prototype-driven process for innovation that can be applied to product, service, and business design. It is the process of questioning, observing, and experimenting, so that you can become better equipped to capture valuable information and develop new business ideas. It requires experimentation in order to understand how things work, to test new business ideas or different approaches, and to look for valuable insights that may emerge in the process .

Guerrilla skills is a label adapted from a warfare context, describing approaches that center on clever ways to take advantage of one’s surroundings, do more with less, to rely upon unconventional tactics, and to utilize resources not recognized by others in accomplishing tasks within entrepreneurial firms.

Risk management/mitigation involves the systematic monitoring, assessing, hedging, transferring, and/or exploiting multifaceted risks encountered as an innovation initiative unfolds. Risk-aversive attitudes discourage individuals from innovative activities (Cramera et al., 2002), while successful entrepreneurs are willing to first recognize and bear the uncertainty or risk needed to take entrepreneurial actions, and are able to manage risk rather than simply trying to avoid risk .

Cross disciplinary knowledge refers to an understanding of the connections, interrelations, and interactions between different fields of knowledge .

Change management is the ability to understand and manage driving forces, visions, and processes that fuel large-scale transformation.

Information management is the collection and management of information from one or more sources and the distribution of that information to one or more audiences.

Behavioral economics refers to an understanding of psychological, social, cognitive, and emotional factors on the economic decisions of individuals and institutions, and the consequences for market prices, returns, and resource allocation. It is the understanding that drives decision making.

Leadership There is a strong link between leadership and innovation

Mindset Innovation starts with the right mindset

In their book, The Invincible Company, Osterwalder, et al. decribe an innovation culture readiness assessment tool that measures main categories:

Leadership Support: Strategic guidance (vision, direction and inspiration), resource allocation and portfolio managment

Organizational Design: Culture and policies

Innovation Practices: People and team development, tools, procedures and metrics

Scaling up author Verne Harnish emphasizes people, strategy, execution and cash.

Having an entrepreneurial mindset will drive your ability to get these knowledge, skills and attitudes that translate into execution:

But, having the tools and not using them is a problem. Getting from thinking to saying to doing takes translating those competencies into results. Getting S##T done requires other steps.

Even then, getting results that don’t add multiples of user defined value are, worst case, a solution looking for a problem.

So, your personal values, vision, mission, strategy and tactics might look something like:

Values: Virtuous entrepreneurship

VisionAchieve UN sustainable development goal #3

Mission; Help get ideas that add value to patients

Strategy: Design thinking/lean startup experimentation

Tactics: Develop and use entrepreneurial competencies to create results

In the end vision without execution is hallucination. Creating a product no one wants to buy is a nightmare.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs