Can you teach innovation and entrepreneurial skills

So, Can you?

I have read a number of articles recently were Governments, business and various luminaries have suggested that what we need to be doing more of, what we need to be teaching more of is how to be innovative, how to entrepreneurial, however, and this is my sticking point here, can we actually teach these skills or more importantly, if we can teach a set of skills with we deem to be entrepreneurial skills them will that actually make people more entrepreneurial.  Will teaching people ‘innovation’ skills lead to more and greater innovation or more innovators.

My answer – I am really not sure.

 What makes me not sure is something very simple, is there something about, truly great innovators, entrepreneurs, and even leaders that isn’t teachable.  Even if we can distill what makes a true innovator down to a set of definable skills, which we can impart to others, will the people we impart the skills to become truly great innovators or do they need something else.

Not everyone who plays sport (no matter how much they train) will go on to be the best in the world, or even approach being the best in the world, or even their country or state.  Why, well, for a range of reasons, genetics for one, luck, environment, other people, there are a range of reasons.  Do they gain skills and knowledge through the process yes, does that make them an athlete, maybe, does it make them a truly great athlete, probably not.

I have seen lots of people struggle through courses and programs, Leadership, Innovation Entrepreneurship and other such topics, because their employer wanted to them to, they had to have it move forward in their careers, or they had been marketed the hype that these courses would really teach them how to be innovative.  Did it work? In some cases probably, but in a lot of cases, they went back to their roles, they continued their jobs, they did what they were good at, and were successful at it.  They were successful at it because it was what they were good at or what they enjoyed.

Teaching someone entrepreneurial skills, who is really not interested in being entrepreneurial, seems to me, like a lot of these sorts of training to be a real waste of time and resources, and even more so if it turns out that we can’t really teach people how to be entrepreneurial in the first place.

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About pauldrasmussen
Paul Rasmussen is one of Australia’s most widely read Vocational Education and Training Commentators. He provides deep, unbiased analysis and insights not only on topical issues, but also on the underlying structure and policy which supports the industry. His writing and analysis has been praised for its uncompromising and thought provoking style and its ability to focus on the issues of real importance to the sector. He has advised various government departments and ministers, training providers, public and private organisations, not for profits and small to medium enterprises on the VET sector and the issues and opportunities facing it. He is one of Australia’s most awarded learning professionals and a regular speaker at a range of conventions and forums. His extensive experience in vocational education, and learning and development coupled with formal qualifications in philosophy, ethics, business and education management allow Paul to provide a unique view of the road ahead and how to navigate it.

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