You don't need an idea to start a business

Education and Innovation

Diario Perfil
December 2018

We share Francisco Santolo's opinion column published in Diario Perfil about innovation in education and all the opportunities and challenges that an entrepreneur encounters while creating his own business.

We highlight the following extract that embraces his philosophy: "The first step to innovate in education is to abandon absolute knowledge. Embrace an attitude of continuous learning". 

Thinking about something "innovative" brings us directly to the world of ideas. The first step towards understanding innovation is to reckon that it goes way beyond mere ideation. In and of itself, an idea cannot turn out to be innovative without execution. All those things that we fail to materialize do not bring about the beneficial effects of true innovation.

At the same time, thinking about entrepreneurship connects us with companies, investment, employees, offices and money. You lose sight of what might be the most fundamental aspect: to embark on an entrepreneurial journey is, in essence, nothing more than the art of making things possible.  It means abandoning what is familiar and taking an unexplored path to make our dream, vision, and purpose come true. It means taking a leap of faith, resisting the fear and daring to fight in order to turn our desires into reality.

Formal education in business still remains closely linked to the world of ideas, outdated models, and concepts, detached from the reality of the profession. Against more recent theoretical learning, it still embraces planning and replaces hypothesis (or riddles) with truths, shaping a rational, explainable, and predictable world. It is centered on the intellectual aspect but it neglects two main components of this journey: the rational and the emotional aspects. In the midst of this lack of action and experience, learning experiences become blurred and students' motivations fade away.

The first step to innovate through education is to renounce absolute knowledge.  We have to start perceiving teachers as facilitators that work with a horizontal perspective, showing humbleness, in an ongoing learning approach, with the deep understanding that any human being can teach us from their diversity and personal experiences. Such teaching practice requires much more preparation and confidence than the traditional approach. The condition that makes innovation possible stems from communicating to students the vision that certain tools and practices will bring them closer to their dreams, desires, and eventually, help them achieve their life purpose. In order to guarantee the effectiveness of this, they have to experience these tools firsthand, applying them in initiatives that are linked to their interests.

The advances in both entrepreneurial and innovative methodologies have been very relevant and yet the best educational business institutions of the world have not updated their curriculum.  Leaving the current curriculum behind gives way to the formulation of hypothesis, and a rapid, creative and low-cost testing environment.  Thus, the results define decisions over hierarchy. Playing games, a fun learning activity that was banished and neglected after childhood, becomes relevant once again.  Collaboration replaces competition and allows us to highlight and celebrate our unique virtues and talent, learning from our diverse points of view and experiences.

Entrepreneurship means facing ourselves, our limiting beliefs and the voices of others. It means trying over and over again.  It means falling down and getting back up again.  It means transformation, believing that the world can be better, for ourselves and for others.  It is not a solitary quest, nothing stems from our single action as individuals, all our achievements involve the participation of others. The training process needs to incorporate these lessons and encourage collaboration among ourselves.

Entrepreneurship is making things possible and, in that sense, we all are entrepreneurs. I have the conviction that the world that is coming will find more powerful individuals, with the capacity to have an impact on the communities they belong to.  It will no longer be a hierarchical world of corporations and governments.  It will be a world of moral authority and legitimate influence.  And the result will depend on us, on the new generations, that will be trained in abstract ideas, the "truth" of knowledge or the capabilities and skills to make things possible.

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