What does Music tell us about Leadership?


Consider an orchestra, we have the different music sections and the conductor leading. Traditionally we think of the conductor as being the leader. When we listen to a symphony we hear the harmonized music, each section of the orchestra contributing to the whole, each section blending together to produce the sound. The conductor facilitates the blending of the music. If we look at the musicians, each are highly skilled with their own instrument.

Refer to my early article where I said that leadership is creating an environment where other people can be successful (See here). Its not a job title.

If we define leaders as those that create the environment such that others can be successful, then a leader is the composer. By understanding what each musical piece can do, the composer has figured out how to blend their capabilities together to accomplish a vision.

The implication for the organizational world, is that leadership can be defined as the person who helps:

1)     create that musical score (organizational environment) where success is possible.

2)    each participant understand their role in the music (organizational vision).

3)     each participant derive enjoyment from practicing their profession within a larger harmony.

Want to be a leader? Be a composer

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My Top 3 Observations as Chair of The Startup Awards

As Chair of the Startup Canada Startup awards, I have just finished reviewing many of the many more applications for the 2017 awards, here are my top 3 observations:

1) Young people are seeing entrepreneurship as a profession and I’m seeing that they understand how to merge a diverse set of experiences, focus and education into an entrepreneurial career.

2) Social enterprises, non-social startups and CSR programs are melding to form a mindset of using business to make a positive difference in people’s lives, perhaps one day there will be little difference between them as they will all view businesses as solving the problems of the world.

3) Once the entrepreneurial culture and tool set takes root in a country then a diverse set of opportunities starts to appear for citizens to utilize.

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twitter: @jamesBowen2015


Are we Homo Entrepreneurus?


We are Homo Sapiens, and Homo cursus meaning Thinking man and Running man. We are also Homo Entrepreneurus

Entrepreneurship is a natural profession.

What do I mean by a natural profession?

There are somethings that we humans do that appear “hardwired” within us. Consider the muscle and skeleton structure of our necks, buttocks, toes, foot arch and hamstrings, it’s obvious that among primates we are the running species. No other primates are structured like we are to run. Running is our natural activity.

Consider that children appear to be hardwired for learning and parents hardwired to teach their children. No other primate actively attempts to teach and learn like we do. Teaching is a natural profession.

Consider that many (if not all) other primates don’t grasp the meaning of pointing. If we point at something a dog will look to where we point but not a wolf or many of the other primates. Pointing is a form of communication, humans are natural communicators. Communication is a natural part of every profession.

Our progress through history has been accomplished by our natural curiosity and desire to improve our lives. We are a species that delights in creating and implementing ideas, we are a natural at creativity and innovation. There are several professions aligned with this natural ability including the arts and entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship is a therefore a natural profession to satisfy our desire to invent, implement new ideas and improve our environment.

Entrepreneurship is about creating new ideas and implementing them to solve problems. It should be a tool in every profession and as natural in our education, organization and lives as running, learning and pointing.

In our modern economy, entrepreneurship is being taught in the educational system and young people are seeing it as a profession and career (see our entrepreneurship simulation). The future holds great promise.

We are Homo Entrepreneurus

Just thought I would point that out.

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Leadership in 3 ideas

leadership-slider1What is leadership? We talk about it, take courses on it, in my opinion it can be mostly expressed with 3 overall concepts.

1.      Understanding other people. This concept encompasses concepts such emotional intelligence, path goal theories, situational theories, Herzberg’s motivational theory and Maslow’s motivational theory.

2.      Create an environment such that other people can be successful. This encompasses organizational culture, compensation, recruitment, leadership styles, team formation concepts, organizational tools, information availability, values, vision, missions, goals, and metrics.

3.      Do it all with Integrity. Without integrity, trust that the leader has the best interests of everyone in mind could be absence and thus people might be more hesitant, more protective of their position, less communicative, less creative, and more risk adverse. People need to know that the leader can be trusted.

Check out our ethics simulation for universities, colleges and organizational training.

Technology Start-ups lead by non Techies – Entrepreneurship Notes


I have been approached many times by would-be entrepreneurs that want to start a company which has technology as its core intellectual property, usually software as service. In some cases, the would-be entrepreneurs have no capability in technology and figure they will outsource the technology’s development and maintenance, manage everything and get investors to pay for it.

What’s wrong with this?

1)     The core intellectual property and knowledge of the technology will reside outside the company. Admittedly this could be dealt with through legal agreements but the risk remains of intellectual property theft.

2)     A primary issue is the risk that the delivered technology will be problematic this can occur for the following reasons:

a.      Technology developers might not understand what exactly is needed and thus deliver what is asked for but not what is needed, for example, a web site is asked for, the software developer doesn’t question whether a cell phone app would be better, so a website is delivered and without security protections because that wasn’t asked for. Yes, I have seen this happen. In other words, they delivered what you asked for but not what is needed or optimal given the long and short term vision and goals.

b.     The nature of the vision and understanding of the market tends to evolve, an in-house team tends to be more attuned to the evolving nature of what is needed.

c.      I have seen business plans in which the entrepreneur figures their role is just to manage. Just being the ideas person or the management person doesn’t always work in startup.

While outsourcing or delegating can work, there are three main take-aways:

1)     Never delegate understanding, the entrepreneur team needs to understand the nuances i.e. implications and implementation issues around their core IP this usually occurs for those that can do technology.

2)     Entrepreneurs need to be able to do, not just imagine and inspire.

3)     Investors tend not to like funding all the development costs while the founding team just “manages”.

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