Is London becoming the world’s greatest city for innovation? — Peter Hirst

MIT Sloan Executive Director of Executive Education Peter Hirst

MIT Sloan Executive Director of Executive Education Peter Hirst

From Wired

Earlier this November, the British-American Business Council’s  New England chapter (BABCNE) hosted an inspiring event in Boston that brought together nine high-ranking foreign diplomats, members of international business associations and business leaders to discuss how innovation can increase productivity and income opportunities through cross-border participation. The fact that the event was organized by Susie Kitchens, HM Consul General of the United Kingdom is no surprise.

National Mind Shift

The UK is mobilizing a strong and quite deliberate push for innovation-driven business development—domestically and globally. And nowhere is this more evident than in London. As a British “subject” (yes, that’s still the term!) who now calls the USA home, I am struck by a truly seismic cultural shift taking place in Britain—the nation’s stereotypical attitudes toward risk-taking and shunning conspicuous success are at long last changing, and quite visibly. Having lived and worked in London for several years, I may be partial to its continuing progress as a major center of cultural, academic and economic influence, but the changes I see during every visit are undeniable. Especially so in the last couple of years.

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Not all entrepreneurs are young — Jim Dougherty

MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer Jim Dougherty

From Xconomy

Most of the famous entrepreneurs we hear about are fairly young. We tend to read in the popular press about the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world and assume that all successful entrepreneurs launch businesses in their 20s. However, this couldn’t be further from reality.

Recent studies show that older entrepreneurs are increasing while the number of younger entrepreneurs is decreasing. According to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, the share of entrepreneurs in the 55-64 age group jumped from 14.3 percent in 1996 to 23.4 percent in 2012. In contrast, the share of entrepreneurs in the youngest age group of 20-34-year-olds decreased from 34.8 percent in 1996 to 26.2 percent in 2012.

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How to get employees to be more entrepreneurial — Deborah Ancona

MIT Sloan Prof. Deborah Ancona

MIT Sloan Prof. Deborah Ancona

From Fortune

Organizational change has never been easy, but in the past it was a little more straightforward. Fifty years ago, companies followed a basic blueprint. They had heroic leaders — a CEO and an elite top layer of management — who had tremendous authority and made all the important decisions. When they wanted to make a change, they set a direction and it cascaded down through the firm.

Today things are different. As companies compete more on speed, agility, and innovation, decision-making needs to get pushed down. Sure, there remain some old-school companies that rely solely on top-down leadership. But in an increasing number of firms, leadership is shared across the organization, often in teams. Command and control is out; collaboration and teamwork are in.

These are positive developments, but they don’t make organizational change any easier to pull off. The key for managers is to create an environment where teams and individuals — even those lower in the organization — have the latitude and autonomy to recommend and try out new ideas, be it a new environmental initiative, a new technology, or a way to seize some new opportunity in a different market. The goal is an entrepreneurial workforce at all levels of the company. Here are some ways to achieve that:

Think beyond the official job title.

Managers tend to put employees into neat little boxes according to their place on the corporate organizational chart. But these boxes make it hard for someone lower down in the organization, without an official title, to vet and test a new idea. There’s a prevailing attitude of: “We need a formal manager to do that.” To combat that tendency when assigning people to projects, consider who has the passion, knowledge, and networks to succeed — independent of that person’s title. If this is not politically possible, then think about creating two-person teams or small groups that include people with the necessary expertise.

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Think like a founder before becoming one — Elaine Chen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Elaine Chen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Elaine Chen

From Xconomy

February 2014 will go down in history as a month with two huge startup exits: Nest (acquired by Google for a whopping $3.2 billion) and WhatsApp (acquired by Facebook for an even more whopping $19 billion).

If you haven’t caught the startup bug, there’s a good chance you will have caught it after this. What’s everybody waiting for? Let’s all go start companies!

Lest everybody get carried away with these success stories, let’s look at some statistics. In May 2013, Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator—arguably the most prestigious incubator in the U.S.—tweeted an interesting piece of data: 37 of the 511 YC companies to date had valuations of, or had sold for, $40 million or more. That’s great for the companies in the list (which includes Dropbox). But what about the 474 left off the list?

Not to be a wet blanket, but this statistic basically says an elite startup, incubated by the best of the best, has a less than 1 in 10 chance of becoming a big success.

Read the full post at Xconomy.

Elaine Chen is a Senior Lecturer in the Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship.

How to start a business and stay in college — Elaine Chen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Elaine Chen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Elaine Chen

From Forbes

This is the story of Nate, John, Chris and Tyler, who started a company while attending MIT and decided to stay in school while working on their startup at the same time.

I first met Nate Robert and John Reynolds in March 2013. Nate (then 22) and John (then 21) were seniors studying Mechanical Engineering at the time.  In the previous semester, Nate and John took a mechanical design class (MIT 2.009), where they became intrigued by the problem of delivering beer to pubs without elevator access.  Traditionally, beer distribution companies use dollies that cost around $300 each.  Delivery personnel would stack two kegs on each dolly, then bend over and bounce 320lb of beer up and down flights of stairs.  Not only does this destroy the dollies, but repetitive back strain for delivery men results in a high injury rate, costing these companies millions of dollars every year.

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