Archive for August, 2011

The Academic Entrepreneur

August 16th, 2011

I’m currently in the middle of an Academy of Management conference at which business scholars gather to share ideas and connect. During a symposium about how academic professionals can make more of an impact in the world a barrier was discussed that prevents professionals from getting more involved or working on impactful things: job security.

I should clarify, the mechanisms (publishing in a certain type of journals and citations) by which most universities and colleagues keep score and evaluate when deciding who to hire and who will get tenure (aka job security) as a professor were identified as the challenge since journals only let in a small amount of articles that meet a certain criteria and get past biases that exist in editors and peer reviewers.

One of the panel members introduced the idea of being an “Academic Entrepreneur” as a way to make an impact. He suggested scholarly professionals do what most entrepreneurs do:

  • Find big problems, they’re really just big opportunities waiting to be discovered
  • Do what you are good at and are passionate about
  • Work with others to solve the problem

So I decided to carry the idea little farther and mutated some questions that entrepreneurs need to answer to ensure the business will work into questions that Academic Professionals can ask themselves as they decide how to be impactful with their research before they begin:

  • What is a problem that I can solve (matches your passions) that will be valued by others?
  • Who recognizes this is a problem? Who is the consumer of this idea? Who is my audience?
  • What is the conversation look like right now? Where do I find the conversation?
  • How will I know if my idea is valued? (presentations, citations, request for papers,etc.)
  • How can I reach those that are interested in solving that problem?
  • How can I generate that interest to increase the likelihood of publishing or being cited?
  • How much is that idea or research worth to the editors, reviewers, community, etc.?
  • What do I need to know in order to provide that solution?
  • How can I gain that knowledge? What needs to be done?
  • What skills do I need to be able to produce or deliver that solution?
  • Who can I partner with that might have the skills to produce or deliver the solution?
  • What will it cost me (time, brainpower, social capital, other opportunities, etc.)?
  • Is it worth it?

Is it worth it? That question surfaced in a discussion later in the day with some scholars who spent their time making an impact in the real world. How you define your success in life is something you need to know as you develop your scholarly career because institutions will have their own measures of success that may or may not be to your liking. Tenure is the ultimate prize that is offered by most institutions but how motivating that is really depends on what you want. Are you playing the game or making your own?

Bootstrap Rule of Thumb

August 2nd, 2011

Never buy what you can rent

Never rent what you can barter for

Never barter for what you can borrow

Never borrow what you can get for free

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