EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:Allan Gray Orbis Foundation is one of many organisations seeking to develop greater entrepreneurial capacity in their beneficiaries to effect change and development in society. Yet while the positive benefits of entrepreneurship are broadly accepted, after 40 years of intensive research there has been no significant progress in unlocking its secrets for broad application. Anthony Farr discusses a new move to codify entrepreneurship through the development of an 'entrepreneurship method', similar to the development of the scientific method in the 16th century. He notes how even in its current early stages, the entrepreneurship method provides a powerful paradigm against which to evaluate and refine the activities undertaken within the Allan Gray Fellowship and Scholarship.
Entrepreneurship is mostly seen as the domain of the gifted, outside the reach of the ordinary man. If we reverse to the 16th century, this so-called 'great man' explanation was exactly the situation in which science found itself. Before the intervention of scientist/philosopher Francis Bacon, scientific progress was circumstantial and largely dependent on the breakthroughs of a select few.
Bacon initiated the process of codifying the actions of scientists, leading to the understanding of empirical evidence and experimentation that became the building blocks of the 'scientific method'. Today, the scientific method is taught as an essential skill; it forms part of the core of all education (not just for science graduates).
Entrepreneurship as a method
What if similarly the key to unlocking the full potential of entrepreneurship's impact on society is to see entrepreneurship not as a mysterious gift, but as a method that can be understood? By being replicable, entrepreneurship would then be released from the confines of a sub-category of economics and elevated to the level of a social force.
The impact of codifying entrepreneurship has the potential to be as significant in the field of human endeavour as the scientific method was in the field of nature. This idea is still at an early stage of exploration, but already the implications are significant. Beyond simply replicating entrepreneurial endeavour, everyone could benefit from the reasoning and problem-solving skills emerging as part of this method. It has potential as a tool to unpack large problems at the centre of progressing humanity.
Even in its current early stages, the ‘entrepreneurship method’ is providing us with a powerful paradigm against which to evaluate and refine the activities undertaken within the Allan Gray Fellowship and Scholarship.
THE IMPACT OF CODIFYING ENTREPRENEURSHIP HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE AS SIGNIFICANT IN THE FIELD OF HUMAN ENDEAVOUR AS THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD WAS IN THE FIELD OF NATURE
Allan Gray Centre for Leadership Ethics
Following the launch last year of the Allan Gray Centre for Values Based Leadership at the UCT Graduate School of Business, Rhodes University will soon launch a new academic centre - the Allan Gray Centre for Leadership Ethics. This was made possible by a renewable grant from our founder, Dr Allan Gray.
The Allan Gray Centre for Leadership Ethics will investigate and conceptualise what constitutes ethical and responsible leadership, promote such leadership in diverse contexts and circumstances, and develop education and training initiatives to foster such leadership. The Centre will assist the Foundation with expert input as we continue to explore the ingredients for effectively fostering high-impact leaders and entrepreneurs.
Allan Gray Fellowship
Now in its seventh year of operation, the Foundation has 227 Allan Gray Fellows across eight campuses in South Africa. This does not include the 98 Allan Gray Fellows who have graduated over the last four years, including 44 graduates at the end of last year. The energy of the recent graduation ceremony for these individuals was captured in the closing words of one of the graduates' speeches: 'Fellows, go out into the world and electrify.'
Fellowship selection for placement in 2013 is well underway, and as part of this process, the membership of the Foundation's 100 Circle of Excellence Schools has been updated to align with the schools most consistently producing Allan Gray Fellows. As a result of this we are pleased to welcome 34 new school members (see the listing of these new members).
As part of the process of developing their entrepreneurial mindset, Allan Gray Fellows are required to engage with a number of different activities known as 'ignitions', which challenge their thinking and drive experiential learning. One such ignition is known as the 'questioning lens'. This helps Fellows to look at every area of life more critically, with a view to practising how to identify inefficiencies and to think of solutions. It aligns with the entrepreneurship method by focusing on their existing context as the starting point before moving forward.
In the first quarter of this year, we have received around 500 of these questioning lens submissions covering a range of different areas including energy, transport, security, the environment and pharmaceuticals. Many of our country's current inefficiencies and frustrations would look very different were we able to implement the innovation contained in these submissions.
FELLOWS, GO OUT INTO THE WORLD AND ELECTRIFY
Allan Gray Scholarship
In its fifth year of operation, the Foundation has 153 Allan Gray Scholars across 20 leading schools in South Africa. Since our last update, the Foundation's Scholars team has completed its selection for placement in 2013, resulting in 40 additional Allan Gray Scholarships being offered.
As these Scholars continue their journey, we were reminded again where we hope it will lead through the words of Rhodes Vice Chancellor, Dr Saleem Badat, at the 2012 Graduation. He described his vision for the new Allan Gray Centre by commenting on the impact of ethical and responsible leaders: 'They look beyond themselves. They see potential all around them, seek to build new generations of leaders who will be better than them, to provide them with experiences and space to learn lessons, and strive to be role models by living out values associated with ethical and responsible leadership.' With vehicles such as the Centre for Leadership Ethics, and tools such as the entrepreneurial method, we move closer to making this a reality.
To be further inspired by what the Foundation and our Fellows and Scholars are up to, we invite you to watch the clips on our YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/AGOFoundation