What is a good idea? The Power of Social Proof in Entrepreneurship

What is a good idea? It’s the billion dollar question for every entrepreneur. When asked this question, we tend to try to answer in absolute terms. We assume that an idea is some kind of abstract object “out there. In practice, experienced entrepreneurs have a very different answer: an idea is good… if someone is somehow willing to pay for it. Call it the social proof of a good idea.


Having a good idea is not the essence of entrepreneurial success

The entrepreneurial landscape is often focused on the pursuit of exceptional ideas. This translates into a process in which the creation of a business requires a great idea, which is then implemented in a so-called execution phase. This is followed by corporate idea contests, “ideation” seminars, and other pointless but fun activities. But if you look at successful companies throughout history, you’ll find that their initial idea wasn’t all that important, and often not all that original. So how does one go about initiating an innovative venture that will thrive?


Is Meta the new Kodak? Eight history lessons on the necessity and risks of big innovation bets

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, is doing badly. The weakness of Facebook, its legacy business, and doubts about the relevance of the colossal investment made in the metaverse, a system for creating a virtual world, call into question the company’s strategy. The combination of the weakness of the legacy business and the difficulty of launching a new business is not unlike that of Kodak twenty years ago. A look at the history of major bets made by companies to launch or renew themselves is useful to better understand the issues facing meta and to avoid rash judgments.


Entrepreneurship and human action: Why the award received by Darden’s Saras Sarasvathy is important

Saras Sarasvathy, the originator of the entrepreneurial theory of effectuation, has just received the prestigious Swedish Global Award for Entrepreneurship Research. Organized since 1996 by the Swedish Foundation for Small Business Research (FSF) and the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, the award recognizes researchers who made major contributions to entrepreneurship research. She joins such great researchers as Sidney Winter, Shaker Zahra, Kathleen Eisenhardt, Scott Shane, Israel Kirzner, William Gartner, William Beaumol or Zoltan Acs and David Audretsch. The prize is the recognition of more than twenty years of efforts to promote a radically different approach to entrepreneurship. But its significance goes far beyond that, as effectuation is above all a vision of human action and freedom.


The public decision-maker in uncertainty: towards the technical democracy

The generalized uncertainty in which our societies are immersed, combined with their growing complexity, undermines the authority of experts whose knowledge is more easily questioned. This is particularly true for public decision-makers, who are now faced with systematic challenges to their decisions, whatever the field. Understanding the causes and stakes of what some call “technical democracy”, but also its potential dangers, is becoming essential.


Responding to the Covid-19 Crisis: Three Courses of Action for a CEO

[Version française ici]

In these times of coronavirus epidemic, I have the opportunity to talk to people from very different backgrounds (emergency doctors, researchers, self-employed people, entrepreneurs, retirees, business leaders, etc.) to understand how they “live” the current crisis both personally and professionally. From these discussions, I can draw three courses of action that a CEO can usefully adopt in the face of the extreme and unprecedented situation we are experiencing. (more…)

The Three Principles that Entrepreneurs Use to Control their Risk

How do entrepreneurs deal with risk? A persistent and widely held belief is that entrepreneurs are risk-takers; that they like to take risks. Ask anyone on the street or in a classroom and they will tell you: “An entrepreneur is someone who is bold, who likes to take risks”. But nothing could be further from the truth. Entrepreneurs don’t like risk; no study has ever shown that. What studies do show is that while entrepreneurs are willing to take risks because they recognize that they are necessary, they try to control them. To do this, they use three principles that are at the core of the entrepreneurial theory called effectuation, proposed twenty years ago by Darden professor Saras Sarasvathy.  


Stop Bothering your Employees with Entrepreneurship

It is decided, the theme of your next company convention will be “All entrepreneurs!” You’ll talk about Google, Tesla, Facebook, plus a Chinese champion for good measure. The manager of your Lab in San Francisco will come to talk about the latest local innovations. You will show a film that will explain “the six qualities of a good entrepreneur” with rock opera music. After a closing speech by the leader who, in essence, will say that it is only a matter of courage, the roadmap will be clear.


The power of ordinary: Lessons in entrepreneurship from Madame Tao’s Story

Amid the buzz of fundraising, pitches, startups, and hackathons, it’s easy to overlook the ordinary nature of most entrepreneurial endeavors. We tend to perceive entrepreneurs as extraordinary visionaries, assuming they possess innate greatness and a clear purpose. But the truth is far from these assumptions. The actual landscape of entrepreneurship contradicts the media’s sensational portrayal. The story of “madame” Tao Huabi is a prime example of this reality.