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The enterprising mindset

In my last post, we explored how Design entrepreneurship combines science, culture, and values.  This has led me to conceive a new approach that we can only call designerly ways of venturing’, one that involves mindsets, human sense perception, cognition and reasoning.

This harkens back to Nigel Cross’ original terms ‘designerly ways of knowing’ in 1981.[i]

We should speak more properly of mindsets in the plural.  The mindsets of the design entrepreneur include enterprise, empathy, critical thinking, and logic. Let’s talk about the enterprising mindset.

Many people misinterpret the word ‘enterprise’. Rather than being some firm or company, today the word enterprise (or enterprising) is used as an ‘attitude to life, an attitude of exploring, of developing, of leading and of taking initiatives’.[ii] It is no accident that the Star Trek crew commanded the ‘Starship Enterprise’ using such entrepreneurial traits as: 

  • ‘Boldly go where no [one] has gone before’.
  • ‘Space… the final frontier’
  • ‘To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations’.

Enterprise—as in an ‘enterprising personality’—is the process of identifying, developing and bringing a vision to life, be it an innovative idea or simply a better way of doing something, in all fields of human endeavor.

Think of how many self-employed professions there are—artists, photographers, musicians, designers, writers, financial advisors, analysts and interior designers. Beyond this, think of the creative and innovative people in arts, civil society, not-for-profits, community trusts and social enterprises.  From artist to zoologist, some people have the enterprising mentality.

An enterprising mindset is marked by imagination, initiative and readiness to undertake new endeavours; by a confident focus on a particular opportunity and by the ability to quickly act – all the while experimenting how to shape the opportunity within an social enterprise or business model.

From the perspective of trait theory, the behaviours of taking initiatives, seeking opportunities, taking responsibility, taking risks beyond security, and having the tenacity to push an idea through to reality combine into a special perspective that permeates entrepreneurs from all walks of life.[iii]

Starting a venture or any kind of (ad)venture — be it social, business, community, or environmental – requires an enterprising mind-set. Here is a list of competencies of an enterprising mindset:

  • Self-efficacy—‘I can do this, and I can make a difference.’
  • Collaboration—‘I know how to build a team and share roles.’
  • Identify opportunities—‘I can spot and validate problems and solutions.’
  • Empathy—‘I can stand in the shoes of another and see their perspective.’
  • Design perspective—‘I am a master of human-centered design.’
  • Communication—‘I can tell a compelling story about an opportunity.’
  • Representation—‘I can build what I can imagine and get feedback from others.’[iv]
The enterprising mindset
The enterprising mindset (c) entreVersity

(NBC Television [Public domain])

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