Entrepreneurial Learning: Secret Ingredient's for Business Success: Entrepreneurs Are Skilled at Using Learning to Achieve Their Goals and Fulfill a Vision. the Common Learning Patterns Seen in Entrepreneurial Business Leaders Can Be Adopted
MacPherson, Mike, Talent Development
In 1954, a milkshake machine salesman named Ray Kroc negotiated a deal with the McDonald brothers to take their restaurant concept national. In the first franchise, opened near Kroc's home in Chicago, he and partner Art Jacobs attempted to perfect important aspects of the McDonald brothers' operation. Although the restaurant made money from the start, the new owners encountered a significant problem: they could not duplicate the unique McDonald's french fry.
After extensive trial and error, the fries in the experimental restaurant were still turning out mushy. The idea of a national restaurant chain was based on repeating the McDonald brothers' standards for taste and quality, but Kroc could not even duplicate these qualities in the first restaurant.
Kroc tried everything. Finally, frustrated and nearing the end of his patience, he contacted the experts at the Potato and Onion Association and explained his problem.
Through testing and rigorous problem solving, they finally discovered that in California, the McDonald brothers stored their potatoes in chicken-wire bins located within a shaded garage outside of their restaurant. Without knowing it, the McDonalds had created a natural curing process that allowed the desert breeze to blow over the potatoes, drying them out and transforming the sugars to starch. With the help of the people from the Potato and Onion Association, Kroc devised a curing system of his own.
The rest is fast food restaurant history. In just 22 years, from 1954 to 1976, McDonald's surpassed 1 billion dollars in total revenue.
While this story may sound simplistic--after all, it is about duplicating fries--it reflects this article's key idea: outstanding entrepreneurs are driven by compelling visions and learning, and the creative capacity to acquire and use information is instrumental to business success.
Kroc used problem solving, questioning, reading, thinking, listening, and experts to solve the french fry dilemma. It was a process of self-directed learning, or learning from experience, and team problem solving--clearly a best practice model in adult and organizational learning.
So what else can we learn about how entrepreneurs learn? After reviewing more than 30 autobiographies and biographies of world-class entrepreneurs and business leaders, I found that there are similar patterns to both what they learn and how they learn it. This article presents common themes in entrepreneurial learning, a key ingredient in the recipe for business success.
WHAT ENTREPRENEURS LEARN
Entrepreneurs exemplify nine common areas of learning content: acquiring business-specific knowledge; learning business mechanics; learning about context, customers, and the competition; studying people; studying leadership principles; reflecting on company values; and discovering how to create learning organizations.
1| Acquiring business-specific knowledge. Take a moment to think of a statement or word that describes your business: for example, aviation, coffee, computers, golf, diamonds, oil, insurance, or real estate. Now ask yourself if you know enough about the word. If you answer no, you have already pinpointed a gap in your business knowledge.
Would you open a quilting store if you had never picked up a knitting needle or a golf store if you knew nothing about golf? All entrepreneurs know their "stuff"--their main content area.
One day, 12-year-old Henry Ford and his father were walking along a dusty road near their farm in Michigan when young Ford saw his first steam engine. He was captivated and developed what became a lifelong passion for engines and automobiles. Ford started a shop in a garage on his father's farm, studied for a machinist's trade, read everything pertaining to the emerging field of automobiles, and built his own prototypes from scratch. Through continuous learning, Ford acquired vast knowledge of engines and automobiles. …