Nulkaba, NSW, 1 Nov 2019: At a luncheon held in the magnificent new Activate Centre at St Philip’s Christian College, Cessnock, leaders from across the regional spectrum gathered to support the launch of the St Philip’s Entrepreneurship Network. Before an audience graced by Mayor Bob Pynsent, the executives from the Cessnock Chamber of Commerce (such as Clint Ekert and Bronwyn Musgrove), and other educational and business leaders from the area, SPCCC’s Principal, Darren Cox, explained the need to develop alternative pathways for regional cohorts of students - the need for enhanced engagement, better preparation for life after school, and the ability to have real choices which help retain the brightest and the best in the region. SPCCC, he noted, was proud to extend yet again the Hub arrangement by which Alphacrucis brought its post-secondary expertise to bear upon a regional issue, so contributing to flourishing communities.
Principal Cox then introduced his speakers for the day: Lachlan, a young man just finishing his HSC this year, who was aspiring to enrol in an entrepreneurship program at the University of Sydney, Geoff Walker, a long-serving regional businessman, advisor and member of the Cessnock Chamber of Commerce, and Prof. Mark Hutchinson, Dean of the Faculty of Business, Arts, Social Sciences and Education at Alphacrucis College.
Mr Walker built on the very apt definitions of entrepreneurship which Lachlan introduced, speaking about how embedded entrepreneurship was to life for people in the country. An ‘entrepreneurship of necessity’ was born of the conditions of rural life, and their relationships to the city - Mr Walker’s parents were thus ‘entrepreneurs of necessity’, developing new ways of bringing water to waterless blocks, early approaches to self-funding real estate development, local processing plants, and the like. As a local radio presenter who has committed his tireless work in the community including work with the Nulkaba P&C Association and the Cessnock Chamber of Commerce, Geoff had followed in the footsteps of his family, achievements recognized early this year when he was named Cessnock Citizen of the Year. The skills embedded in the Alphacrucis Diploma of Business program were, Mr Walker said, precisely the skills which entrepreneurs did not always seek, but which (in his experience) they needed in order to survive and thrive. He was there, he said, to commend and support the program.
Professor Hutchinson described the intended program, and what it would do for the region. Embedded non-accredited, professional and school alternative pathway options would be connected to work-based learning and formal Diploma pathways for young people. The launch of an entrepreneurship hub at SPCC Cessnock came, he said, out of research into social capital, ie. the strength that aspirational networks of people bring to one another through the formation of communities of thought and action. Trust, good social networks, mentors, experience in well connected industry opportunities - all of these can be shown to improve the life opportunities of young people, as well as the socioeconomic standing of whole regions. The network being launched at SPCCC would provide young people with the opportunity to engage in more fulfilling, aligned and fruitful educational options, have a legup when they enter the workforce, and avoid much of the artificial stress and time wasting which comes with the normal matriculation pathways.
More importantly, Professor Hutchinson noted, however, was the fact that this network will act as a mechanism for channeling through the school’s large and growing network of parents and friends the very considerable resources which are available through the regional Chambers of Commerce, the RDA, government small business offices, and the like. SPCC Cessnock already has a widespread and very well-earned reputation for innovative and life-changing education - this is one more string to its bow, but one which will do more than just change individual lives. It will, among other very good efforts (some of which are headed by those in this room) help enrich the lives of the community and many who never join the school’s community.
Those present were asked to consider whether they could support the Network by becoming business mentors, providing space or instruction for entrepreneurial students, or even support the program financially. There was a warm and congratulatory response. In 2020, the Network will commence training mentors, building formal pathways, inserting business and entrepreneurship skills into the region, and the like. The school and AC would work with the Chambers of Commerce, in particular, to build the infrastructure for student work-integrated learning and cooperative startups. Students will choose options in April 2020, a number of pre-skilling events will occur in 2020, and formal teaching will commence in 2021.
For those interested in learning more about the St Philip’s Cessnock Entrepreneurship program, please contact: Rachel Brinks, School of Business, BASE, Alphacrucis College, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At a recent SAP Success Factors conference, Amy Wilson (SuccessFactors' Head of Product and Applications Engineering) referred to the observed gap between organizational data and the human motivation data which underpins actual performance margins in organizations. Having bought Qualtrics, the metrics framework for assessing the human experience of organizations and their products, SAP is increasingly aware of the gap between what their orgdata is telling them, and what their employees are actually experiencing. The result can be unexpected resignations, facilitated transitions to competitor firms, or staff burnout.
Qualtrics measures customer and staff experience, and turns that data into actionable insights weighted for 'the biggest impact'. Increasingly, suggests Wilson, the aim needs to be not how to force employees into 'alignment', but how to build effective teams built on human experience journeys. The new organization is built around 'Human Experience Management' (HXM) which supercharges the experiences and motivations of staff, 'connecting to hearts and mind, giving people a voice to enable them to make it their own, and connect and work with others.'
As Claire Madden, an expert in the transition of millennials into the workplace, has recently noted, this reflects the pressing need for responses to an increasing challenge for the traditional organization, which has built its competitiveness around using people as 'resources', and creating controllable, artificial 'economies of action'. Millennials, on the other hand, strive after authenticity and learn by throwing themselves into experiences. The SAP approach is one way of addressing this, but may well have unexpected outcomes. After all, the same data which is generated to humanize the corporation, is effectively being used to control and mobilize its staff. At what point does the technical facilitation of human functions become seen as mere mechanization, and so participating in the inauthenticity which underpins millennial disengagement? Keeping the balance right will become a critical skill in organizational leadership.
For more on Claire Madden's work on Millennials and the Workplace, see:
Each year, the Silicon Valley Bank (a financial organization specifically oriented towards funding startups) polls entrepreneurs and developers in a variety of countries. The result is the 2019 SVB Startup Outlook Report. While Australia is not covered in the Report, Canada – a medium sized country with a commodity profile not unlike Australia’s, is. Some of the highlights from Canadian startups are as follows:
"We need a solid pipeline of employees, and that depends on an open immigration policy and universities that turn out more world-class employees."
The emphases on AI, Life Sciences, and the skill shortage issues are also themes widely reflected in Australia. As Michael Taylor notes for the Australian Industry Group: ‘Australia is facing a major issue in terms of employment due to a lack of skills, especially within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) area.’ (AiGroup Blog)
References are from the 2019 STARTUP OUTLOOK: CANADA REPORT, which may be read in detail, here. https://www.svb.com/startup-outlook-report-2019/canada
For a starter reflection on What it Means to be a Christian Entrepreneur, see this post from Gary G. Hoag, who blogs at Generosity Monk and is President/CEO of Global Trust Partners. Hoag starts properly with the internal disciplines, matched by the disciplining behaviours, which help entrepreneurs 'stay on track' and manage anxiety, fear and doubt. Perhaps most important, however, is the observation about identity - humans naturally deal with their sense of purpose by wrapping themselves in an identity fitted to their stage of life. This is helpful in the short term - as adaptive behaviour - but it is essentially reactive, and will take the entrepreneur on the wild ride of the ups and downs of business life.
A Christian entrepreneur, on the other hand, bases their identity on the imago dei, the belief that they are imprinted with the image of God, and hold value as a child of the original Maker and Creator. Failure is not final and time is always enough, as God works all things (good and bad) to the good of those who love Him. As my colleague Rikk Watts often declares, ideas are not made in the image of God, people are. The 'how' to live life thus flows not out of abstract laws or principles of business, but out of the character of God, and that character which this experience of walking with Him forms in us. Business is a form of making and creating, and so best models itself against the Maker and the Creator.
This takes a myriad of expressions. Some, like the Seed Incubator, seek to produce social business outcomes which address intractable problems. Others build businesses around the 'triple bottom line', a concept which has now left the theological space and been absorbed by social ventures in general. Yet others seek just to be the best bosses they can be, building sustainable communities of practice and formation.
If you would like to build your understanding on this, you could do worse than connect to a very fine lecture series by Paul Williams and Rikk Watts at Regent College some years ago. The Marketplace Institute and the Reframe program were leaders for their time.
Brett R. Smith, Michael J. Conger, Jeffery S. McMullen and Mitchell J. Neubert, "Why believe? The promise of research on the role of religion in entrepreneurial action", Journal of Business Venturing Insights, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbvi.2019.e00119.
This new article by Smith, Conger et. al. (2019) comes out of the excellent work being done at Baylor University on the interaction between faith and entrepreneurial action. At the individual level, their recent work "extends prior research focused beyond business and personal economic motivations (e.g., Shepherd and Patlzelt, 2017)", to ask the question as to why people of faith engage in entrepreneurial activities. They land on the idea that integration of action and belief is a major motivator - but what are the positive, and the potentially negative (the 'dark side') aspects of this sort of integration? The authors identify a number of religious antecedents of opportunity beliefs along with a range of motivating outcomes for Christian involvement in entrepreneurial activity. The antecedents include:
This presents both a problem and an opportunity for the literature. There is, the authors indicate, a growing variation in the range of individuals within the entrepreneurial ecosystem [i.e., entrepreneurs, investors, accelerators and clergy], who are seeking to integrate religion and entrepreneurship, leading to an initial foundation for what they call ‘religious organizing.’ The authors suggest that there are three theoretical perspectives (identity, sensemaking, and boundary) that may contribute to a stronger theoretical foundation for advancing research on religion and entrepreneurship.
The growth of AC campuses in Finland has created a demand for Stephen Fogarty's pathbreaking studies of volunteer mobilization and leadership. This Finnish version of Light a Fire was launched this week in Helsinki.
Representatives of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (Chartered Accountants ANZ) and CPA Australia recently undertook a detailed review of the Alphacrucis College Accounting program, and gave it the tick of approval until the end 2024. This is a rare and prestigious achievement, given the relatively small number of faith-based providers in Australia who have achieved this standard. Congratulations from the Faculty go to our colleague, Assoc. Prof. Philip Lee, who led this outstanding process, and continue to lead in the areas of quality delivery of faith-integrated Business courses.
In his recent paper 'SLBS-6: Validation of a Short Form of the Servant Leadership Behavior Scale', Dr Mulyadi Robin (head of the AC Leadership program) continues the work on Servant Leadership that he began under the leading scholar in the area, Sen Sendjaya. As recognized by his award of a Greenleaf Scholar's award at the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership (Seton Hall University, New Jersey), in this Dr Robin has applied high level statistical validation approaches to a commonly used 'short form' Servant Leadership Behaviour Scale. Nathan (2013) has demonstrated its usefulness in understanding youth leadership development, and Henning (2016) in perceived job satisfaction. Sendjaya, Sarros, and Santora (2008) point to the manner in which SL deals with the chronic problems evinced in the demise during the 2000s 'of Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, and scores of other companies in the United States', and the need for a fundamental rethinking of 'the bottom lines' on which businesses run.
The psychometric properties of the SLBS-6 were examined on the basis of seven studies, and the construct validity of the Scale tested using a combination of all samples. Analyses of all datasets demonstrated the internal consistency reliability, criterion-related validity, and construct validity of the scale. As such, the study presents the SLBS-6 remains the shortest holistic measure of servant leadership to date that can be used with confidence for research and training purposes.