Learn, Do Not Copy!

Importance of entrepreneurial theory and skills in adult care services

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

NOTE: Although this page has been marked as complete, it has not yet been peer-reviewed or quality-assured, therefore it should be considered a ‘first draft’ and any information should be fact-checked independently.

For this assessment criterion, you will be required to evaluate the importance of entrepreneurial skills within yourself, others and your own service provision. Some areas that you will want to consider are included below.

The difference between entrepreneurship and innovation

As we explore this unit in more detail, the terms entrepreneurship and innovation will be referenced regularly, so it is important to have a good understanding of what the two words mean. Let’s start with a couple of academic definitions:

Entrepreneurship, in its narrowest sense, involves capturing ideas, converting them
into products and/or services and then building a venture to take the product to
market

– Johnson, D. (2001), “What is innovation and entrepreneurship? Lessons for large organizations”, Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 33 No. 4, pp. 135-40.

 

[Innovation]…is the means by which the entrepreneur either creates new wealth-producing resources or endows existing resources with enhanced potential for creating wealth.

– Drucker, P. (2002), “The Discipline of Innovation“, Harvard Business Review

So, innovation is the creative process of developing a new idea or way of working, whilst entrepreneurship is identifying the possible business opportunities for innovation and, if viable, introducing it to the market.

Take this website (DSDWEB) as an example. The innovation was to improve the learning and development of care workers by providing free, well-organised online study guides for care qualifications. The entrepreneurship side of it was risking my own time and money to write and publish the study guides and then recoup my costs and make a small profit through advertising. I could have had the idea (innovation) but done nothing about it and not exploited the opportunity (entrepreneurship). Similarly, it is very difficult to be an entrepreneur if you do not have any innovations to capitalise on.

What is meant by an entrepreneurial culture?

An organisation’s culture is comprised of its vision, values and beliefs, therefore an entrepreneurial culture is one that embraces the values of entrepreneurship, such as innovation, creativity and risk-taking. Or, as explained by Peter Drucker in his book Innovation and Entrepreneurship, “An entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.

Entrepreneurship is not just for leaders – by fostering an entrepreneurial culture you will support others to be creative and innovative by encouraging them to voice their ideas, try new things and take calculated risks. As well as creating opportunities, this will also empower your team members and help them to feel valued and respected.

What is meant by an innovative culture?

If an organisation has an innovative culture, it will encourage the discussion of new ideas (particularly those that ‘think outside the box’) in order to improve services. An innovative culture also embraces change and is continuously striving to make positive improvements – team members working in an innovative culture will not be averse to changes in working practices.

How to develop a culture that supports innovation, change, redevelopment and/or growth

As previously stated, an innovative working culture will be one that welcomes changes. As a leader, it will be your responsibility to ensure that team members understand the reasons for change and to keep them involved in the process so that they are able to take ownership and accountability of any innovations. In addition, you will need to strike the right balance between innovation and day-to-day operations.

Of course, you will want team members to come forward with ideas and give them a prime role in testing and implementing their idea so that they can maintain ownership of it. You may wish to encourage team members to take risks and test out their ideas for smaller innovations, however, you may not want them to do this without your approval for bigger changes – the idea may be poorly thought-out or there may be something similar already being trialled elsewhere in the organisation. Therefore, you will need clear guidelines that team members and yourself can follow when there are new innovations. Similarly, there should be tolerance if the idea does not work out in the discussion, planning or implementation stages – nothing will stop team members from coming forward with ideas more than if they think they will be ridiculed or disciplined for it.

How to positively encourage and exploit entrepreneurship and innovation in others for the benefit of care services

Creating the Culture for Innovation (Maher et al, 2009) lays out a practical guide for NHS leaders for creating a culture of innovation. The whole publication is well worth reading – in brief, however, the guide identifies seven principles or ‘dimensions’ for cultivating innovation within an organisation. They are:

  • Relationships – diversity, transparency, openness, team-working, valuing everyone’s input
  • Risk-taking – trying out new ideas, learning from mistakes (rather than punishing)
  • Resources – providing resources of time, funding and authority to act
  • Knowledge – a broad base of knowledge should be accessible to team members from which to derive ideas
  • Goals – clear and accessible strategic goals allow team members to know what should be achieved without boundaries about how it should be achieved
  • Tools – deliberate processes and tools to develop capabilities in team members to innovate
  • Rewards – individualised recognition for innovation

How to maintain a culture that supports growth and change

A culture that supports growth and change can only be maintained if the principles of innovation and entrepreneurship are demonstrated and reinforced over the long-term. For example, if team members are reprimanded for their ideas that do not work out, it will discourage others from using their initiative.

As a leader that values innovation, you must have the attitude that mistakes do happen and that learning from them is more positive and productive than punishment.

Similarly, you must back up your words with the tools, knowledge and resources that team members need to make innovations within their practice.