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Understanding The Entrepreneurs’ Thinking Process: Entrepreneurship Series Part 2

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Entrepreneurship Thinking

Entrepreneurs have their own way of thinking which is different from the ordinary man. You can be walking in a dark street with an entrepreneur and be complaining about load shedding while he is busy thinking about the best possible way to have the street lights always on without the use of the unreliable ZESA power.

The mind of an entrepreneur looks for positives in negative situations. This mind has its own way of thinking and processing data. You might get the same information but you can both come out with different results.

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As I was reading an Entrepreneurship book by Dr. Misrich and others, my perspective on the way entrepreneurs think was enhanced. Dr. Robert spoke about how entrepreneurs think. He talked about four established ways that interested me and I am convinced you will also find them interesting.

Given the nature of an entrepreneur’s decision-making environment, he or she must sometimes think in the following four distinct ways;

Think Structurally

Effective entrepreneurship takes cognizance of the information available about the existing markets and technology. As such, forming opportunity beliefs often requires mental leaps that are informed by the environment entrepreneurs find themselves in.

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Mental leaps can be in the form of appreciation of the availability of new or existing markets and possibly new technology that can be used to come up with new products or services for that market.

In order to have mental leaps, and ultimately think structurally, entrepreneurs make use of what they call structural similarities. These exist when the underlying mechanism of the technology resembles the underlying mechanism of the market.

The thinking process also needs to appreciate superficial similarities. These exist when basic elements of technology resemble basic elements of a market.

Let me explain what is meant by these terms in a practical sense.

Superficial similarities are concerned with comprehending only what is apparent or obvious while structural similarities look into a deeper understanding of how things work while also analyzing their makeup.

So structural thinking goes deeper into analyzing the makeup of a technology not what it was actually meant to accomplish.

Furthermore, it digs into how similar makeup can also be used in accomplishing a totally different objective.

I have seen some three-wheeled scooter that uses diesel generator engines. Security companies put sensors and alarms in houses that locate the house in the event of a break-in. Can’t the same system be used by humans when traveling so that they too can be located easily in the event of an incident?

Structural thinking is a higher order thinking that goes beyond scratching the surface as addressed in superficial similarities.

Engage In Bricolage

The world over, resources are scarce and in most cases, this limits the exploitation of opportunities. Real entrepreneurs need to come up with ways of getting around this challenge. The best way they can do it is by engaging in bricolage.

You will encounter new terminologies in this article, but it’s good to know the right terms for the right things.

The word bricolage means applying combinations of the resources at hand to new problems and opportunities.

This is making use of the already available resources and using them in a different way altogether.

Let me simplify this with an example that is closer to home. We all know that cow dung is often used as manure in fields. There is a team of sharp entrepreneurs who decided to use the same to produce biogas. Those who currently know very well that the Rural Electrification (REA) department of Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority has helped several schools in Zimbabwe utilize even pigs’ excretions in biogas generation.

Such kind of thinking would really change the world to be a place for us all.

Entrepreneurs are not limited in their thinking. They use the blue sky approach to thinking.

  • Effectuate

Business people and even ordinary men, in general, are trained to think rationally, which is good in most situations. But here is another way of thinking that entrepreneurs often use especially when tapping into opportunities and this is called effectuation.

This way of thinking was popularized by Professor Saras Sarasvathy from Darden University in Virginia. She found out that entrepreneurs do not always think through a problem in a way that starts with the desired outcome and focuses on the means to generate that outcome. Such a process is referred to as a causal process. But, entrepreneurs sometimes use an effectuation process, which means they take what they have (who they are, what they know, and whom they know) and select among possible outcomes.

An illustration of effectuation by Saras Sarasvathy (Adopted from the book Entrepreneurship by Misrich et al (2017)

Imagine a chef assigned the task of cooking dinner. There are two ways the task can be organized. In the first, the host or client picks the menu in advance. All the chef needs to do is to list the ingredients, shop for them and then actually cook the meal. This is a process of causation. It begins with a given menu and focuses on selecting effective ways of making the meal.

In the second case, the host asks the chef to look into the cupboards in the kitchen for possible ingredients and utensils and then cook a meal. Here, the chef have to imagine possible meals based on the given ingredients and utensils, select the menu, and then prepare the meal.

This is a process of effectuation. It begins with given ingredients and utensils and focuses on preparing one of many possible desirable meals with them.

Professor Sarasvathy is a great cook, so it is not surprising that her examples of these thought processes revolve around cooking.
Saras Sarasvathy’s theory of effectuation describes an approach to making decisions and performing actions in entrepreneurship processes, where you identify the next best step by assessing the resources available in order to achieve your goals, while continuously balancing these goals with your resources and actions.

According to Saras, effectuation differs from the causal logic, where there is a predetermined goal and the process to achieve it is carefully planned in accordance with a set of given resources. Sarasvathy argues that the causal logic is not suited for entrepreneurship processes that are inherently characterized by uncertainties and risks.

Cognitive Adaptability

Cognitive adaptability is defined as the ability to effectively and appropriately change decision policies (i.e. to learn) when given feedback (inputs) from the environmental context in which cognitive processing is embedded (Haynie, Shepherd, & Patzelt, 2012).

It is important that I start with some definitions as this will shed more light on the issue at hand.

Entrepreneurs need to be informed about what’s happening around them and be in a position to positively change their way of thinking in line with the changes in the environment.

Cognitive Adaptability

Cognitive adaptability describes the extent to which entrepreneurs are dynamic, flexible, self-regulating, and engaged in the process of generating multiple decision frameworks focused on sensing and processing changes in their environments and then acting on them.

Decision frameworks are organized on knowledge about people and situations that are used to help someone make sense of what is happening. Cognitive adaptability is reflected in an entrepreneur’s metacognitive awareness, that is, the ability to reflect upon, understand, and control one’s thinking and learning.

Specifically, metacognition describes a higher-order cognitive process that serves to organize what individuals know and recognize about themselves, tasks, situations, and their environments to promote effective and adaptable cognitive functioning in the face of feedback from complex and dynamic environments.

This becomes imperative to any entrepreneur who would want to remain relevant in the marketplace.

In summary, entrepreneurs have their own way of thinking that maximizes their ability to utilize opportunities that avails themselves in the marketplace. They normally do this using these four thinking processes:

1. Think structurally
2.Engaging in bricolage
3.Effectuation
4.Cognitive adaptability

I hope you are now an enlightened entrepreneur.

SUCCESS STORIES

Dr. Vere’s Coat of Many Colours

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By Gilbert Sikanyika

Doctor Kudzanai Vere belongs to the group of African young Turks determined to conquer the world and leave permanent foot-steps on the sands of life.

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I have known Dr. Vere through social interactions over the years and I have come to know him as a pragmatic, hard-working, and purpose-driven person. He sets high goals and when he attains those goals, he sets even higher goals. He places a high premium on his aspirations. He challenges himself to challenge challenges in his life. He does not take “no” for an answer…He knocks, knocks, and keeps knocking until doors of opportunities fling open before him. He is tenacious and aggressive in his daily operations. He does not wait for opportunities; instead, he creates opportunities for himself. He is a workaholic if ever there was one.

He was compelled to stop school in form 4 due to family financial constraints but that could not deter him from pursuing his dreams. He started working as a Receiving and Costing Clerk at Redstar in Nyanga in Zimbabwe and he rose through the ranks to become Branch Manager within a spell of three years. He was arguably the youngest Branch Manager heading a Blue Chips Company when he was only 22 years old.

Doctor Vere has “A coat of many colours.” He is an entrepreneur, Author, and Speaker of international repute. He enjoys developing people in areas such as Entrepreneurship, Personal Development, Practical Business Management, Organizational Development, Financial Literacy, and Leadership Development.

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Just what makes him tick

He gets inspiration from motivating himself and others. His life gets better when he impacts lives in Business related issues. He was born in a family of 10 in a remote area of Zimbabwe in Nyanga. He went to Maereka primary school, Nyatate school, and Mapako High School. He has also attended: Zimbabwe Open University, British College Of Professional Management, Coppetstone University among others. He has:

  • Diploma in Accounting
  • Diploma In Accounting In Business Management
  • Bcom Accounting
  • Certified Public Accountancy
    -Master of Arts in Leadeship and Management
    -Registered Public Accounting
    -Certified Forensic
    -Doctorate in Phylosophy in Entrepreneurship among others.

Dr. Vere is also a notable and versatile writer whose books such as Becoming A Person Of Impact and Exceed Beyond The Ordinary have blessed multitudes of people. It seems he is a “Jack of all trades and master of everything.”

His books have impacted the hordes of people from all walks of life because of the nuggets of life they carry. His presence is being felt almost everywhere and so far so good. Although he never completed formal education, he is a self-made man who has managed to school himself and has acquired a string of diplomas and degrees and was recently conferred with a Doctorial degree in recognition of his teachings and passion for entrepreneurship.


“The whole of my adult life I have been learning business at times passively and at other times actively. I have vast years of business management, ” he said. His ultimate goal in life is to become an oasis of inspiration in Business circles. He is married to a lovely lady Fortune who is the Managing Director of the family business empire. Doctor Vere is also blessed with a wife and five children.

Gilbert Sikanyika is a Writing Prophet based in Zambia

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OPPORTUNITIES

Developers/ Programmers (Graduate Trainees) Wanted X 3 : YPPZ

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Young People’s Program Zimbabwe Youth Association (YPPZ) is recruiting graduate trainees from the following disciplines:

  • Information Technology & Information Systems
  • Software Engineering
  • Computer Sciences

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21 Nelson Mandela Timeless Powerful Quotes

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nelson mandela quotes

Nelson Mandela was the first black President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999 and he was a globally respected leader, philanthropist, and politician who was also famous for his quotes and inspiring speeches. Nelson Mandela is regarded as one of the best world leaders and his quotes that span from education, leadership, social justice, and inequality continue to be recited, used, and cherished even many years past his death.

Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, and died on December 5, 2013. Mandela immersed himself in official talks to end white minority rule and in 1991 was elected ANC President to replace his ailing friend, Oliver Tambo. In 1993 he and President FW de Klerk jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize and on 27 April 1994, he voted for the first time in his life after having spent served 27 years in prison, split between Robben Island, Pollsmoor Prison, and Victor Verster Prison.

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“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

“Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

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“Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.”

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

“Difficulties break some men but make others.”

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

“Young people must take it upon themselves to ensure that they receive the highest education possible so that they can represent us well in the future as future leaders.”

“No single person can liberate a country. You can only liberate a country if you act as a collective.”

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

“When the history of our times is written, will we be remembered as the generation that turned our backs in a moment of global crisis or will it be recorded that we did the right thing?”

“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.”

“A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of.”

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

“Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.”

“Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.”

“When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.”

“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”

“I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.”

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