16
Oct
10

The University of Edinburgh are in the game – are you?

I’m probably being a bit over sensitive but I’m getting a bit “cheesed” off with our political and esteemed thought leaders. And for “cheesed” you can replace some of the letters with “p” and “i” if you don’t mind some of that good ol’ cussing stuff.

So what’s bugging me? Well it’s all the chatter about how the private sector will lead us out of the recession, the talk of the millions of hard working SME companies in the UK, the praise that the Small Business commmunity is the backbone of the economy, the newly declared faith that innovation is the way forward and the confirmation that it is nimble small businesses that will deliver innovative new products and services. Like I said – maybe there isn’t as much of this chatter as I fear – maybe I’m a bit over sensitive to it.

I don’t have a problem with the statements – I whole heartedly agree with all of them. The problem I have is with who are saying them. I’ve read (clearly read too many) articles from politicians and commentators on how the private sector must/will lead the way out of the sorry mess we are in as an economy. Cheers guys, I’m sure it’s well meant – but why not join in and get an innovative, private business going?

The point that seems to be missed in all the chatter, rhetoric and analysis is that private business has no choice – it has to get on with it. It has to work hard, grow, work hard, be innovative, work hard, be creative, work hard, take risks, work hard – it has no choice, it never has had the choice. So when cheerleaders suddenly appear on the sideliness cheering on the private and SME sector I have to wonder why and whether the other league games that day have all been postponed. 

Rather than standing on the sidelines cheering I’d like the leaders and commentators to get in the game, to kick the ball, to defend the back post, to dive in the penalty box if required.

Well that’s simply impossible, isn’t it? How can people who are not in the private sector get involved? The public sector and the government don’t do business – do they?

Need an example to show what the public sector can actually do? Well look at Edinburgh Univeristy – a 600 year old institution as tied to history and inescapable inertia as any UK institution could be – but it’s in the game (maybe not in a Terry Butcher, blood covered, mad sort of way – but it’s in the game). And if they can get a kick at the ball then what’s stopping everyone else. What’s stopping you?

Informatics have been running a serious of business coaching events that bring auld and new heids together to share business experience and to offer advice to one another. Think about that… a University acting as the facilitator for business to talk to business. That’s rather good, a bit like walking onto the park and saying “need a player?”.

The events combine classroom workshops led by Ken Morse (do the Google thing) with an evening session where invited guests talk to the particpants and assist with “pitch” coaching. The beauty of this is that the guests and the attendees could be easily interchanged – many of the attendees already run successful businesses, many/all of the guests are still working hard at making their current business successful.

The sessions (for the best part) are ego less examples of one to one discussions and support. I’ve been along as a guest a couple of times – I come away refreshed and enthused that a culture of sharing business experience (Knowledge Transfer even) is emerging thanks to the efforts of an academic institution. That’s noteworthy and it shows that those that cheer from the sidelines don’t need to – they need to get a strip on and join in.

So if your reading this and suspect you’re one of those cheering on the private sector from the sidelines get you boots on – the good news is that  it’s 5 million a side, no need to ask for a game, just join in. You don’t need to be an Archie Gemmil or Terry Butcher – you just need to get in the game. 

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