Working so often in universities and schools it never ceases to amaze me how many of these establishments claim to teach entrepreneurship. However, upon further examination, most of these institutions actually teach business studies but just change the name from business to entrepreneurship.
One of the most alarming things I discovered was at Harvard where the Entrepreneurship programme has a mass of full electives but the one area where it only counts for half a course is the one on creativity!
One of the key components of entrepreneurship to me is that of creativity. Entrepreneurship is closely aligned with innovation of all sorts and to get innovative you really need to be creative and think outside of the box.
Of course, this is extremely difficult to do if you have been through the traditional education system where creative subjects are limited to an odd period a week and are even then taught like an academic subject. But then education has long believed that the only true measurement of success is the examination. If you cannot measure and mark it you should not teach it!
Little wonder then that universities the world over, and some of the most esteemed at that, look at entrepreneurship as a key need for the 21st century and try and apply their traditional teach, measure mark, award mentality to it.
However, my title did have a BUT...... at the end of it. That is because the other part of that sentence is that creativity and innovation can be encouraged. Instead of believing that creativity is the prerogative of the chosen few we should be showing people that it is the natural gift given at birth to all people. They should recognise that the gifted few are the ones that were allowed to continue being creative.
Not too long ago I was approached by an older woman that enjoyed needlework and making her own clothes. Because she believed what they told her years ago in school, namely that she could not draw, she always sent away for paper dress patterns.
Having seen some of the things that she had altered so successfully without a pattern I suggested she started designing her own clothes. She told me very quickly that she could not draw. I quickly went onto the internet and printed off some outline bodies and suggested she started drawing her designs on them.
In no time she was designing and making clothes that she had created from her own innate creative ability. Suddenly she realised that she had a flair for design and in no time the confidence grew. No longer was her creativity limited to the sewing room. This creativity manifest itself in the kitchen where she started to make meals without a recipe and recently she did a complete interior design that she implemented in her new home.
Even as recently as last week she explained how she had created two designs of leather shoes that she was getting a cobbler to make for her. Even better, her friends compliment her on her design work and even ask where she bought things or who did it!
Not only is it a real achievement for someone who has spent a lifetime being held back by what the educators told her, it also shows that creativity is not the province only of the young. You can regain your creativity at any age and you don't need a teacher of creativity but you do need your creativity encouraged.