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How you can use enterprise to improve your college

31 March 2017

You don’t have to be a huge company in Silicon Valley to benefit from being enterprising. It isn’t about the risks and extensive budgets. Any organisation, in fact anyone, can be enterprising and there are a number of ways that you can encourage everyone in your college to be more enterprising to make change happen. Being enterprising is about improving the organisation, taking a new idea and implementing it to improve what you already do, offer your services to a new market or improve the use of valuable resources. How can you implement enterprise into your college? In the first instance any change must come the senior team. It needs to be an approach which you are seen to support and encourage. Enterprise is about enabling a bottom up approach to the development of ideas and you need to provide the staff with the tools they need to do this. Sometimes staff are full of excellent ideas that are simply left untapped. They are locked away in the head of the staff member and unfortunately never see the light of day. These ideas are so important to share though – after all the staff are on the front line understanding what the business wants and needs. Encourage their ideas and let them know that no idea will be dismissed – even the not so good ones. If people feel more involved and that their ideas are welcome they are more likely to put forward other ideas. But why stop at just involving the staff. You probably have a wealth of possible enterprising ideas in your students. All that’s needed is a structured way of people considering and developing their ideas. Here are just a few ways you could try developing enterprise in your college. Innovation days - The sessions are used to play around with ideas and potentially develop those ideas which may or may not be further considered within a business plan. Enterprise Champions - These are staff members who have been trained to know how to support, encourage and mentor staff members who have an idea. These individuals are known by all staff members and anyone is able to work with one to develop their idea ready for consideration. Student Champions - Are there students that have a particular skill, that like to voice their ideas and opinions or those that emerge as natural leaders? Is it worth mixing up staff and student champions to produce what is best for the organisation? It’s worth considering. Hackathon - Often used in tech companies but also banks and universities, a hackathon is an event, usually over a solid 24 hour period, where staff members from various sections of an organisation are brought together to consider and develop ideas. My message is this - don’t be afraid to try enterprise within your college. This may involve an element of risk but if you don’t take a risk occasionally how will you know what you, your team and your students are capable of? There are ways of mitigating this and ensuring that there is a way in which ideas can be developed, assessed and implemented is key. But without trying and moving forward your greater risk is standing still or indeed falling behind other education providers. Rebecca Jones is a business speaker, author and trainer on enterprise mindset. If you would like to gain more tips for how to improve enterprise in your organisation Rebecca will be speaking at the AoC Finance Conference and Exhibition on the 17 May.