Entrepreneurial Mindset – Making a Difference Through Exploratory and Agile Behaviours

John Woods: MRII Council Member & Sales and Product Manager at Bayer

The term ‘Entrepreneur is commonly utilised in describing successful businesspersons and is usually associated with positive outcomes and achievement. There is an apparent prestige associated with the term, and connotations around development of unique products or services. But what is it about the behaviours and mindset of these successful businesspersons that make them so successful? And can we apply some of these behaviours and that mindset for personal or professional success in our own lives? I am confident that we can, and more importantly, I believe that we should!

The first step in adopting an ‘Entrepreneurial Mindset is to ensure that our minds are truly open to change and to try to visualise what that change would look like through the eyes and minds of others. Entrepreneurs see problems as opportunities, and they obsess with details, scenarios and have a vision of what the future will look like through the deployment of new products, services, or practices. This positive, open-to-change, problem-solving and vision-driven mentality is crucial for the development and creation of solutions which are designed to address a high-value need or gap.

Purpose is a critical factor in the adoption of an entrepreneurial mindset, and it needs to be crystal-clear and precise. Entrepreneurs have clear purposes and have an everlasting laser focus on what it is that they are looking to achieve and how they will try to achieve it. Having a clear purpose is a crucial step in the development of any innovation, and this purpose guides and directs decisions along the way as the innovation is being created and implemented. If we develop a crystal-clear purpose, we can use this as a guiding light as challenges emerge in the creation and implementation phases. To fully understand our purpose – we need to ask ourselves questions like:

  • What am I trying to achieve and why have I decided to address this problem?
  • How am I trying to address this problem?
  • What is my vision for the future post implementation of a solution?

Another key component in the adoption of an Entrepreneurial Mindset is to be Agile, and to allow ourselves the freedom to amend, or to re-consider a proposed innovation based upon trend analyses or new insights. Entrepreneurs do not consider this pause, change or adaptation as a failure, but more of an opportunity to reduce risk and to funnel all relevant information into creating the best possible version of the proposed solution. Another key element within this agile mindset is to try to leave personal beliefs and thoughts to one side, and to be open to understanding and learning from industry experts, proposed end-users, and academics. This is not to say that we should avoid personal judgement or to be guided by our previous experiences, but more of a willingness to hear conflicting views and insights and to use this information in a positive way to create a better solution.

Another key ingredient in the adoption of an entrepreneurial mindset is to foster an ‘Exploratory Mindset’. This can be achieved through a consistent curiosity, eagerness to learn more and a willingness to consider solutions that are truly unique and different. I believe that this mindset is best exemplified by children who are seeking to solve problems, having a constant curiosity, and looking at all possible solutions to solve problems. As a father to young children, I can attest to these exploratory behaviours in solving problems at our home, driven by a constant curiosity, willingness to learn more, and finally a consideration of all options, especially the ones never thought of before. Children do not consider the impossible, they dare to dream and to allow those thoughts to have a welcome zone in their brains. We can learn a lot from how children address and solve problems, by allowing our minds to explore and to think without limits. This exploratory mindset can allow us to consider options previously not considered and when we connect these options back to reality, perhaps there are blue-sky ideas that we can develop or create. Disrupting the status quo and addressing problems in a different way is a key ingredient in the success of entrepreneurs.

Finally, but by no means least, entrepreneurs ensure that they get things done and are not caught up in the ‘Intent-Execution gap’. The intent-execution gap emerges when we intend on solving problems through an intervention, but we never get to execute or launch the solution due to constraints or challenges. It is crucial to continue through challenges, both internally and externally, and find a way to execute the solution if it is still deemed of value and meets the purpose. Many projects fail because individuals give up due to red-tape issues, bureaucracy, or inertia, but entrepreneurs find a way to surmount these challenges and to execute projects if they truly believe in the intervention. This driving force and resilience is critical to ensure that we can achieve what we have set out to do and rising above challenges and finding a way around issues is of paramount importance.

I am very mindful that we work in a highly regulated pharmaceutical industry, and that we are not necessarily involved in product or service development. However, that does not prevent us from adopting an entrepreneurial mindset in trying to implement high-value solutions designed for healthcare professionals, patients, or payors. We can consider the challenges (problems) of key stakeholders and learn about what that means for them and to try to identify local solutions to address them. What is it like for that 85-year old patient having to attend hospital clinic every month for an essential treatment? Or what about the 40-year old diabetic patient who must attend six different consultant clinics for ongoing monitoring and review? Or the healthcare professional that would like to attend education conferences, but are cancelled due to the impacts of COVID-19? Can we put ourselves in to their shoes and to understand what it would be like if there was a solution or an intervention which alleviated some of the difficulties? Can we use our exploratory mindset to disrupt the status quo and to help find a way to solve high-value problems for patients, healthcare professionals or others?

I find that scheduling some regular time in my diary to think and to explore is extremely beneficial – we work in a dynamic industry abound with change and have endless tasks to complete. We should find some time in our diaries to stop, reflect, think about problems, and dare to dream about what it would be like to solve them. We should learn first-hand about the impacts that these problems have on the individuals affected and look to co-creating solutions to help address them. I recommend that you schedule some time into your diary too – and to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset!