The Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative
Issue 12 | December 2021


“Immunity to Change”

2021 was a year of constant change globally, and many of us found it challenging to keep pace. While work, school, and life continued, many of us felt stuck in patterns of thought and behavior. These patterns might not have aligned with our pre-pandemic goals. What’s more, when we do change our behavior, it isn’t always in a way that makes us feel fulfilled or engaged in our lives. So, why is it so hard to change ourselves or so hard to adapt to a changing environment? 

Scholars call this difficulty immunity to change. In the book Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization, we learn that even when motivated strongly to change by health or economic factors, many individuals will not change. It goes beyond motivation and desire and into the personal and collective beliefs we hold. This book gives us a starting point to understand these limiting beliefs and how to move past them.

In researching the topic, we also found a beneficial tool. The article and accompanying worksheet ask us to consider what commitments we are holding onto that keep us from change and what goals we want to set to make changes. Along with several other prompts and activities, we find this an important tool to figure out the what, why, and how of changing our behaviors.

Get the tool



“Less Schooling, More Learning: A Better Approach Is Hidden in Plain Sight”

Continuing on the theme of change, we often talk about how learning in the 21st century could be different. More engaging and transformative learning is possible, but many systems seem to be suffering from immunity to change. Jal Mehta, Graduate Professor of Education at Harvard, and his colleague Sarah Fine embarked on a study of the American school system. They hoped to review the practices of “good” schools. Then, they would present the findings, and use them as a means of inspiring other schools to do similar work. But, as Mehta says, it didn’t work.

In this TEDTalk, Mehta outlines the mistakes in their premise and the findings they were able to share. What was fascinating about the deep learning the students at these schools were doing was that it was not in the core classes, math, English, or science, but instead on the periphery. In clubs and afterschool activities, students were learning tangible skills and adaptive ones. They were clearly enjoying what they did instead of Mehta and Fine’s observation of bored and disheartened students in the classroom. So, what was so different about their learning in and out of the classroom?

Mehta outlines purpose, agency, community, learning by doing, and learning through apprenticeship as cornerstones of deep, active learning rather than passive schooling. All of these things can provide a framework for changing our goals in education.

Watch the talk



“Research Insight: Entrepreneurship Education Is About More than Startup Creation”

Shifting from system-wide changes in schooling, let’s talk about entrepreneurship education specifically. You may have heard us talk about the power of entrepreneurship education beyond business creation. We aren’t alone in our claims, either. For example, in a recent Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders podcast episode from Stanford, researcher Chuck Esley asks three prominent leaders in startup entrepreneurship about some interesting observations. 

As Esley and colleague, Yong Suk Lee found, “formal entrepreneurship education helped Stanford alumni founders raise more funding and scale more quickly than peers who received no formal entrepreneurship training. But entrepreneurship education didn’t lead to a higher rate of startup creation itself. What should that finding mean for entrepreneurship educators?”

Highlighting the broad-reaching impact of entrepreneurship education, the guests offer perspectives of change. How can we engage in entrepreneurial learning as we contemplate changes to our lives? How can we adopt entrepreneurial teaching principles into more aspects of education?

Listen in



“Complexity Leadership Theory: Shifting leadership from the industrial age to the knowledge era”

To close out 2021’s Top of Mind series, we thought we would highlight another system grappling with change: organizational leadership. From the largest organization to the smallest grassroots non-profit, we see a need for dynamic and adaptive leadership. Unfortunately, industrial models of schooling and working have not kept pace with the shifting markets. 

Top-down, bureaucratic methods of leading have a place, but they traditionally do not leave space for adaptability and complexity. As we discussed last month, a new theory has emerged, called Complexity Leadership Theory, that can enable organizations to harness the innovative potential of their people without negating the systems of efficiency that have kept them successful previously. In the context of embracing change, CLT asks us to examine our assumptions as individuals in an organization. Then, we can work collaboratively towards new horizons.  

Dig into a theory that embraces adaptive stability and gives us a path forward when the only thing that’s certain is change is going to come.

Read the paper


Top of Mind  


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