It is the start of the new school year. New hopes and new opportunities to learn. But what are we expected to learn – and what should we learn from university studies? This is a question I have been pondering for a while now. My struggle centers around the concept of “higher learning”. What is higher learning? What separates higher learning from other forms of learning? After all, business owners will tell you that they are constantly learning (often from school of hard knocks). And what is the benefit and impact of higher learning (important questions for existing and aspiring impact capitalists)?
Over the many years, I have come to the conclusion that higher learning centers around mindsets and critical thinking skills. These are mental skills that assist in situational analysis, thinking across different perspectives and understanding historical contexts, comfort in ambiguity and alternate interpretations, application of conceptual/theoretical lenses, and general research and statistical reasoning – which should ultimately lead to better decision making. Better decision making offers greater opportunity for impact and profit. Unfortunately, the trend in universities has been away from these aspects and toward technical training (and worst-case scenarios: ideological propagation and dismissal of perspectives viewed as threatening to an ideology).
Any business owner will tell you that university study does not lead to automatic success – and success does not require university study. It is not just what is in the head, but also in the pursuit of the venture. As a professor, I have little influence on motivation – but I can make a big difference in higher learning mindsets and understanding.
A goal of Impact Capitalist is to develop resources that help business owners navigate the complexities of business ownership. The emphasis is not just on how to do something (although there will be plenty of this), but in understanding the complexities of ideas. We will try to be the bridge between the academic and the practical. We believe that critical thinking combined with “doing something” makes for long-term sustainability and resilience. We will explain the whys and the logic around concepts. We do not look at best practices, as there is no such thing. We believe that true value comes from “how to think about” as opposed to us telling you “what to think or do”. And we believe that higher learning can be achieved beyond universities (although I am a strong supporter for keeping the brick and mortar university as a strong center for higher learning – if we can move beyond the noise).
TAF (or as students called him- Dr. TFed)