Innovation

GCN Publishes New Book on Entrepreneurship

McGilchrist Web Photo.jpg

Global Commerce Network is pleased to announce the release of its new book titled The Entrepreneurial God, written by Donald McGilchrist. 

The book can be purchased at this link

McGilchrist shows, through a study of the Scriptures, God as the grand innovator who, motivated by love, initiated the first "start-up"--our world. 

Despite this reality, the philosophical wedge driven between what our culture deems "sacred" and "secular" makes it difficult for business leaders to think about entrepreneurship and innovation through a theological lens. As a result, we miss out on the grandeur of how our enterprises fit within God's overarching purposes for the world. Our perspectives leave us with a narrow view of what it means to be entrepreneurs. 

The Entrepreneurial God helps us expand our vision and learn from the model of the grand innovator. We see that our enterprises can and should contribute to the shalom, or well-being, of our communities, our economies, and our workers. 

Donald McGilchirst, a founder of GCN, was born in London, England. He holds an MA from the University of Oxford. He worked for ten years in business in the UK before serving as an international vice president of The Navigators in the US. In this capacity, he focused on cross-cultural studies, communications, and international strategy.

In addition to The Entrepreneurial God, he has authored several studies on the cultural and biblical significance of commerce and enterprise, with a focus on our daily work in the world, including The Meaning of Work (2015) and other books in GCN's six-book series titled Scriptural Roots of Commerce.

Immediatism Stifles Significant Innovation

Our view of work and success today is measured in immediate returns. We watch the stock market daily. Companies must produce quarterly profits or investors bolt. We assess the success of politicians by how they did in a four-year term, not by the long-term impact of their decisions. A new report published in the MIT Technology Review (January/February 2016) makes it clear that the demand for immediate profits is suppressing important advances that could provide large-scale benefits to society. The report questions whether "the mechanisms for funding innovation today can nourish a broad range of technologies: not just car-sharing services like Uber, but valuable technologies for making energy cleaner, reducing poverty, and improving health care."

Writer Nanette Byrnes states that $21.5 billion (42 percent of all venture capital investment money in 2014) went toward new software development. Only $6 billion went to biotechnology and only $2.4 billion was used for industrial and energy companies.

The reason for the disparity is that the latter two categories often require long-term commitment before investors see a return. Software is far easier to develop and deploy than a promising new medication, or than products that require large factories and infrastructure. Given the choice, investors usually want the easy route to quick profits.

The problem, however, is that software innovation often addresses smaller societal needs. Sometimes is seeks to satisfy frivolous desires. It's one thing to design a cellphone so that another row of apps will fit on the screen and another to cure Alzheimer's, purify water, or improve the electrical grid.

"Capital intensive industries are particularly ill-suited to today's methods of funding," writes Byrnes. ". . . certain innovations are still struggling: potential breakthroughs in energy production and medicine, among others, that take too much money and time to develop."

Underlying the demand for immediate financial returns is a deficiency in our worldview and culture. And that can take a long time to fix.

MIT Report on Innovation

In an age when many believe businesses are corrupt and capital is detrimental to society, a new report by the MIT Sloan School of Management shows how well-operated, innovative companies can bring incredible benefits to people.

As of 2014, MIT alumni have "launched 30,200 active companies, employing roughly 4.6 million people, and generating roughly $1.9 trillion in annual revenues." MIT alumni, if they were a nation, would be the ninth largest economy in the world. Employing 4.6 million people means incalculable benefits to families and communities.

Moreover, the report indicates that MIT innovators have been able to start businesses that endure long-term. The report states that "80 percent of alumni-founded companies have survived five or more years, while 70 percent have survived 10 years. (Across the U.S., roughly 50 percent of all new companies last five years, while only 35 percent last 10 years.)"

What this means is that MIT entrepreneurs are innovating products and services that meet real human needs and they are competently running their companies.

MIT has developed a meaningful ethos, as captured in a statement by the university's president, L. Rafael Reif. “Our community’s passion for doing, making, designing and building is alive and growing. As we do our part by continuing to foster our students’ natural creativity and energy, it is inspiring to see the potential our alumni hold to extend MIT’s power to do good for the world.”

This is what we at GCN call "human flourishing." It is an expression of the scriptural mandate to love our neighbor through our work and businesses.

You can read the full MIT report here.