Why Just 1%?

Scientists, engineers, health professionals, and business people can't be forced to have an entrepreneurial mindset, any more than someone can be forced to have a surgical mindset. It's hard wired.

As a bioinnovation and entrepreneurship educator, my “back of the envelope” observation is that about 1% of graduate level students in business, science, engineering, law, and the health professions have an entrepreneurial mindset. I also think the same applies to clinicians.

Here's why.

The biomedical entrepreneurial mindset describes a state of mind characterized by the pursuit of opportunity with scarce resources. The goal is to create stakeholder/customer/user-defined value through the deployment of innovation.

When you examine the 4 components of the definition, it might give you some insight about the 1% question.

The pursuit of opportunity: Doctors see the opportunity to make patients better. The others mostly see the opportunity to make money by seeing problems, not by solving them.

Using scarce resources: Doctors have all the resources they need at the click of a mouse. If anything, they have too many resources, which leads to waste and inappropriate treatments and tests.

Create user value: While consumerization of healthcare is gradually changing the calculus, doctors, for the most part, still call the shots. Patients are left with “my way or the highway.”

Deploying innovation: Most doctors don't understand the difference between an idea, an invention, or an innovation or the difference between tinkering, a solution looking for a problem, incrementalism, or truly disruptive change. They think it's a big deal when they tweak a model to get improvement instead of making the model obsolete.

Scientists, engineers, health professionals, and business people can't be forced to have an entrepreneurial mindset, any more than someone can be forced to have a surgical mindset. It's hard wired. However, it we are to train a cadre of people who can innovate their way out of our healthcare mess, we need to choose those who have the right stuff and give them what they need to succeed, even if it is only 1%. It only takes one to make a difference.