Let’s unleash the potential! Fuzzy goal thinking in universities

“I see great potential for entrepreneurship and innovation in universities”, said Johan Brand, founder of Kahoot, at today’s Oslo Rector Summit at Oslo University College today. His story and presentation was a true inspiration for all university rectors aiming to foster for innovation and entrepreneurship.

It’s said that entrepreneurs often leave the universities, as they don’t “fit” the system. I’m afraid it’s only too true, and it’s the Akilles’ heel when it comes to our success in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. «Outside the box»-thinkers and risk-takers are not rewarded in academia. Failure, as a necessary part of the learning process towards success is not understood as such. We need to change our way of thinking. Innovation is not something we can start thinking about after doing the research and the teaching and education. It needs to become a truly integrated part.

We need a higher acceptance throughout everything we do, in research, in education and in all our innovation efforts, for fuzzy goal thinking. The creative processes and combining processes towards fuzzy goals. Today’s research and teaching and evaluation are too tied to straight forward A to B thinking.

Fuzzy goal thinking (bottom) vs traditional A to B thinking (top).

We need to rethink how we teach and what we reward in evaluations of our students, so that creativity, critical thinking, ability to challenge the existing, think outside the box (what we typically see as a bit of crazyness), and to seize and pursue the unexpected and break away from a plan when necessary, is valued.

Bringing innovation and entrepreneurial thinking into the learning processes and bringing the students into the research activities and the innovation platforms is key. Creating co-working areas and maker spaces. Letting the students in pushes innovation culture forward throughout the institution. Students and researchers need meeting places to create links between academic fields and tackle wicked problems requiring efforts across traditional disciplinary boundaries.

We strongly believe in the importance of education, research and innovation in universities in creating new sustainable businesses and wealth beyond the oil era.

So let’s unleash our potential – for a sustainable future.

HiOA-rector Curt Rice, Kahoot founder Johan Brand and myself at today’s Oslo Rector Summit

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