Faculty & Leadership Blog / Faculty in the News

The Underlying Mental Model Of The Entrepreneurial Leader

In Chapter one of The New Entrepreneurial Leader, I wrote, “Entrepreneurs need the skills and the knowledge to define the world rather than be defined by it” (p. 25).

The most thought-provoking and still not completely answered question is how do entrepreneurs define the world? I offer a way of thinking called cognitive ambidexterity that requires two forms of thinking to be used depending on time and context.  One form of thinking is grounded in analysis of existing data—this is called prediction thinking.  The other form of thinking is grounded in action to collect new data—this is referred to as creation thinking.  If we depend on existing and often irrelevant data to make decisions about the future, then we are being defined by the world.  If we take smart action in order to collect new data and then use that data to create, then we are defining the world.

Both forms of thinking are needed but creation is more relevant for defining a world rather than being defined by it. Entrepreneurs define the world…thankfully.

Heidi Neck
Associate Professor
Jeffry A. Timmons Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies