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我们根本没搞懂导师制

Scott Gerber 2012年09月27日

各大机构经常把复杂的“导师制”简单化,认为“导师制”就是提供建议的代名词。其实,这是对导师制认识上的一个误区。

    说起导师制,新一代企业主和创业者,以及创业机构的领导人,都犯了一个重大的错误。我们将复杂的“导师制”简单化了,认为“导师制”只不过就是提供建议的代名词。

    对于这种误解,笔者本人也感到非常内疚。毕竟,我们经常会对年轻人说:“你想成功吗?找一名导师吧。”然而,说起来容易。虽然我们的出发点是好的,而且提供建议确实也是导师制中一个至关重要的部分,但导师制不是零和游戏,效果也无法得到保证(而且,通常根本无法衡量)。

    坦白地讲,我们还没明白导师制的真正含义,就不能再将它作为刺激创业和增加工作岗位的一种工具到处兜售。导师制的实质是把其他人的智慧与学识传授给具有迫切需要的人。可靠的导师既是可以征询建议的“共鸣板”,也是创业路上的向导。许多成功的故事当中,他们都是关键的幕后推手。

    如果我们真地想利用导师制,帮助美国的工作者们在日益复杂的经济形势下做好充分准备,就必须把对导师制的认识从一般化的概念转变为高度个性化的体验,并可以按比例放大,为数百万人服务。以下为实现这一目的的五条途径:

    1. 为知识与实践牵线搭桥

    笔者最近与纳威•贾因一起用餐。贾因创办过月球运输与数据服务公司Moon Express、信息服务公司inome和InfoSpace。作为X PRIZE基金会和奇点大学(Singularity University)的理事,贾因一直处在所谓“创业慈善事业”的前沿。从3D打印到高级遗传学,短短一个小时内,贾因就让我了解到许多令人惊奇的技术。但像这样的信息不应该成为少数人的特权。

    然而,创业者很少有机会接触到这个层面的科技创新。相反,许多创业者只是被怂恿从其他创业者那里获得指导,而吸引他们这么做的所谓科技企业创业精神,只不过是伴随着巨大开支的短期获利行为。

    我们首先要做的,是为心怀抱负、积极主动的创业者找到掌握知识的人,比如科学家、研究人员、STEM(科学、技术、工程设计与数学)专业人员和慈善家等,为他们牵线搭桥。

    2. 既要有全球思维,也要增强本地的间接指导

    生活成本的上涨和其他宏观经济因素,正在让越来越多的创业者将目光转移到当地社区。职业学校和社区大学可以帮助学员联系当地社区。但我们还必须通过公-私伙伴关系,来传授创业精神。我们需要下一代创业者为他们自己的家乡创造工作岗位。创业项目、教育家、政府机构和开发人员需要齐心协力,吸引、留住人才。在这方面,非营利机构Idea Village在新奥尔良取得了出色的成就。

    而General Assembly等创业项目则将各不相干的团队联系起来,如市政府、创业者、黑客等,通过互相接触与合作,提供间接指导。

    3. 认识到同龄人关系的价值

    了不起的导师不见得一定要比学员年长。实际上,同龄人之间相互学习是培养领导力最有效的工具之一。所以,我们为什么不在所有导师制倡议中加大对这方面的利用呢?

    4. 个性化配对,对效果进行衡量,增加获得指导的途径

    尽管一对一导师制很有价值,但仅仅依赖面对面的、企业对企业的关系并不现实。因此,许多机构,如国际青年成就组织(Junior Achievement,简称JA)和全球创业指导基金会(Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship,简称NFTE)等正在逐步向数字模式转变。例如,笔者所在的机构便与花旗集团(Citi)合作推出了一个名为#StartupLab的项目,除了现有机构(包括JA与NFTE)外,我们还可以在社交网络平台上为创业者提供指导。

    When it comes to mentoring the next generation of business owners and startup founders, leaders of entrepreneurship organizations have made a huge mistake. We have simplified a complex term -- "mentorship" -- into a generic synonym for dishing out advice.

    I'm guilty of it myself. It's all too easy to say to young people, "Oh, you want to succeed? Get a mentor." We mean well, and offering advice is a vital aspect of mentorship, but it is not a zero-sum game, and its benefits are not guaranteed (and often not measured at all).

    Frankly, we can't keep touting mentorship as a means to spur business and job creation without understanding what it should look like. Mentorship is about taking the wisdom and brainpower of others and imparting it to those who need it most. Solid mentors are part sounding board and part guide. They are the critical background players in many a success story.

    But if we really want mentorship to prepare American workers for an increasingly complex economy, then it must undergo a shift from a generic concept to a highly individualized experience that can be scaled to serve tens of millions of people. Here are five ways we can do exactly that:

    1. Connect those who know with those who do

    I sat down for dinner recently with Naveen Jain, who founded startups Moon Express, inome, and InfoSpace. As a trustee at the X PRIZE Foundation and Singularity University, he's at the forefront of what's being called "entrepreneurial philanthropy." From 3D printing to advanced genetics, what I learned in that hour with Jain was extraordinary. Information like this shouldn't be a privilege of the few.

    Yet entrepreneurs are rarely exposed to scientific innovation at this level. Instead, many are only encouraged to get mentorship from other entrepreneurs, enticed by a brand of tech entrepreneurship characterized by short-term wins and big payouts.

    We need to start connecting those with knowledge -- scientists, researchers, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) professionals, and philanthropists -- to aspiring and active entrepreneurs.

    2. Think globally, but enhance indirect mentorship locally

    The rising cost of living and other macroeconomic forces are shifting many entrepreneurs' focus to local communities. Vocational schools and community colleges can help connect mentees to the local community. But we must also teach entrepreneurship with public-private partnerships. We need the next generation of entrepreneurs to create jobs in their hometowns. Entrepreneurship programs, educators, government organizations, and developers will need to band together to attract and keep talented workers. The nonprofit Idea Village has done this with great success in New Orleans.

    Programs like General Assembly connect a broad spectrum of disconnected groups -- city governments, entrepreneurs, hackers -- to provide indirect mentorship through exposure and collaboration.

    3. Recognize the value of peer relationships

    A fantastic mentor doesn't necessarily have to be older than their mentee. Indeed, peer-to-peer learning is one of the most effective tools we have for leadership development. So why aren't we making a bigger effort to use it in all of our mentorship initiatives?

    4. Personalize pairings, measure outcomes, and increase access

    While one-on-one mentorship is valuable, relying on in-person, business-to-business relationships alone is not realistic. As a result, many organizations, like Junior Achievement and Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), are shifting to an increasingly digital model. Likewise, my organization launched a program called #StartupLab with Citi so we could build a social layer on top of existing organizations (including JA and NFTE).

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