Using the Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile® (EMP)
Assessment instruments can be very beneficial for individuals, but sometimes the value to teams is even greater. One instrument, the Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile (EMP), is particularly helpful for teams operating in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing business environment.
Critical Entrepreneurial Behaviors and Skills
Even though the EMP was developed by looking at what distinguishes entrepreneurs from corporate managers, its behaviors and skillsets are critical for all teams in this “VUCA” (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world we all live in now. And even if a team’s goals aren’t about “entrepreneurial mindset” per se, the instrument’s scales are broadly useful for what teams need to do in creating a vision, executing against a plan, persisting in accomplishing very ambitious goals, etc. For example, school superintendents in a recent program found the EMP very relevant to their leadership team in supporting student achievement even though the word “entrepreneur” never entered their minds.
How the EMP Differs from Other Entrepreneurial Assessment Tools
Unlike some assessment tools where higher scores are always considered better or more desirable, the real value in exploring the EMP dimensions comes from examining a particular team’s context—What is their function? (Sales or Operations?) What is the industry? (Energy or Hospitality?) What are the current market conditions affecting the team? What are the long term plans? These questions are not only pertinent, but they allow the teams themselves (and the consultants working with them) to fully understand what they’re good at and where they lack skills. In other words, teams can discuss the EMP scales in the context of these issues ahead of time and then cross-reference them later with their actual results. Obviously, it can be very motivating when there is strong alignment.
At the Leadership Development Institute at Eckerd College, we have used the EMP with many teams in a variety of different circumstances. Although every team is unique, we usually follow an established, step-by-step process that has worked extremely well.
The first step is to administer the EMP to all of the team members individually without a lot of prelude or explanation. Although we encourage them to be candid in their responses, we don’t want them to think extensively about the scales ahead of time or where they would want to score.
Before team members get back their actual results, we give them a one-page sheet that lists all of the scales on the instrument with short definitions. We then ask each team member to consider all of these behaviors and approaches and choose four out of the possible 14 that are most important for that team to demonstrate in order for them to be successful (in whatever way they define success). We then tabulate all of the responses either, ahead of time if done by email, or right there in the moment, if it occurs in an actual training session.
In this next step, we explore these responses from several different angles—What degree of consensus (or lack thereof!) did the team members’ responses show? What were the most commonly chosen scales? What scales were not chosen? This activity is inherently interesting as it provides a lot of key insights into the team and clues about where they want to be going as a team.
The final step involves looking closely at the Group Summary Report which is on the last page of the Group Report where we can see all of the information in one place: Group Low Score, Group High Score, Group Score, Corporate Manager Norm Score, and the Entrepreneur Norm Score. And this is where it gets really thought-provoking!
First, we highlight the four most important scales the team has chosen as a group because, obviously, those are ones to which we want to pay particular attention. If the group as a whole happens to be above the Entrepreneur norm, then it’s great news and they are doing exactly what they think is important. If one or more of the four most important scales are low, however, then it’s quite useful to talk about why that might be as well.
Next we look at some of the lower scores even though they might not have been selected as one of the most important scales. For example, let’s say a group scored very low in Optimism. What role does that play for this group? Does it have any bearing on the group’s energy level or positive outlook? Is there a cloud of pessimism that is affecting problem-solving or productivity? Or is it just a matter of function? Maybe it’s a group of attorneys whose role is to look for future problems or a team of compliance officers who have to work within tight boundaries, so by definition, they’re going to be more analytical or constrained in their approach.
Whatever the results show, they lead to rich conversations about the dynamics of the team and the implications for future projects and initiatives. In one situation, we worked with a Marketing team whose highest scores were Future Focus (A tendency to think beyond the immediate situation and plan for the future) and Idea Generation (A tendency to generate multiple and novel ideas, and to find multiple approaches for achieving goals). This team had to work very closely with a Sales team whose highest scores were Action Orientation (A tendency to show initiative, make decisions quickly, and feel impatient for results) and Persistence (The ability to bounce back quickly from disappointment, and to remain persistent in the face of setbacks). You can imagine how these two teams and their different priorities led to points of friction because neither team could operate in isolation. The Marketing folks were in no hurry; they wanted to talk about creative ideas and the aesthetics of the marketing materials. The Sales team wanted the materials yesterday! Theirs was a super focused “go, go, go” mentality that felt pressuring to the Marketing team. What are the implications for that friction? Can they complement each other, or are they talking totally different languages? Again, the conversations around how these fundamental differences manifest themselves in the day-to-day interactions between the two teams can be meaningful and eye-opening.
Another interesting case involved a team of managers who were all low on Future Focus except for one team member who was especially high on that scale. Acknowledging that this particular skill was critical to the long-term viability of their organization, the team designated the one team member who scored high as the “Future Focus Guru.” He scheduled and facilitated a monthly Vision Meeting to make sure the team took the time to look further down the road beyond the urgency of day-to-day activities. He also gave small assignments where everyone on the team would have to come back with a report on their competitors and what they were doing to stay ahead of the curve so as to not fall behind key players in their industry. By constantly challenging his colleagues to connect their ideas to the organization’s longer term strategy, he was able to help the entire team develop a future orientation that resulted in new opportunities and long-range considerations.