Hey! We’re at MWDSI 2009 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio! I’m at the doctoral consortium, where Dr. Joseph A. (Jay) Kayne is talking with us about looking at research as entrepreneurship. Here are my notes on his discussion of creating business plans for our dissertations.

The research equivalent of the “value proposition”: What knowledge gap can I fill?

There’s a difference between “what you do” and “the business you’re in”: Harley Davidson does motorcycles, but their business is making middle-aged men feel like the toughest SOB on the block. What is our business as researchers and academics? What we do is read and write and teach… but our business is to generate excitement, get students interested in our discipline, solve problems, help industry…

Be able to make an elevator pitch about your dissertation! Sell it in 25 words or less!

Also, watch for the white space in the market. Look for the gaps where people don’t see gaps (and always watch for the gorilla!).

Destroy Judgment: three categories

  1. self-judgment: we lack confidence in selves
  2. judgment by others
  3. collective judgment–“the way things are done”

Don’t let those judgments stand in the way. Turn the sacred cows into hamburger! Even your everyday judgments (instincts) may stand in the way of seeing the next new thing.

Andrew Carnegie always carried a deck of cards with which to play solitaire whenever he got worn out. Kayne wonders if Bill Gates was thinking about that same thing when he put Solitaire in Windows.

(Kayne wanted to do his dissertation on the House of Representatives, but in 1973, the Burroughs computer at Johns Hopkins couldn’t handle a 435×435 matrix. He thus did the Senate.)

Market and Industry Analysis: Who’s the market for your research? Kayne’s entrepreneurship program always produces a second version for trade journals.

Kayne and Gerald Aase both see more students asking, “What are you looking for?” rather than showing the creativity necessary for entrepreneurship — ironic, says Aase, as entrepreneurship comes more into its own as a field of study. You have to have tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity to be an entrepreneur!

Think of Spinelli’s 3 Ms: market size, market share, and margin. Which are you after with your research? (many possible right answers!)

Note that when we think of other researchers as our competitors, we may also think of them as collaborators. If we’re paying attention, and if we’re good, we can build on our competitors’ ideas, all toward the common goal of advancing knowledge.

Become a producer… a movie producer! Visualize your business/research happening. Figure out everything that has to happen to make that picture come together.

How do we reach our markets? Go to conferences! Have the elevator pitch ready! Get on panels, make presentations.

“No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” Always have a backup plan.

By the way: when you’re teaching, let your students pervert your product! Let your customers participate in the design!