Is it Smart to Offer Entrepreneurship Training?

Susan Hall
Slide Show

Work Force Challenges in 2011

Despite the improving economy, we'll continue to struggle with difficult work force challenges in 2011.

In a post at Harvard Business Review, Bill Taylor takes a dim view of Silicon Valley employers' latest perk: training new hires to start their own companies. That makes sense: Why would you want to teach someone just coming in how to quickly exit?


The New York Times recently wrote about that as one of many ways companies are trying to woo software engineers. The piece concludes:

Many of the most talented engineers want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, not work for him.

Taylor, an author and co-founder of Fast Company magazine, says you want to hire people so devoted to the team and the company mission that they can't imagine not working there. He says:

As someone building a company, I'd much prefer people who genuinely want to be part of the team for the long haul, rather than "free agents" who are willing to suffer through a brief stint on the roster before they field a team of their own.

He also points to Malcolm Gladwell's New Yorker piece "The Talent Myth" from the last big talent war, referring to a similar culture at Enron. Says Taylor:

Does it really make sense to move heaven and earth to recruit young people to your company whose real commitment is starting their own company? How about focusing on people (even if they are a little less young or a little less talented) who believe in your company and are committed to its success?

A commenter who signed in as "Ax" said the problem is that engineers create the value for these startups, but don't share in the value they have created. They have no clear career path and after 20 years make little more than recent college graduates unless they take on management roles. That's a problem in a lot of careers. He compares them with professionals in financial services whose compensation is tied to the success of the overall company.


Commenter Ken Leeser argues that company life cycles have become so short that companies can't make long-term commitments to employees-and workers don't sign up for life like they did for IBM in the old days, anyway. The lively debate in the comments section is well worth checking out.

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