The Baker library at Harvard Business School always organizes especial exhibitions related to business and, particularly, management. Since October 2014 to August 2015 the exhibition is as follows: “George F. Doriot: Educating Leaders, Building Companies”. I had found it so interesting that I would like to share with you some of the comments I had the pleasure to read and enjoy in the exhibition catalog as well as on the walls. My only purpose is to try to make closer, better known, the figure of Professor Doriot, who I didn’t know before, to those executives and professors that are not sure about the real meaning of their jobs and their role in society. It has really been enlightening to me.
“In the latter half of the twentieth century, venture capital investment transformed groundbreaking technologies into sustainable enterprises and contributed to the growth of an American economy based on entrepreneurship and innovation. The story of modern venture capital is inextricably linked to Georges F. Doriot, an educator and a founder of the industry. During his 40 years tenure at Harvard Business School, the charismatic professor taught business and leadership…he realized his dream of establishing the first Master in Business Administration program in Europe helping to establish INSEAD…” This way Melissa Banta, Guest Curator of the exhibition talks about mister Doriot. Not a bad beginning.
“You gave, as needed, advice, encouragement, criticism. Always you have urged us into original and constructive thinking upon difficult problems”. This is what his students wrote about him. A different perspective and, again, it is not a bad one.
“Doriot undertook to bring together many of the country’s best academic researchers, scientists, and industrial planners to support the war effort…The Military Planning Division was a key component, benefiting from what proved to be novel cooperation among science, industry, and the military”. This is the way Christopher G. Hartman wrote in “Advance Man: The Life and Times of Harry Hoagland, 2005”. Doriot was a war time innovator. This is a complementary but different perspective from the previous ones, and also very positive.
“We are a movement, not just a company. A commercial bank lends only on the strength of past successes and proven assets. I want money to do things that have never been done before”. This visionary paragraph was written by Professor Doriot in Shawmut News Bulletin, 1961,14. This is truly the core and the beginning of a new way of thinking, a new venture capital industry that was poised to transform society in many ways. Behind this industry was a very strong commitment I did not know before. In addition Doriot had a deep sense of common good for individuals and society as was published in “General Doriot’s Dream Factory.” Fortune, August 1967:”If I were a speculator, the question of return would apply. But I don’t consider a speculator-in any definition of the word-constructive. I am building men and companies”. What a clear and compelling vision he had.
I could go on and on with his figure, his stature and how well represented he is in this excellent exhibition. It really touched me. A powerful, multifaceted, bold and visionary professor not constrained by the “limits” of the moment. Inspiring, entrepreneurial, knowledgeable and solid he has a prominent place in this remarkable institution. Hope he will continue inspiring many of us.
By Enrique Cortés PhD. Strategic Thinker-Advisor.www.profitboosterlab.com