Interview with prof.Milan Zelený

ZET FoundationInterview with prof.Milan Zelený

Why do you want to establish the Foundation?
While our world is changing fundamentally and fast, our thinking, behavior and decision making remain the same, uninformed and backward oriented. Especially in entrepreneurship, management and economics could such myopia become self-destructive. It is therefore necessary to generate new knowledge, experience and practical approaches which would be useful today and in the future, not only in the past. It is necessary to develop talent, instruct companies and formulate theories and methodologies corresponding to the world of qualitative transformation and metamorphosis. The main and fundamental goal of the Foundation is to turn our sights forward, on the road ahead, and not just continue managing our key institutions with eyes fixed in the rear-view mirror.

What are the goals of the Foundation?
Specific objectives are many, but the list of six key purposes is to be found in the table. This list will be expanded or narrowed down, according to the changing needs. We are entering the Age of mass entrepreneurship and innovation; our economies should be flourishing, not just growing; we are shifting from globalization to active localization and regionalism. New technologies stimulate new ways of production and consumption, as well as new orders of democratic self-government. The world is leaning away from speculative finances, shares, bonds and dividends towards the real products, services and innovations. That is why we need entrepreneurial universities, and must redirect our education from form to contents, from information to knowledge, and from the description of action to the action itself. This is not a small task and in the end it will require cooperation of many foundations, thousands of companies, and hundred thousands of entrepreneurs. In addition, we have to overcome the active resistance of the state, traditional business and monopolistic corporate giants.

Is there a similar foundation elsewhere in the world?
I am sure there isn´t; we would not try to introduce or copy something that already existed. It is apparent that the level of thinking – in China, USA, Japan, and in a slew of smaller economies (Singapore, Taiwan, etc.) – is already progressing in the outlined directions. Even the Czech Republic can participate, especially through the inspirational heritage of Comenius, the Bata brothers and Karel Capek. This is of course conditional on the ability of its entrepreneurial community to free itself from the dependency on the political center, state business and foreign domination – in search of its own path, as it used to be in the pre-war years. Entrepreneurship is not the same as support for entrepreneurship; innovation is quite different from the institution of supporting innovation. One is production, the other consumption of resources.

With whom will the Foundation cooperate?
Cooperation is extended to all modern businesses of the new era, innovative entrepreneurs, and independent, self-motivated entrepreneurial talent from all over the world. Although the focus will be on China and the USA, the Foundation will be registered in the Czech Republic, where we shall seek out the best Czech entrepreneurs and enterprises. We also hope that a number of companies, entrepreneurs and sponsors will identify themselves – and become active drivers of transformation and metamorphosis of the world, regional and local economy. We shall not actively support traditional political sphere according to time-tested spirit of “Let´s do it our way”. We of course fully support foundations of authentic democracy, i.e., the autonomous and party-free local self-government. All economic and social flourish always starts in a locality or region, never at the central ministry office.

To who are the Foundation activities directed?
Mostly towards the members of basic regional Triad: i.e., interdependency of company, university and self-government – anywhere in the world, but mostly in advanced or advancement-seeking countries. Our purpose is to generate and enhance the examples of success, not just propagate and support the examples of failure. Our entrepreneurial universities will seek unspoiled and still eager to learn talents from the whole world. In addition to entrepreneurial university, we shall also work with corporate universities, schools and pre-schools, based on the development of independent, critical and practical thinking in enterprising action.

What will be the purpose of concrete activities of the Foundation?
Both purpose and contents will be evolving and become specified over time. Our basic strategic sequence is 1. Understand what is going on and why? 2. Adapt our action to the changes and circumstances, and 3. Recognize and exploit new opportunities for enterprise, products and services in the interest of flourishing regions or localities.
So, first we understand, adapt and identify opportunities to be exploited. To pass through this U-A-I sequence would represent success for all: individual, enterprise, region and the Foundation. Another key principle is the strategy of the “First step”. Our world is changing so fast that we cannot expect to foresee or predict all the consequences. But we must still take the first step and keep continually adjusting the next ones. Strategy is not just a description of action – it is the action itself. Strategy is not what you say, but what you do. Our goal is not long-term sustainability of action, but its demonstrated self-sustainability. The Foundation cannot encourage long-term dependency on the state support, charity or redistribution of resources. We aim not just to give fish, but teach how to farm or catch fish.

How will the Foundation function concretely?
It is too early for such disclosure. It will certainly function on the basis of specific projects, publications, conferences and networking of individuals and companies which are interested in sharing their experiences, learning from each other, and establishing new forms of cooperation and synergy.

The more successful is the individual, institution or region,the stronger becomes the ZET Foundation and its support and assistance in entrepreneurial, educational and socio-cultural flourishing of local and regional economies.”