“Israeli style”: what if entrepreneurial culture takes precedence over devices? I Episode 3

by bold-lichterman

“It’s a much broader game”: to be inspired above all by the Israeli state of mind.

Our initial objective was to understand the keys to the entrepreneurial dynamism of the “Startup nation”, through the methods, tools and support models practiced in the numerous incubation structures in the country. However, we quickly understood that the uniqueness of Israel did not lie there. “Methodology is not what makes Israel different”, were able to point out to us certain actors of the ecosystem: “It is a much larger playing field. “. The latter above all point to the role that culture and the Israeli attitude play in the country’s innovation potential. As for the tools and methods used, such as Lean Startup, Business Model Canva or Design Thinking, they actually derive for the most part from the know-how of Silicon Valley.

The Israeli attitude would therefore be the main asset of the country’s teeming entrepreneurial ecosystem. It is indeed to be inspired by this state of mind that large companies choose to open their innovation laboratories on Israeli territory, such as Renault’s Open Innovation Lab, in partnership with Tel Aviv University. This is also what motivates the many “learning expeditions” organized in a number of large French schools. Muriel Touaty, CEO of Technion France, confirms this: “The learning expeditions that we organize at the Technion for French students aim above all to be inspired by the attitudes and daring of their Israeli counterparts.”

“So, so what?” In the Israeli way. »: An uninhibited and enterprising attitude.

Beyond the training and support structures, Israeli culture would therefore be the breeding ground for this entrepreneurial state of mind. It would be linked to the geopolitical situation of the country, marking the life of its population by uncertainty and a form of combativeness: “We get up in the morning without knowing if there will be a tomorrow” explains the director of Technion France, who has lived more than 20 years in Israel: “It pushes to be daring, to dare and to surpass oneself. “. These contextual factors would motivate a cultural norm that values ​​action, taking initiative associated with a greater tolerance for error than in the French context: “Here, we have the right to make mistakes. What matters is to move forward. “.

In this sense, behavior would be governed by very strong principles of decomplexion and authenticity. Many Israelis describe themselves by their frankness: “We are known to be honest, ‘in the face’. You are not polite, you do not beat around the bush. You get straight to the point, ”recalls a TAU Ventures manager. This can sometimes lead to virulent exchanges of points of view, without generating resentment in interpersonal relationships: “Meetings can be violent but in the end we pat each other on the back”, explains a professor from the University. from Tel Aviv. This frontal honesty can be perceived as aggressive for some external observers: “To find your place here is very often to step on the feet of others”, admits a French expatriate.

Military training, or innovation in battle order.

The place of compulsory military service in Israeli education also contributes to the formation of this entrepreneurial attitude. An essential moment of integration into the nation, it concerns all young Israelis aged 18, for a minimum period of two and a half years for men and two years for women. In particular, it enables these young people to have responsibilities very early on, to develop their leadership, but also to take risks and rapid decisions in crisis situations. “At 20, I managed a team of young people a year younger than me, expensive equipment, people’s lives. “Says a mentor from the HUStart Center in Jerusalem,” It helps you enter adulthood. “.

It is also not uncommon to find among Israeli entrepreneurs former officers, having completed a course in the army longer than the minimum service. The exceptional character of these individuals has been underlined to us by various observers: “They learned to be leaders, to operate in the field, to create things from nothing, to orient action towards efficiency, to look at the world as an opportunity. In short, to think “out of the box”, “explains a pedagogical manager from the University of Haifa. However, these qualities and skills are fundamental in building an entrepreneurial project.

From the individual in society to the entrepreneur in his ecosystem: the same struggle.

The selection mechanisms conditioning career paths in the army, while they help to sort individuals extremely quickly, above all make it possible to place them in a unit and a position where they will be the most relevant, but also the most fulfilled. Despite the hierarchical nature of any military organization, the Israeli army is also based on the idea that there is a place for everyone. This is accompanied by a right to speak and to challenge, whatever his hierarchical position. In 2006, it was a low-ranking army officer who reported the presence of a Syrian nuclear reactor, escaped the radar of the intelligence services, subsequently allowing its destruction by the Israeli military services.

This anecdote illustrates a form of argument culture that we mentioned earlier, which encourages people to express themselves, to challenge and to argue. The Israeli cultural context, marked by a strong multiculturalism (8 million inhabitants; 6 million Jews from more than 100 countries; a strong Arab minority of 1.4 million inhabitants, 300,000 new immigrants), is elsewhere conducive to the confrontation of points of view. For some observers, this would push individuals to confront others. Here we find the figure of the entrepreneur constantly listening to his environment, curious, open, ready to seize an opportunity or to pivot if necessary.

The injunctions to dare, act, make mistakes, confront otherness, culturally anchored in Israel, therefore seem to partly explain its entrepreneurial dynamism. It is thus in entrepreneurial and enterprising attitudes, ways of being and acting, that the “startup nation” can constitute a reservoir of inspiration to support young entrepreneurs, through structuring principles such as the right to employment. error, initiative and curiosity. It is therefore less a question of training in methodologies than of genuine entrepreneurial behavior …

  1. An official at TAU ​​Ventures, a Tel Aviv University fund investor

2. A professor of Entrepreneurship from Tel Aviv University

3. An official from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Photo by Adam jang we Unsplash

The contributor:

Israeli style” what if entrepreneurial culture takes precedence over devicesPassionate about the current changes in work, Laëtitia is a researcher in Entrepreneurship, within the framework of a CIFRE between the University of Grenoble-Alpes and the Conseil & Recherche company. His work focuses on the entrepreneurial engagement of students and the role of support systems in the transition from intention to entrepreneurial behavior. This research is carried out under the direction of Jean-Pierre Boissin, coordinator of the national plan for student entrepreneurship and thus benefits from a prime field: the national Pépite France scheme.

In addition, as part of her consultancy activity at Conseil & Recherche, she takes part in collaborative research projects serving key accounts, on themes related to work transformations and innovation (New uses of work, innovation, employee experience, etc.).