Setting The Bar For Entrepreneurial Mentoring


In this article, we discuss how the Dynamiqe Mentoring Accreditation Programme (DMAP)  is setting new standards in entrepreneurial mentoring and why this matters for the quality of the entire start up ecosystem, worldwide. 

DMAP prepares Mentors to build a Learning Alliance with their clients, leveraging the Dynamiqe psychometric tool and supported by an 8 step mentoring model

DMAP prepares Mentors to build a Learning Alliance with their clients, leveraging the Dynamiqe psychometric tool and supported by an 8 step mentoring model

An Overview of DMAP

DMAP has been developed in response to the burgeoning need to mentor a growing population of young entrepreneurs more effectively. It is delivered over 90 days via web-conferencing and online video materials, which makes it accessible to mentors from any where in the world.

Leading Universities, Technology Accelerators and Entrepreneurial Academies, and professional business mentors, from more than 12 countries have already participated. Through our collaboration with Social Storm, educators and mentors from up to 20 Universities are set to join the next cohort, beginning October 25, making DMAP global programme. 

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The emphasis in DMAP is on building a partnership between the mentor and client, rather than on a more traditional Master-Apprentice approach. Our methodology therefore shift the emphasis from traditional mentoring towards a more coaching approach. 

DMAP uses the Dynamiqe psychometric tool as a basis for creating a “Learning Alliance” with the mentee (or client, as we prefer to call them). The tool enables the client to think and reflect by themselves, and then participate more fully in the mentoring conversation. In this way we shift the burden from the mentor having to take the lead in the conversation, toward a more balanced relationship. 

We provide a three phase, 8-step model to help the mentor navigate through the mentoring conversation. Although we recognise that this is very much an ideal and encourage flexibility and spontaneity in the mentor-client exchanges. 

The DMAP Programme is based on a structured for phase learning design:

  • Foundation
  • Demonstration
  • Practice 
  • Completion 

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The mentors are encouraged to pair up outside the formal sessions to work on their reflective journal and share experiences. 

The final accreditation module requires the mentors to complete three key tasks:

  • Submission of a recording of a real mentoring session 
  • Submission of a Reflective Journal 
  • Completion of a Feedback session, with a member of the Pivomo faculty

For accreditation, we are looking to see that the mentor is engaged in a personal development journey and  is open to learning. We also look for a demonstration that the core mentoring competencies are being applied in real life.   

After accreditation, mentors are invited to join the Mentors Forum, via web conferencing, which allows them to share mentoring practices and techniques with their peers across a diverse range of institutions and cultures. 

DMAP provides mentors with a pragmatic and action-based approached. The focus from the beginning is on each mentor working out their own authentic mentoring style. 

 The Need For Higher Standards

One of the many useful insights to emerge from a recent University College of London  Symposium I chaired, was the sheer range of potential types and definitions of the term Mentor. While it is commonly agreed that mentoring plays a key role in the early development of entrepreneurs, and is possibly more important than cash in the early stages, there is little agreement on what a mentor is nor the standards which can be expected of them. 

This clearly matters if we are to provide mentoring for the increasingly large numbers of people, young and old, that are starting and scaling up businesses. 

Take Accelerators, for instance. As implied in the name, their brand promise is to accelerate the development of the start up founders so they produce an investable proposition in the shortest possible time. How would this be possible without highly effective mentoring? Yet, all too many accelerators maintain a large network of mentors, with no screening, no training and little accreditation of their effectiveness. 

Similarly Universities are expected to move beyond their traditional roles in teaching and research, to add value to the student and alumni’s career capital. One of the key ways of doing this is supporting student entrepreneurship and social enterprise, often with the support of a network of external mentors. Yet, this often moves the University outside their comfort zone and away from the areas of their core competence. 

  • How does a University reconcile the need for academic excellence with a “fail fast” culture we often associate with a healthy start up eco-system? 
  • How do Universities move away from a teaching-centric, curriculum-led experience, and provide entrepreneurs with the action-based experiential learning they need?
  • How do Universities move outside the classroom and provide the individual attention needed in entrepreneurship? 

At Pivomo, we argue that one way to address some of these questions is to attract, retain and accredit entrepreneurial mentors in a more systematic and rigorous way. This is entirely consistent with the broad themes emerging from the recent SEC2016 conference, which emphasised the need for accountability and measurability in entrepreneurial education.  

So the quality and standards of the mentors supporting this community really matters to the entrepreneurs, founders, and change agents who are the focus of our attention, but also to the sponsors from diverse institutions such as accelerators, Universities, and academies. Investors too have a vested stake in ensuring the companies in which they invest are being properly supported. 

The Problem With Mentoring 

The problem with mentoring is that it is difficult, although it sounds easy! What could be hard about dropping in to share your experiences with entrepreneurs and other founders? In fact, it is commonly said by mentors that it is more difficult than at first thought and many new mentors are not properly prepared for this. 

Here are the most commonly cited moans and groans from experienced mentors:

  • “It is frustrating when the mentee just doesn’t want to listen”
  • “I feel really stressed as my experience seems out of date”
  • “To be honest, I have too little time to do this well”
  • “Things have changed so much since I was running my company”

Indeed, one of the challenges mentors have is that they all too often have received no training, and nor are they equipped with the tools and techniques they need to engage in effective mentoring. 

Summary 

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So these are some of the challenges that DMAP attempts to address. 

It is clear that DMAP fulfils a real need in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

  • Mentors feel better trained and supported and are able to derive more satisfaction from what is a very important role. 
  • Mentoring clients get a more effective mentor. 
  • Sponsoring organisations like universities and accelerators, build quality and professional standards into their mentoring programmes. 

DMAP 4.O kicks off on the 25 October, with a range of timings and alternative dates to suit different timezones.

To find out more, click here

Andrew Atter

Founder & CEO, Pivomo

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