Developing a 21st Century Entrepreneurship Curriculum

12/14/12Follow @sgblank

In 2012, in partnership with Stanford University, U.C. Berkeley and NCIIA, Jerry Engel and I first offered the Lean LaunchPad Educators Class. The class was designed to teach educators (and the entrepreneurs that support them) the Lean LaunchPad approach (Business Model Design, Customer Development and Agile Engineering) for teaching entrepreneurship. In addition the class offers a suggested “Lean Entrepreneurship” curriculum and the details of how to teach the capstone Lean LaunchPad class.

Sidnee Peck from Arizona State University’s Carey School of Business attended the last Lean LaunchPad Educators Class. At ASU Sidnee is the Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives, and the co-facilitator for the Venture Catalyst’s Rapid Startup School. Sidnee taught her own Lean LaunchPad class a week after returning to ASU, (holding some sort of record for a curriculum Pivot.) I asked her to share what she learned in the class and what she learned when she put it to practice. Here’s what she had to say…

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As an entrepreneurship educator, I have two goals:

  • inspire and encourage students to spark energy around entrepreneurship and their dreams,
  • make the reality of entrepreneurship clear enough to prevent students from wasting time on a life decision that is not right for them.
Sidnee Peck is the Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives and co-facilitator of the Venture Catalyst Rapid Startup School at Arizona State University's Carey School of Business.

Sidnee Peck is the Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives and co-facilitator of the Venture Catalyst Rapid Startup School at Arizona State University's Carey School of Business.

I believe this is best done through experiential learning where students spend most of their time “doing.” I have spent my entire time at Arizona State University trying to find the most effective tools and methods for teaching entrepreneurship to my students in order to achieve these goals. I update my course frequently in an effort to create the optimal learning environment and before the Lean LaunchPad training course I was still searching for the perfect action-oriented learning model.

The Lean LaunchPad Educators course

I truly did not know what to expect when I arrived for the LLP educators course. I had been referred by a colleague in the University’s incubator and did some preliminary reading as the trip approached but wasn’t familiar with the concepts of business models or customer development.

I was blown away by what I actually learn and take away from this experience – it has changed the way I teach and the way I view my time in the classroom. It has also impacted my students’ lives in a significant way.

The biggest surprise I encountered may seem simple, but significantly changed the way I viewed the process. Coming into the course I had been teaching the class on the basis of execution; teaching my students that they needed to be actively setting goals supported by tasks and executing on them. My philosophy was sound (and was supported by many bright people): nothing happens on paper or in the classroom, it all happens outside via real action and interaction.

But on the first day, Steve framed it in a different way: execution of a business plan doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because executing on a business plan that has not been validated is a waste of time and energy. Instead, we should first focus on searching for the best business model and validating our assumptions. After we prove that the model works, then, and only then, execute on it and build a business.

I may have been the only person at the conference who was learning the methodology for the first time and would be applying it upon my return to ASU within the coming week in my fall class. This was bold…but it was a “why wait?” mentality, and I am SO thankful that I … Next Page »

Steve Blank is the co-author of The Startup Owner's Manual and author of the Four Steps to the Epiphany, which details his Customer Development process for minimizing risk and optimizing chances for startup success. A retired serial entrepreneur, Steve teaches at Stanford University Engineering School and at U.C. Berkeley's Haas Business School. He blogs at www.steveblank.com. Follow @sgblank

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  • http://twitter.com/quotejoy Marta Ockuly

    Will the Lean Entrepreneurship course be available for educators on-line? I love the idea of an action-oriented learning model. Please offer readers a way to follow up.