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  • Julia Goga-Cooke

OPEN 2017

Just back from Washington, where I attended the VentureWell Open2017, an annual gathering to invent the future of innovation and entrepreneurship education. I'd like to share two of the highlights for me. Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship have been adopted by many Universities, both as curricular and co-curricular subjects. As a teacher of both, I was very keen to meet other teachers and share the practices and challenges we have. During the years I have played a lot mixing methods and tools from both as I found lots of them complementary. So I have borrowed Business Model Canvas from Lean and integrated it into the Design Thinking Programme, and I borrowed observation, interviewing for empathy, immersion, persona profiles and ideation into the entrepreneurship teaching. So of course one the session titles that intrigued me was "Design Thinking is from Mars, Lean Start up is from Venus? When to teach which and when they reinforce each other." Both Design Thinking and Lean originated in Stanford and have been adopted by many Universities. Yet, while Lean has become by far the most successful way to start a new business, the question remains if it is the best way to teach the concept to anybody interested in entrepreneurship.

It was quite affirming to meet other peers that had been mixing and matching tools guided by the needs of their students, whether that be in a startup, a large company, in higher education or in the public sector, at the same time meeting people who were using either Design Thinking or Lean. We had a hands on session elegantly led by's Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, where Venuses and Martians worked together to develop a lesson plan straddling the intersection of Design Thinking and Lean Startup. Realising and recognising that each has got limits and can benefit from other tools, was a great take away from the session. I learnt my Entrepreneurship subject at London Business School, and used it to set up my startups. In the years that followed the Lean Startup became the fashionable model as used by most new tech startups. I later added some more tools from Lean and Steve Blank and BMC and Alexander Ostervalder. That marked my transition from being a partisan of the Business Plan to being an advocate of the dynamic Business Model Canvas.

A couple of years ago in my search for best ways to teach entrepreneurship, I joined a MOOC run by Bill Aulet of MIT and bumped into Disciplined Entrepreneurship. I have been road testing it very satisfactorily at AIA Academy in Albania, teaching entrepreneurship to young people. What I liked about it was, the disciplined approach is comprehensive, yet practical, integrated, sequential/prescriptive. I was delighted to meet Bill at Open2017 and hear from him how DE was born as a result of the frustration he and his team had in not being able to find a single resource to use as a reference to understanding the concept of entrepreneurship. We have been using Disciplined Entrepreneurship as a textbook. Good news is we have now the new Workbook just hot off the press. And Bill generously shared a wealth of materials we teachers can use. Well, you don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Just go to a good conference, where your tribe gathers and keep on learning!

Thank you Open2017

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