On December 3, 2014, the first session of the Entrepreneurship Educators Forum Webinar Series took place. The vision for the project is to create a meeting place for the community to discuss the challenges of teaching entrepreneurship, and to build an open-source platform that will enable us to collect, curate and share knowledge, teaching materials and tools that will help us guide our students effectively. Bill Aulet opened the session with a review of a roadmap for entrepreneurship education at MIT that divides the process into three main stages – nucleation, product definition and venture development.
According to the plan, entrepreneurship education should be structured as a set of modular “buckets” or “tiles” of knowledge, skills and tools that are grouped under the three above mentioned stages. Having identified four student personas with different interests, motivation and needs we are able to recommend a pathway of learning through the tiles that will best meet their aspirations. For example, a “ready to go” entrepreneur who has an idea and a strong team does not need to go through ideation and team-building activities, but needs to dive deeply into product-market fit and primary market research, and then also acquire the knowledge for “Venture Development”.
After discussing MIT’s overarching program, it was time to start our deep dive into the different topics. Each session, we plan to do that with one or two. The goal is to identify the thought leaders and experts in each area beforehand, so they can share their knowledge and initiate a discussion through the webinar series. In this first session, naturally, we started with ideation.
Here is a replay of the session.
Drew Boyd, a 30-year industry veteran who is now Executive Director of the MS-Marketing Program at the University of Cincinnati and co-author of the book “Inside the Box” joined us to present the Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT) approach to creativity. The methodology is based on academic research in creativity carried out by Prof. Jacob Goldenberg, Drew’s co-author.
The main pillars of the approach are five techniques that can be applied to existing products/services, to produce new forms that may become valuable inventions. In this case, it is “Function follows form” – we do not start by looking for a problem, but rather find a solution, then look for problems that it may help solve and assess the feasibility of actually developing it. The techniques are based on specific, common patterns that Prof. Goldenberg identified by studying innovative products. Moreover, his research showed these patterns to be quite reliable predictors of market success.
The basic notion is that systematically and intentionally applying the patterns as structured templates to existing products and services will produce a multitude of potential innovative products. The techniques are: Subtraction, Division, Multiplication, Task unification, and Attribute dependency. Drew provided a couple of examples for “task unification”: a barcode sticker for fruit that dissolves in water releasing a special fruit washing detergent, and a baby pacifier that is also a thermometer.
The webinar series is targeted at educators at universities with programs in the innovation, design, and entrepreneurship spaces.