A fun challenge

Hi there! Alex here from Straight Up.

I’m excited to share something fun and potentially very useful with you – especially those of you who teach or coach entrepreneurship.

Our good colleague Dr. Doan Winkel recently challenged me to design my ‘dream course’. He’s now at the Edward M. Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurship at John Carroll University and he wanted to know if I’d design “the course I’ve always wanted to teach, with no boundaries, in the hopes it might become a course in his entrepreneurship minor”. Check out Doan’s thinking here »

I’ve been pretty lucky over the years to get to teach things that I love to teach, but his idea did sound challenging, intriguing, and fun.

Doan describes this as ‘pushing boundaries’, which I think it is in some ways. And us as ‘experts’, which is awfully kind of him. Meanwhile, Mike and I see it as business as usual and a great chance to tailor something for a class of students in a way that might help everyone.

Either way, it comes at a great time since my partner Mike and I had been building out our Idea Maker Course » and for years I have been implementing parts of it in my own classrooms – which I use as sort of a lab to test our leading edge stuff.

And I’ve got a whole bunch of the same kind of content and tools and approaches ready to go out through our Educator’s Hub »

So I told Doan I was in – IF he’d help me with it and IF he was open to Mike and me sharing the whole process and making the outcomes open to everyone.

And he agreed.

A word about the title

Although we’re calling it a ‘dream’ course in entrepreneurship, that’s not mean to suggest that it’s the solution to everything. Please just think of it as our best collection of tools and approaches for helping people learn in the early stage of the innovation life cycle. It’s just our best effort today that we hope contributes to what others are doing too. I hope accessing it and our conversations is helpful to you.

Eavesdrop on us

We’re going to spend the next few months at it – every Friday or few, and you’re welcome to eavesdrop on our design sessions, and access / use everything that comes from it – in little chunks or wholesale.

You can eavesdrop on all of our design sessions by registering for this free live webinar series »

While we work, you can fire your questions and ideas at us – we’ll respond to them all during or after each session. I’m hoping people will engage so I can learn from you and continue Straight Up’s work to tailor things to different contexts too.

Register for the next episode now »

And dig into all the replays

Our second session was on Feb 23. We looked at a framework for the course – what’s in and what’s not in, and what are we trying to do. (Build people who can build amazing stage 1, 2, and 3 businesses.) We tackled in some detail the design for the first week of an experiential course like this, including a whole bunch of topics. And again, we took questions and considered feedback from some of the people who were listening in.

Here’s the first half of that session. Be sure to check out the table of contents:

Here’s a table of contents to jump to the highlights. You’ll be able to watch the things not linked here in our Educator’s Hub »

  • 0:00 – Good morning!
  • 1:29 – Three things for today’s webinar
  • 4:20 – Putting this course into context: From Napkin to Revenue (Building people who can build amazing Stage 1, 2, and 3 ventures)
  • 9:23 – Common prototypes of the opportunity: Idea Napkins, Idea Models, Lean Canvas, Business Model Canvas, Business Plan, Strategic Plan, Growth Plan
  • 10:17 – Common prototypes of the offering: Pretendotypes, pretotypes, and prototypes
  • 17:39 – Other stuff going on around us a this stage of venture development
  • 18:58 – The journey from the Learning Zone to the Really Big Value Zone
  • 22:06 – So what’s the first week going to look like? And what do you send out before the first class?
  • 27:46 – The correlation between the first day and your teaching evaluations, and providing value right out of the gate
  • 28:30 – The logistics of the homework, handouts, and course schedule
  • 31:27 – Let’s look under the hood at each component of the first week
  • 31:50 – The classroom space
  • 33:55 – The first things we send and say to a class full of students
  • 40:40 – Some opening stage setting and storytelling
  • 45:56 – The importance of being passionate and building trust in the opening moments of a course like this
  • 47:00 – Switching gears with an ideation warm up + ice breaker
  • 48:58 – Why I ask my students “Who hated this activity?!” (It’s about being transparent and deliberate about the purpose of what we do in class.)

NOTE: This topic and the rest of this discussion can be accessed in our Educator’s Hub »

  • 52:31 – Using some silly circles to introduce some key pre-ideation concepts and get a start on our broader ideation learning goals
  • 58:45 – Handing out an abridged course outline for discussion next time, handing out the week’s homework, and wrapping up the first day
  • 1:01:01 – The Minefield Activity: Making sure you have a really amazing second class that sets the stage for this kind of course
  • 1:22:49 – The psychology of using a “Mini Badge” to hand things out
  • 1:24:35 – A little bit on getting feedback and encouraging reflection on the learning experiences
  • Some questions and comments from people watching the webinar:
    • 1:28:19 – Do your students have to pay for their own pretotyping and prototyping?
    • 1:31:56 – How to you encourage and reward failure while seeking and rewarding big value, and structure and assess for that?
    • 1:34:39 – FYI re the Disposable Startup + what about the income replacement business vs. big value goal tension?
    • 1:36:50 – Where can I find your courses and content?
    • 1:37:01 – I love the Minefield Activity!
    • 1:37:07 – On getting it right in the first course + working with international students + setting the tone in the first hour with a ‘triple your $50 in 6 hours’
  • 1:38:43 – Until next time!

Our first design session was on Feb 9 2017 and it went really well. We introduced the whole experiment, checked in with each other, and we got into what we expected to do together in future episodes. Here’s the replay:

Join us + access the whole syllabus, every replay, and all the tools and approaches

You can follow along as I develop and share the whole hour-by-hour course syllabus »

And if you’re an educator, you can catch the replays of any design sessions you miss and get under the hood on all the tools and approaches by registering as a Straight Up Educator »

And if you want to be part of the conversation, you can register to watch our next design session »

I’ll keep this schedule up to date as we go:

DateTopicQuestions we’ll be asking and stuff we’ll be tackling
Feb 9KickoffThis is our first session and it’s all about getting our feet under us and kicking things off. I’ll share what I get up to, and Doan will tell us about his context. The replay can found above on this page. Or watch it here »
Feb 23What do you do in the first week?In this second session we’re going to look at how to start a course like this. What do you do on the first day of class? How should the first week feel in a course like this? How can you set the stage for an authentic experiential entrepreneurship course? How do you break the ice without icebreakers the students think are silly? And with links to meaningful content? Can you really get the whole class out of their seats working as a team on something they beg to do again the next week? (Yes!) The replay can be found above on this page. Or watch it here »
Mar 8From warm ups to a personal practice in ideationIn this session we’ll look at a few more deliberate warm up activities and classroom approaches and how they can help set the stage for the course and the student seeing this work as a deliberate practice that they can develop. Specifically, we’ll tackle something I call Brute Force Ideation which is good but which also serves as a lens on what we might do better as we grow into our ideation practices. Watch it here »
Mar 29The Idea Maker Game and the Cardboard ChallengeThis time we’re going to roll up our sleeves and get right into using the idea design tools in the context of The Idea Maker Game. I’m also going to introduce a constraint I often use called the Cardboard Challenge. Together these provide an action-based introduction to smarter ideation. Register now »
Register for the next episode now »

Thanks for being here!