A Powerful Learning Tool
In November, I joined Heidi Neck, associate professor of entrepreneurship and Jeffry A. Timmons Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies, as an adjunct faculty member for an MBA course she was leading, “Design Thinking for Entrepreneurial Thought and Action.” During an intensive three days, students learned the principles of design thinking, a methodology for identifying and creating new opportunities, while trying to solve a critical problem: How can we develop new programs that help people learn about, practice, and engage in entrepreneurship?
What makes design thinking such a powerful tool is that it helps you figure out how to unravel a problem when you have no idea how to solve it. Most students in the class did not begin with a big vision and, in fact, learned that a premature and well-defined vision too early in the process can create a barrier for different ideas to emerge. Instead, they practiced Entrepreneurial Thought and Action—they took action and learned as they progressed.
The course was a spinoff of the Entrepreneur Experience Lab (EEL) that Babson launched last year with the research firm Business Innovation Factory (BIF) to understand better what entrepreneurs experience on a daily basis (see page 3). Babson is partnering with BIF to start new conversations and create new definitions around entrepreneurship. With our mastery of the method for teaching entrepreneurship and our understanding of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, it is both our opportunity and responsibility to continue to craft innovative new programs that support entrepreneurs.
At the same time, we will continue to incorporate design thinking into Babson courses. It is embedded in the MBA modules and several undergraduate courses, including “Social Entrepreneurship by Design.” In the future, you will hear much more about how the EEL and design thinking are enriching the ways we teach entrepreneurship and the Babson learning experience.
Leonard A. Schlesinger