Over the past few years I have been involved with many events and activities that have tried to stimulate creativity and buzz among undergraduates in business. It seems to me thataprt from the whole ideas generation bit, unless these are tied down in later processes with howto then communicate the value of the idea, make sense of it, commercialise it either in a pure business sense or even as a not for profit sustainable project, then all we do is stimulate frustration!
So it has been great to help design a course at Reading University where we have taken students through a creative process, linked it to business lectures on marketing, finance, team working, legal implications and so forth and had them make presentations using props at an exhibition style event.
Ofcourse as University we look to see if they have learnt anything by asking them to write up plans and essyas and the like, Our business friends who come to judge the output look to see if the ideas are actually feasible in real life and are often moved by the passion of the student teams.
So - what should we measure as success?
Creativity: That students learn tools and techniques; they learn they are capable of being creative; how others "create"; group dynamics when the objective is uncertain...
Convergent thinking: How to shape a vague idea into a business proposition; what to establish as the critical success factors; gaps in knowldeg that need to be covered; the ability for the team work to agree; individual learning about the dynamics of converging a creatiev idea...
Business: when is an idea actually economically feasible; what numbers does one need to look at; at what point should one go pubicwith the idea; the tacit knowldge required in commercialising an idea; marketing and sales questions; cash flow and planning; team leadership...
Employers wonder about this too. They want to know of the students are more fit for purpose after University, what practical skills they might bring and how quickly they canhit the ground running as well as what the potential is for future personal growth and development that can then make a difference to the business itself.
There is much work to do in order to better understand entrpreneurship education, but one thing is clear - that the process of students' learning is so different when this approach is taken - because it is also fun, that something of a seed is planted. The release of energy and enthusiasm is evident - so that is clear and easy to see, even if not to measure!
Maybe entrepreneurship education methodologies should be looked at more carefully to see if they can be transported into other subjects at University.