My employer Sanoma is currently doing a good job with what we call “Accelerator programs”. The essence of these programs is to teach lean startup methodologies to corporate people via concrete idea development and validation process. Intrapreneurship, that’s what it is about.
So far we’ve completed two programs and the third one is currently on. Last year I enrolled to the first program, Mobile Accelerator, and really liked it. For the second one, Content Accelerator, I took part as an evaluator of learning-related ideas. Now we have Commerce Accelerator going on and I am coaching student participants.
For the first two programs we had people from within Sanoma only, but now we are inviting also higher ed students to join. I think this is great! Entrepreneurialism has started to make its way big time to Finnish higher education institutions and it is awesome if we can support this trend.
What about K-12, then? As we know, children have the window open to learn new things effortlessly. If entrepreneurialism, intrapreneurialism, startup-culture, and lean methods are so important, why don’t we teach them earlier? It shouldn’t come as a surprise to us that entrepreneurial thinking is alien to people if they were always taught to be risk-averse when growing up.
Albemarle County School District in Virginia, USA, is addressing this. They have started with the maker approach which is probably a good choice. Building stuff is concrete and gets children interested and motivated. It also expands student-centered education beyond the traditional “creative” arts subjects to “harder” ones like STEM.
Once the children have designed and built their own things, they can go on and validate how they work, think about how to get their friends to use them (marketing), and return to the drawing board to make them better.
What do you think, should startup thinking (and doing!) be taught to children?