My Enterprising Week 5- Welcome to Norway- Skål!

Waiting for the results to come in, at #JAEEC19, Oslo, Norway.

If you are wondering what ‘Skål’ means, it’s a toast, or cheers in Norwegian! I found myself saying this again and again over the last week as I spent a wonderful four days in the Norwegian capital of Oslo, as part of the Junior Achievement European Enterprise Challenge 2019, see #JAEEC19 on Twitter for a full list of posts.

What a fabulous time and I was hugely proud to assist the UK Young Enterprise representatives from University of Chester- The Goat Tree, a co-operative retailing Argon oil and setting up educational programmes within Morocco to help with Literacy and Numeracy.

The whole experience was truly memorable as I was able to spend time with students and educators from fifteen other European countries sharing ideas and knowledge around Enterprise Education. This time is invaluable, and I truly believe allows one to gain so much in a short period of time, just by having conversations and listening to how others approach their work.

The competing teams from around Europe for this years #JAEEC19

All the students from the competing teams around Europe I know will never forget this experience and we were able to spend time in fantastic venues such as BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo Science Park, Oslo City Hall and the most beautiful residential house I have perhaps ever visited Villa Smedbråten, home to one of the judges!

The team from the UK competed with huge amounts of passion and no shortage of skill and social innovation, indeed they came runner up in a Societal Sector Award, which from 17000 starting students back in September is some achievement. The overall winner however came from the host country of Norway- a company called Artifish, which is dedicated to improving the aquaculture industry. The company’s solution is based on the training of cleaner fish, using its own-designed training system EDDI (Educational Digital Intelligence) – take a look at the website and you can see the standard that was on show, really quite breath-taking!

Artifish from Norway, a worthy winner!

In summary, a wonderful few days in some beautiful settings with colleagues that although I see only once per year, we continue to build increasingly close connections whenever we have time together. I only wonder why some people see closer connectivity with Europe as something not to celebrate, by taking some time to spend with likeminded people from around the continent you appreciate just what being part of a wider European family is all about. Politics over…

A short video of some of what I enjoyed whilst in Oslo!

In other news since I last blogged, I was thrilled to see one of my favourite Universities for Enterprise, Manchester Met University heavily featured in a recent article within the Think Enterprise magazine produced by the Institute for Enterprise and Entrepreneurs.

This article discusses how the University through Enterprise Education, including much of the work I lead upon is developing Societal and Environmental Responsible Graduates. You can look at the full article here, but it re-emphasises that which I am currently studying myself that People and Planet are now truly as equal with Profit, and never has this been more apparent than by working with student entrepreneurs who continue to put Societal needs at the forefront of their start-ups.

An article by David Taylor of Manchester Met University features in the Think Enterprise Magazine, IOEE

I also noticed some interesting articles that you may want to read from both a student and enterprise educator perspective.

Firstly for students who have an entrepreneurially spirit and want to find out more about freelancing, take a look at the ‘Freelancing while you’re at University’ article from Freelance UK, I really enjoyed this simple article and there are some smart links that I think I should action myself, it talks about your personal website acting as a showcase!

For educators I return to one of my favourite sources of inspiration Teaching and their ‘Recommended Tools for Teaching Entrepreneurship’ article. I say this regularly, but the quality and quantity of the free content distributed by these guys I find superb. It could well be placed behind some form of paywall but its open and accessible, do visit if you get opportunity.

Finally a gentleman I follow on Twitter and I know from Enterprise Educating colleagues as a globally respected educator in the sector called Colin Jones has tweeted for others to contact him if they would like to contribute any thoughts to a forthcoming book he is writing ‘On becoming an Entrepreneurship Educator’. Of those who enjoy my blog I am sure this would be something you might be interested to find out more about.

Thanks for the support, please do share my blog if you find it interesting and for now- Skål!

My Enterprising Week 4- Ready, Set, MVP!

I took a break last week from writing as was keen to ensure that a new pilot project I have been working upon I was able to talk about in this week’s post. I am pleased that pilot has now been successfully completed.

Last week, at the University of Liverpool I completed my first full Minimal Viable Product (MVP) workshop with approx. 15 MSc International Students. I have been studying MVP for some time now and how it links within the Lean Start-up framework, however, until now had not had the opportunity to test this in a live environment within a University. I was thrilled to get this opportunity to work with such an inspired and wonderful set of students from every corner of the globe, it really was an International affair!

Students from University of Liverpool working on an MVP Workshop

I have been taking inspiration from several other Enterprise Educators globally around what can be realistically achieved in a short space of time and I have to say what occurred went beyond my wildest ambition.

The challenge I set both groups of students, six within each group was to come up with a form of business concept around the product of coffee, this could be a new coffee shop, blend or bean, whatever they wished, however it had to focus in some way around coffee. I used the coffee business for the simple reason its something we all know about, and I didn’t want to waste time that could be used generating the MVP with students overthinking the topic area, for this activity the topic area wasn’t really the driver. It was very much about the action and ‘doing’.

I gave them two hours to complete the challenge, some basic instruction upon how to use WordPress and the ask was that they must provide a basic functional website landing page which was live (this was important, we needed to press the all important publish button), all copy and imagery produced and embedded (royalty free of course), a form of data collection to find out the thoughts and feelings of potential customers and at least one social media channel connected, live and with a call to action.

The students really got into the swing of this very quickly with the help of some fantastic mentors I had working with them. What was produced in the two hours was terrific and it gave me great enthusiasm to run this session again with some small changes. With switched on, ambitious students the amount of work, from an absolute standing start that can be created in 2 hours is quite something. Look at one of the landing pages produced from a group, as I mention, these students had no idea what the challenge would be on arrival and indeed had never even met each other. I was really very impressed indeed. If you would like more information about this, do get in touch.

The key learning we looked at within this session was the premise around what an MVP is, and what it isn’t, the difference between MVP and Prototype and more broadly the sheer amount of work and speed of work that can be produced when all are pulling in the same direction with a clear objective.

Another interesting video I came across in the last week was tweeted by a gentleman called Martin Lackeus from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. I think I have mentioned following Martin in previous posts, you can follow @mlackeus its well worth doing so as he often brings valuable and interesting points to the table in all areas of Enterprise Education, I find many of them quite fascinating.

The video tweeted this week is called The Diamond: A definition framework for understanding what being entrepreneurial means. Have a look at this, my understanding is this is a beta test video so changes perhaps could still be made, but it’s a really very interesting piece of work. I really like this especially the area of entrepreneurial responsibility. It poses some questions for educators about if we perhaps sometimes over emphasise certain areas of Ented, I think I have been guilty of this myself; this video does give me another perspective about ensuring all sections of the ‘diamond’ are given adequate consideration.  

As so often I try and keep aware of courses that I see and hear about and this week was no exception. Through LinkedIn I was made aware of two courses that could be of interest to Enterprise Educators.

The first is a beginner’s course called; Empower every student with an inclusive classroom. This is part of the Microsoft Edu Community package of courses which is free to access and very short, its anticipated to be completed in approx. one hour. This course is designed for educators of all subject areas who want to empower students to utilise tools to unlock their full potential by addressing a diversity of needs. 

I’m quite impressed with the Microsoft Edu Community, it might be something you wish to get more involved within, if so, the link is here.

Another course which seems to be part of a much wider paid package I noticed from a trainer called Andrew Sillitoe. I don’t know much about Andrew aside from what I have read from his LinkedIn biography but a promotional video posted called ‘Live Your Vision- Improvement Goals’ essentially, what things you wish to fundamentally require or change to achieve your goals, did spark my imagination.

I would look at the video and see if this or any other areas of the larger project are of interest. I feel I am at a stage of my career where I am very much trying to align my own personal vision to allow me to reach my goals, so perhaps the video just hit home at a personal moment, but nevertheless I would be interested to know more about this, or indeed if anybody has completed any of Andrew’s online courses- do let me know.

Finally, before I go, an article which did make me smile. As a father to a three-year-old I know only too well the daily challenges that come with parenthood and watching your child make mistake after mistake but being able to actively observe that inherent drive to keep going until they get things right.

A really nice article published by Forbes this week was ‘A Toddler’s Guide to Entrepreneurship’, essentially the article looks at how many of the principles of entrepreneurship are simple enough for a toddler to understand. I especially liked the four areas whereby the author claims entrepreneurs and toddlers need to strike to succeed, these being; Be ready to Iterate fast, Learn from the Pain (so true), Have no fear and Use what you have. A wonderful little article that certainly made me smile!

Thanks for reading and see you all very soon.