In the fall I am going to teach a new undergraduate seminar at FIU--"Entrepreneurship, Design and Thinking". In many ways this course is the result of my thinking over the last three years on entrepreneurship. An important part of my thinking on entrepreneurship is that it is a process, a deliberate set of steps, that leads to better results. I now believe that this process has two parts:
- The design process, in which the customer problem is defined and a solution is developed to fill the gap caused by the problem. An excellent book on the design process is Karl Ulrich's Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society, which is used in Ulrich's Coursera design course.
- The business model process, wherein the five parts of a business model are systematically analyzed and the best choices are selected. (My book, Billion Dollar Company, deals with the business model process.)
However, neither of these processes individually or together explain the difference between great new business ideas and mediocre ones. What explains the difference is the quality and type of thinking that one brings to the development of the startup. Therefore, to provide a complete methodology on entrepreneurship, I have concluded that I need to teach about thinking, the alternative approaches to problem solving and other methodologies.
Fortunately, Marvin Minsky has written a lot on the subject of thinking about complex problems. One of Minsky's books that deals with thinking is "The Emotion Machine: Commonsense Thinking, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of the Human Mind". (Ulrich studied with Minsky at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab, that Minsky co-founded.) The quote from Minsky that started me thinking about thinking is a remark he made at the 25th anniversary of the MIT Media Lab.
As I more fully develop the curriculum for the seminar, I will be posting on the readings for the course. I will continue to teach my courses on entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship.