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Sharing best practice in design thinking for entrepreneurship

EEUK Event photo

23 April 2018

Enterprise educators from across the UK visited the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship for a best-practice conference looking at the intersection of design thinking and enterprise education.

On the 18th April we hosted a best-practice conference on ‘Design Thinking meets Enterprise Education’ here at the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Enterprise Educators UK (EEUK). We’re proud members of EEUK, a network representing enterprise and entrepreneurship educators across most UK universities and beyond, and it was great to have over 40 of our national colleagues visit us to showcase our work and share best practice.

In addition to explaining our pioneering degree programmes, two staff in the Centre took to the stage to explore some of the opportunities and tensions inherent in incorporating design thinking and entrepreneurial education.

Ann Padley is one of our Teaching Fellows in Design Thinking and has a background in marketing and went on to specialise in Service Design and Design Thinking Education. She has co-developed and co-delivered much of our Design Thinking teaching in the Centre. Dave Jarman is one of our Teaching Fellows in Entrepreneurship and has a background in skills training, career coaching, and start-up support. He has co-developed and co-delivered a lot of our venture-creation teaching in the Centre and more broadly across the University through Bristol Futures.

Ann and Dave explored definitions of Design Thinking and how those are integrated into teaching; sometimes this is dedicated, explicit, and extensive, sometimes implicit or mentioned in passing as part of a broader process of problem-solving or start-up creation (Figure 1).

Image of four year progression through design thinking and entrepreneurship

Figure 1: Early conceptual model of the intersection of design thinking and entrepreneurship at the Centre

They highlighted the value of Design Thinking as both a model through which to explore challenges and opportunities as well as a creative discipline that prevents people from rushing to easy (but potentially obvious or false) solutions and instead discovering genuinely informative and original insights that can lead to breadth of potential solutions.

The two shared some challenges educators may face when design thinking meets entrepreneurship. Topping the list includes finding the right balance of time spent within the curriculum, contextualising appropriately for different groups as either ‘mindset-development or a tool for ‘business development’, and bridging that tension between a consultant-type ‘needs-first’ process of exploring or a founder-type ‘ideas first’ process where Design can be an afterthought to find an audience for a technical invention (Figure 2).

Approaches to innovation: needs-first & ideas-first

Figure 2: Approaches to Innovation

Over the course of the event Ann also walked participants through an example of our own Design Thinking process to showcase how we teach and the amazing teaching studio we use (Figure 3)!

Design thinking exercise

Figure 3: Artifacts from the Design Thinking exercise

We received some great feedback on the day and look forward to showcasing more of our practice in the future.

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