Heading to NACCE 2014 Middlesex Community College (MCC) had a mission to kick start the “Expanding the MCC Entrepreneurial Ecosystem” project with the help of the NACCE community and the Coleman Foundation through the ECIA grant. This project is aimed at three of the Presidents for Entrepreneurship Pledge action steps:
- Create or Expand Internal & External Teams Dedicated to Entrepreneurship
- Increase Entrepreneurs’ Engagement in Community Colleges
- Create Buzz and Broad Exposure of your College’s Commitment to Entrepreneurship.
The core of our project has 3 main deliverables:
- Establishing a Cross-Disciplinary Internal Team of Faculty Dedicated to Broadening Student Understanding of and Engagement in Entrepreneurship Opportunities
- Expanding the Entrepreneur-in Residence Program to a Network of Entrepreneurs-in-Residence
- Sponsoring major entrepreneurship events each semester. (More information on the specifics of the project will be revealed in future posts as they get co-created!)
Upon our return, we began sowing the seeds for self-selection and co-creation. We did this by announcing in every encounter and official meeting the news of our success in Arizona during the conference. Our glee was meeting with equal amount of support from our fellow college community members as well as the external partners that began to get wind of our project moving forward.
One of the first things we did was to announce it during a Faculty and Staff Association meeting. A number of faculty and staff members contacted me after the meeting to offer their support and willingness to collaborate I have to admit I was not expecting so many members of the staff to be interested. I can’t wait to hear more about their ideas of how they can help shape this project from their corners of the institution.
That was the beginning of reaching out to our “Birds-in-hand”. We followed up with meetings with the Asst. Deans of every academic subdivision to identify and invite their faculty to raise their hands to become one of our entrepreneurship champions. We also engaged in conversation with our Professional Development office to begin creating a workshop series to develop the “entrepreneurship champions” understanding of the entrepreneurial method.
Taking these first steps in, not only announcing the project, but inviting the community to get involved in any capacity that feels comfortable to them and allowing for co-creation has proven very effective. You can almost feel the project changing from an Entrepreneurship Program initiative to a college wide collaborative initiative.
- Everyone you meet is a good audience to share what your project is. You never know where you are going to get that connection, flash of inspiration, innovative thought that will steer the project in a better direction.
- We don’t know what others are willing to do or give, so don’t limit your possibilities with questions that predefine the outcome.
- Our colleges have many initiatives all the time that tend to live in silos. Break the silo, let go of the ownership of the project, let it be the college’s project.
- Stay true to the “why” you are engaging your college in the project and let the “what” you do to get it accomplish be shaped by those who take an interest in fulfilling that “why”.