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Let's Talk Effectuation with Sara Whiffen

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Monday, March 23, 2015
Updated: Monday, March 23, 2015


What is Affordable Loss?

By: Sara Whiffen, Insights Ignited 


We asked our Coleman ECIA Community of Practice Effectuation Expert Sara Whiffen to weigh in on a good definition of the Affordable Loss principle and how it relates to community colleges as we teach and advise prospective and current entrepreneurs. Here's what Sara had to say.

  • Affordable loss is what you are willing to lose to make the idea successful.
  • What it is not—it is not expected return. It is not a forecasted upside.
  • Most importantly, it is not a desire to lose money.

It’s not saying that you’re going to throw it away or intentionally lose money. Instead, it’s saying that if you have to lose it, it won’t bankrupt you. It’s the recognition that innovation is based on experimentation and failures that lead to successes.

Affordable loss is the safety net in response to “true” uncertainty. Making decisions in the presence of uncertainty is the essence of entrepreneurship – economists tell us this. There is known. Unknown. And Unknowable risk. Affordable loss is how you can venture into the Unknowable territory. To truly be innovative you have to go there. Affordable loss serves as your safety net in this.


It sets you up for more options in the future. Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. 


Stay tuned because in Sara's next blog she will share the perspective of affordable loss as it relates to the intrapreneur within the community college.

Tags:  Coleman Foundation  effectuation  entrepreneurship  Insights Ignited  NACCE 

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Reaching & Engaging Faculty

Posted By Steven Groner, Saturday, March 21, 2015
Updated: Monday, March 23, 2015

We have worked hard to develop good answers to "What's In It For Me? (WIIFM)". Let me address what we have learned about adding value for the faculty at Kaskaskia College. In a later blog, we will share lessons learned about approaching staff and alumni. Of course, the WIIFM will differ!

The first step was to get the faculty listening. We did this by using a point that Feather River College made in their "The New World of Work" studies- 50% of your students will be self-employed at some point in their careers. Then, we gained agreement that virtually everyone can benefit from sharpened problem solving and critical thinking skills. Next, we have begun to introduce effectuation as one technique that addresses these two topics. We find that using the statement "the future is unknowable, but it is creatable" holds the listeners interest while introducing the effectuation concepts.

OK, so now the faculty is listening, and you must quickly get to the WIIFM- What's In It For Me pitch. The items that we think will work at our school are:

1. Focus on those that show interest and don't try to win everyone over immediately. We are in this for the long haul. For those showing interest, help to meet their specific needs.

2. Be a Gamification resource for your college and faculty. Our faculty is under great pressure to make on-line course content more engaging and interesting.

3. Construct Case Study "shells" that encourage customization by various programs. Invite faculty to blend them into their diverse programs.

4. Provide guidance to faculty members on how to sharpen student skills in critical thinking and problem solving. Help them create their dreaded self-assessment goals (required each semester) and provide suggested ways to measure.

5. Offer effectuation workshops to departmental advisory boards as a way to incent community members to serve on said boards.

It took alot of digging to determine what will really work in our environment. Now that these nuggets have been uncovered, we feel much more confident in moving forward.

Tags:  Critical Thinking  Faculty Development  Gamification  Kaskaskia College  Problem Solving  WIIFM 

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Lemonade at Middlesex Community College

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Monday, March 16, 2015

By: Luciano M. Sappia Asst. Professor of Business and Entrepreneurship, Middlesex Community College, MA


During a recent session of Entrepreneurship in Small Business Management course (unofficially "Venture Development") a student was particularly troubled because she could not find or articulate a strong point of differentiation for the business she was looking to establish. She was in fact finding more obstacles and draw backs in her business model than positive attributes. She had come to the course with the idea of exploiting her trades training in masonry. During the process of the "Bird-in-hand" (assessing your means) this particular student set her goals on starting her own independent masonry practice. She quickly found that there is a strong bias preventing tradeswomen from entering and securing bids for construction related jobs (electrical, plumbing, masonry, carpentry, roofing, etc..) The feedback the student received from her classroom "Quilt" (network of peers and instructor) after she first revealed her finding was to use this bias as her point of differentiation. During this first attempt to turn this "lemon" into "lemonade" the student also realized that this was not just her problem but a problem faced by many tradeswomen that also affected the consumers. Another student had also point out that many women in the consumer side are not always comfortable having strange men come inside the house when they are the only ones there making it difficult and inconvenient to schedule repairs and other jobs.  Encouraged by her classmates the student is now enjoying a "Sweet Glass of Lemonade" as she will now be focusing beyond just her own masonry practice and develop a referral network and database of tradeswomen for women.

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Crazy Quilt – Boss by Commitment

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Monday, March 16, 2015

By: Bruce McHenry, Business Faculty, South Mountain Community College, Phoenix, AZ


As one of the colleges in the Community of Practice for this year’s Entrepreneurial College in Action grant – Powered by the Coleman Foundation – we’re spending a lot of time talking, presenting, and thinking about Effectuation and the Effectual Cycle.  One of our observations: as we build the Crazy Quilt of self-selected co-creators – we are gaining “bosses by commitment”.  In our formal positions on campus, faculty, staff, administrator, etc., we have a role and a responsibility to our bosses in their role.  As faculty, I have a Division Chair, a Dean, a Vice President and a President.  All have formal authority as defined by the lines and boxes on the organization chart. 

By contrast when we meet a co-creator who hears about our Bird in Hand (means) and Affordable Loss (risk) and Goals – when that person commits and self-selects to join our Quilt – we have made them a boss by commitment.  They have no formal authority, but by committing we now have an obligation to them and they have obligation to us.  With a new co-creator our quilt has gained new means and possibly a different risk of loss.  We must evaluate that.  With new means we may have new goals.  Those new goals may mean a loss of autonomy as I’m now moving jointly (I was desperately trying for some pun here about knitting the quilt but fail!) with that new boss, whose commitment makes them one of the Pilots-in-the-Plane. Sounds a touch scary, but in reality very fun!  We’re getting to engage with all sorts of committed folks who are opening up new opportunities for our students and community entrepreneurs.  More good news to come!

Tags:  Coleman Foundation  effectuation  entrepreneurial mindset  entrepreneurship  NACCE  south mountian community college 

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Identifying additional resources

Posted By Lynn Anderson, Wednesday, March 04, 2015

The Northeast State Entrepreneurship Grant Committee has identified several resources that can be tapped in developing our Center for Entrepreneurship that encompass the campus community, the business community and potential users/participants.  The anticipated construction of our Emerging Technologies Complex (scheduled to be completed in 2017) will provide a central location for offering workshops, classes, discussion groups, and brain-storming sessions.  The Committee has identified several local groups, organizations and businesses that are either currently offering or looking to offer entrepreneurial support services.  These groups are a part of both our "Bird in Hand" and our "Crazy Quilt".  Northeast State has a very active Foundation and group of advisory committees.  The Committee has scheduled a planning session for 3/4/15 to report on marketing/advertising ideas, workshop presenters and results of conversations with other entrepreneurial groups in the area.

We have two limiting factors (maybe our "Lemonade"???):  the lack of space for our center and the construction of the new Emerging Technologies Complex.  The Center for Entrepreneurship will share space with the Center for Teaching Excellence for the present.  The new complex will house the Center for Entrepreneurship upon completion.  Currently, the impending construction it is a focus for the campus and the Northeast State extended community.  Coordinating with those involved in fundraising for the new building is important to maintain and build lasting relationships for the college. 

We are also engaging other entrepreneurial providers and groups in our five county area to raise awareness and identify partners and participants for our programs. 

 We hope to have more good news to share next month!!

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Spotlight on #PHXstartupweek

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Monday, March 02, 2015

By: Jeff Saville, Gateway CEI, Phoenix AZ

Email contact: 


The end of February saw the spotlight shine bright on the greater Phoenix area and its burgeoning entrepreneurial scene. Phoenix Startup Week, powered by Chase, was a celebration of local startups, their supporters, and our cities. From Scottsdale to Tempe to downtown Phoenix, the week was filled with presentations from some of the best entrepreneurial talent in the community.


The Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation was one of the stops during the week as CEI showcased a growing subculture within the ecosystem: medical device startups. In partnership with MedicoVentures and Phoenix Analysis Design & Technologies (PADT), the afternoon featured Bret Larsen of eVisit, Kent Dicks of Alere Connect, and Matthew Likens of Ultera, Inc., offering their perspectives on the growth and commercialization process for med tech companies. The event culminated with tours of PADT “Startup Labs” at CEI, which features 3D printing and design opportunities for entrepreneurs throughout Phoenix – with a particular focus on medical devices. (For more info, read AZ Tech Beat’s recap:


Overall, every startup ecosystem needs defining moments such as these to gain additional support from the general community – particularly the "uninitiated" outsiders – and to generate local and national exposure for its entrepreneurial initiatives. For at least one week, greater Phoenix incubators, accelerators, co-working spaces, support organizations, corporate partners, and of course entrepreneurs consciously abstained from “operation in isolation” and joined forces to share their stories and learn about one another’s efforts. And we certainly consider Phoenix Startup Week a huge success as a result.


To reference Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton’s tweet on the week: “Nearly [2000] registered, [we are] ready to energize our entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Here’s to doing it all over again next year!

Tags:  community college  economic development  effectuation  entrepreneurial mindset  entrepreneurship  Gateway CEI  Maricopa Corporate College  NACCE 

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Entrepreneurial Effecutation at the "Sub-unit" Level

Posted By Steve Tincher Ph.D., Monday, March 02, 2015
Updated: Monday, March 02, 2015

The Faculty Entrepreneurship Summit Planning Committee is threading a pragmatic application of Entrepreneurial Effectuation throughout the Summit content (launching and marketing Entrepreneurship certificates). It is interesting to note, that the Effectuation process is also evident in the Planning Committee work (see chart below). I had not considered application at this specific “subunit” level. Too micro for the application (?) - doesn't appear "to be"! 

Entrepreneurial Effectuation

Planning for Faculty Entrepreneurial Summit

Bird In Hand

Coleman Grant, Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech Bloomington, Ivy Tech Bloomington hosting the event, 14 ENTR faculty members, Commission for Higher Ed. and Dept. of Ed. approval of the Certificates

Affordable Loss

Opportunity cost of human capital invested in the planning

Crazy Quilt

Coleman Foundation, Local entrepreneurs linkages with the College program, marketing department, NACCE, 14 regions


Change in initial plan for keynote, new keynote emphasis will focus on direct application of Effectuation for specifically launching the new certificates, familiarly/experience of the keynote with community college context


Control of the Summit focus and outcome toward launching/marketing the program/certificates, agenda

Tags:  Sub-unit Effectuation 

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Let's Talk Effectuation with Sara Whiffen

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Thursday, February 26, 2015

The numbers behind Effectuation- How do we show progress in the Entrepreneurial College?

By: Sara Whiffen, Insights Ignited



Consider evaluating your effectual activities in three primary buckets:

    1. Actions  -- Things I did
    2. Activities – How others got involved
    3. Impact – What the outcomes were

Use Qualitative Tracking:

Marketing as a discipline has faced similar challenges (Brand awareness, Customer loyalty, Customer Relationships).


What can we learn from them? 

1.     Process:  Define; Measure; Report; Refine

2.     What’s the effectual equivalent of Customer Relationships, Stakeholders, Presales?·      


Are there other ideas?  Try tracking mindset change


Try framing Qualitative Measurement using the 5 Principles of Effectuation:

1.     Bird in Hand- Did you discover / use any previously slack assets?  Identify things borrowed / recycled rather than purchased.

2.     Affordable Loss- How did you manage to a minimal investment until you saw the idea take root? 

3.     Crazy Quilt- What actions have you taken to nurture co-creative relationships? What ways did you foster for people to create connections? How was a diverse population exposed to your process, so as to increase resources and co-creation opportunities?  What did your stakeholders bring to the project?  Have you made any new relationships?  Engaged any new stakeholders?  Who and what do they bring to the project? 

4.     Lemonade- What did you put in place to remain flexible and take advantage of opportunities as they arise? Did you make any changes to the plan based on new information / partners / resources? 

5.     Pilot in Plane-  What positive externalities did you receive from this worldview? Are people on your team thinking effectually?  Do they feel more confident /optimistic / more in control?   


Let’s not forget the Quantitative tracking:

1.     Bird in Hand-  How were costs reduced by using existing resources? 

2.     Affordable Loss-  Manage to a “spending” or “investment” budget of no more than…$x. 

3.     Crazy Quilt-   Stakeholders – how many are participating?  Are any of these new to your group?  Note:  This is not about getting the most.  But about growing awareness of the co-creation principle through consideration.  How many stakeholders invested more this time than previously? How many stakeholders brought new voices to the table? Percentage increase in number of stakeholders. Number of new areas entered with partners.  Number of students engaged.  Number of community members engaged.

4.     Lemonade-  Dollars saved due to unanticipated acts.  Positive outcomes due to unanticipated acts

5.     Pilot in Plane-  Percentage of time you / your team spend “effectuating”.  Percentage decrease in costs to experiment. Percentage of new ideas tried.  Number of failures (If you’re not failing, you’re not trying – and you’re not learning). Percentage of people impacted / reached by the new idea (remember to define “impacted” at beginning of project). Use these to set a baseline and then look for changes over time.  


We Measure and Track- But then what? 

1.     Publicize·      

  • Integrate with existing reporting.  
  • Create a separate effectual dashboard or highlights report.
  • Tell your stories.

2.     Recognize

  • See successes – reward them
  • Acknowledge failures – learn from them

3.     Reorganize

  • Resistance?  Bring the discussion to what you’re really trying to accomplish and allow the input to shape future iterations.    


Tags:  Coleman Foundation  community college  effectuation  entrepreneurial mindset  entrepreneurship  insights ignited  NACCE 

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Eastern WV Community & Technical College Gets the Whole Community Speaking Effectuation

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Monday, February 23, 2015

Opportunities for Business Startups Available in Wardensville by Jean Flanagan

Reprint Courtesy of the Moorefield Examiner Newspaper, Moorefield WV February 4, 2015

As community colleges and NACCE members we talk about Effectuation (the Entrepreneurial Method) frequently, but Entrepreneur in Residence Joe Kapp & Eastern WV CTC President Chuck Terrell are taking it to the streets of their community and making it part of the local vocabulary on entrepreneurship and small business. Check out this great front page article from their local newspaper. This is definitely "Entrepreneurship in Action". 

For more information contact Joe Kapp at

 Attached Files:

Tags:  Coleman Foundation  community college  Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical Coll  economic development  effectuation  entrepreneurial mindset  entrepreneurship  NACCE 

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Insights from Instructional Technology Council eLearning Conference

Posted By Barbara Millard, Monday, February 23, 2015

Barbara Millard
Associate Professor - Marketing
Johnson County Community College

High Impact Educational Practices are Critical to Success in the Work World

As Jillian Kinzie, Associate Director, Center for Postsecondary Research and the National Survey of Student Engagment (NSSE) opened the closing keynote at the 2015 Instructional Technology Council eLearning conference, she shifted away from our three day focus on eLearning techniques and directed our attention to High Impact Practices (HIP) currently being recognized and encouraged by NSSE and CCSSE (Community College Survey of Student Engagement). These practices include opportunities such learning communities, service learning, study abroad, internships, student success courses, first year seminars and experiences, undergraduate research accelerated developmental education and capstone projects.

According to the NSSE, 81-84% of employers report that student involvement in high impact educational practices is critical to success in the work world. As students enter the work world, these higher impact practices are associated with persistence, deeper approaches to learning, increased critical thinking and a greater appreciation for diversity.

Her suggested “prescription” is that every student’s college career include at least 2 HIPs and she indicated that  many students taking face to face classes are meeting that goal. However, distance education students fall far behind when it comes to participation in HIPs. Her challenge to those of us teaching online – get creative and find ways to offer High Impact Practices to online students. It’s critical to their careers.

Gaming and Gamification

Prior to arriving at the Instructional Technology Council eLearning conference, I knew I was interested in attending sessions on Gaming and Gamification.  Having raised three boys I was aware that games could keep the young person's attention in ways I never could. However, what I learned in the sessions I attended on this topic, was somewhat different than I expected and as a result, my view of Gaming has greatly expanded.

I was introduced to a game development tool called eLearning Brothers. This is the type of application I was initially looking for and I'm excited about the idea of using this tool to customize games to meet my specific course objectives. However, I also learned that this type of tool falls under the classification of "Gaming" while the term "Gamification" refers  to using gaming “techniques” to create a more game like environment in courses using traditional delivery methods. For example, one professor shared her Gamification method which involves assigning online chapter quizzes with 10 - 20 multiple choice questions prior to coming to class. Students are allowed to take the quiz twice and receive the higher grade. Many of us do's a typical practice. But, here’s where the gamification comes in. After the quiz is closed, students are given the opportunity to enter a "Quest" and can take the quiz again up to five times for 2 points extra credit. To young people, failure is okay in games and they are motivated to try again. As they do so, they expect to advance to another level so the instructor has built levels into the course.  Students participating in the Quest can reach various levels based on the number of points they receive. Quest levels can be given titles that fit your subject matter area. In my retail management class, I'm thinking of using the levels of Department Manager, Store Manager and District Manager.

Blogging Best Teaching Practices

Since I find it difficult to turn down a challenge, I couldn’t resist attending the session “I Triple Dog Dare You to Take the 9 x 9 x 25 Challenge” at the recent ITC eLearning Conference. The focus of this session was finding ways to make it easy for busy faculty to share best practices. The presenter, Todd Conaway from Yavapai Community College, was faced the challenge that most of us have - faculty on his campus find it hard to carve out the time for "the professor in office A to share successful practices with the professor in office B”.  In an attempt to overcome that obstacle, he created the Triple Dog Dare 9x9x25 Challenge.

Todd challenged faculty to commit to writing a 25 sentence blog each week for 9 weeks. The blog had to be about teaching and learning. He felt the word “challenge” was a critical part of the project. According to Todd, “faculty wouldn't do it if assigned the task but to challenge faculty is whole different matter”. And, he sweetened that challenge with ice cream! Those who wrote the first week received a pint of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream. Following weeks were rewarded with items such as books and water bottles and at the end of the year, a luncheon.  The result: a permanent record of best practices that can be accessed by faculty anytime, anywhere. More details about the challenge can be found at

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