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Turning Oranges into Lemonade: A Lesson in the Entrepreneurial Method

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Friday, April 24, 2015
Updated: Friday, April 24, 2015

By: Sara Whiffen, Insights Ignited (Effectuation expert for the Coleman ECIA Community of Practice)

Email: sara.whiffen@insightsignited.com

Lilly Pulitzer’s perky patterns incited a mad rush at Target stores this week. Customers were in a frenzy to acquire the bright colors and floral designs that are the hallmark of the preppy brand.  The brand evokes feelings of country clubs and lazy summer lemonade days.  But its creation is rooted in orange juice.

As the story goes, long before Lilly Pulitzer was a brand, she was a wealthy socialite.  Raised in high society New York, she married and moved to Florida where her husband owned a large orange grove. 

Wanting to help with the family business, she would often push a small cart of fresh oranges through a local park.  Dressed in her cool summer whites, she would sell fresh orange juice to passers-by.   Peeling and squeezing the oranges by hand left her with sticky fingers and stained clothing.  Conscious of her appearance, this was just not acceptable to her. 

Inspiration struck one day as she glanced at a set of curtains in her home and thought that the loud, colorful pattern of their 1960s style would surely disguise those persistent orange stains.  She went to a fabric store, purchased a similar design, and fashioned from it a simple shift dress.

Wearing this in the park while pushing her cart, she stood out among the crisp white outfits worn by others.  Her look began to attract as much attention as her fresh orange juice.  Customers began asking for not just a glass of juice, but inquiring as to where they too could purchase a similar dress.  After hearing more and more of these inquiries, she began to make some of the dresses for others.  Her popularity grew and she was able to build an entire brand line from this small start. 

The effectual lemonade principal is clear here.  Her business at the time was selling orange juice.  She did not aspire to grow a fashion brand.  But she was open to trying new things and believed in her ability to solve problems in a way that would work to her advantage.  And when life gave her lemons – or orange juice – she embraced them fully and made her own lemonade.  

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

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Let's Talk Effectuation with Sara Whiffen

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Tuesday, March 31, 2015

There's More to Affordable Risk in Higher Ed. 

By: Sara Whiffen, Insights Ignited

Sara.whiffen@insightsignited.com

When we talk about Affordable Risk in the context of our colleges it becomes clear that there are a set of special risks that exist in the organizational context that are unique to higher education. We asked Sara Whiffen, Effectuation consultant to the NACCE Coleman Foundation Grant Community of Practice to share her perspectives on this topic and here are her top 5 special risks.

1.   Bureaucratic risk- How much are you willing to go off plan?

2.   Cultural risk- Is there a lack of universal understanding about effectuation? Are you culturally disassociated- do you feel like the odd man out?

3.   Reputation risk- The risk of being too far out of the norm- swimming upstream.

4.   Failure risk- Being branded as the failure- it is inherent in entrepreneurship, but not so with institutions.

5.   Solopreneur risk- The idea that as the manager of an entrepreneurship program you have the sole responsibility for entrepreneurship- “lone wolf” doesn’t work it requires shared creation.

Do you see this on your campus? Can you think of other affordable risks you see in the organizational environment? Chime in on the effectuation conversation.

Tags:  Coleman Foundation  community college  economic development  effectuation  entrepreneurial mindset  entrepreneurship  higher education  insights ignited  NACCE 

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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

sara.whiffen@insightsignited.com 

 

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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Crazy Quilt – Boss by Commitment

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Monday, March 16, 2015

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

Email: bruce.mchenry@southmountaincc.edu

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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Spotlight on #PHXstartupweek

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Monday, March 02, 2015

By: Jeff Saville, Gateway CEI, Phoenix AZ

Email contact: jeff.saville@ceigateway.com 

 

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: http://aztechbeat.com/2015/02/3d-printing-cei-gateway-padt-phxstartupweek)

 

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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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

Email: sara.whiffen@insightsignited.com

 

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 Joseph.Kapp@easternwv.edu


 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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Let's Talk Effectuation with Sara Whiffen

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Sunday, February 08, 2015

We invite you to share in a conversation with Sara Whiffen, Effectuation expert and the Coleman Foundation Entrepreneurial Colleges in Action grantees on a question that many of us deal with on our campuses every day. 

Which metrics or measurements do you think best capture the mindset of effectuation -- and why?

Please comment on this posting with your thoughts, ideas, and questions.

Tags:  Coleman Foundation  community college  effectuation  entrepreneurial mindset  entrepreneurship  NACCE 

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Fox Valley TC Pilots an Accelerated Entrepreneurial Mindset Course

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Sunday, February 08, 2015

By: Douglas Schacht, Entrepreneurship Instructor,  Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton WI

For more information email: schacht@fvtc.edu 

The 2014-2015 Coleman Foundation Grant received by Fox Valley Technical College is focused on promoting and piloting an accelerated three-credit entrepreneurial mindset course as an elective for students in program areas that naturally lend themselves to self-employment (horticulture, residential construction, interior design, culinary arts, etc.).  The project was specifically designed to address Presidents for Entrepreneurship Pledge Action Steps 1, 2, 4, & 5.  We chose to create an accelerated, 5-day, 3-credit course to be taught during our January 2015 and August 2015 interim weeks.  Our goal was 15 students per class, and our inaugural class that recently wrapped up had 12 students in it from a variety of program areas. 

I recently completed reading and grading their final reflection papers and was pleasantly surprised by many of the comments shared by students.  The overarching theme went something like “I had no idea what to expect walking into this course but am so glad I took it.  After this experience I am more confident in my future than I ever could have imagined.”  Reflecting on those comments it seems clear that we did a good job helping those students embrace their internal locus of control and power to choose which is critical for these future entrepreneurs. 

A significant lesson learned is that we need to do a better job educating our internal stakeholders on what this course provides and use the students from this course as ambassadors in the recruitment process for the August course.  We will also be reaching out to our Student Life team to engage them in the shaping of this course and outcomes moving forward.

Tags:  Coleman Foundation  community college  effectuation  entrepreneurial mindset  entrepreneurship  fox valley technical college  NACCE 

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Patrick Henry Community College's Effectual Journey

Posted By Kimberly Buck, Friday, January 30, 2015

Kimberly Buck
Community Development Coordinator
Patrick Henry Community College
kbuck@patrickhenry.edu 

 

Our small city in southern Virginia was built on entrepreneurship – and we believe it’s the key to revitalizing our area. Together with NACCE, a grant from the Coleman Foundation, and our crazy quilt, Patrick Henry Community College is introducing effectual thinking to our students, staff, and the public.

Once upon a time, at the turn of the previous century, a group of enterprising young businessmen turned a small tobacco town into a hub of furniture and textile production. Martinsville was the Sweatshirt Capital of the World for some time, and it all began with a handful of entrepreneurs starting small businesses that turned into international corporations. Now that much of our former industry has moved overseas, our economy is shifting and making a comeback. Our focus with our Coleman grant is on training people to be their own bosses, to start businesses that can’t be outsourced, to add to our local quality of life and employ our neighbors. We also want to show our stakeholders how effectual thinking can be applied to solve problems and come up with innovative solutions.

PHCC has a great entrepreneurship and small business management program on the credit side of the house that is taught by a successful local businessman. We have worked with NACCE for more than a year to introduce effectual principles to our faculty, staff, and local business leaders. However, we needed to take our efforts to the next level and bring these valuable lessons campus and community-wide.

Last spring, we piloted two entrepreneurial programs, hosting the area’s first Martinsville Mini Maker Faire and a Jump Start! Student Entrepreneurship weekend. Though we had a very short turnaround time to market these events and drum up registrations, there was a great response from the community. The Mini Maker Faire, a free and family-friendly festival of innovation, drew more than 200 members of the public. The Jump Start weekend was marketed to local high school and college students and offered a “crash course” on effectuation and the nuts and bolts of starting a business. More than 20 students signed up and spent their Friday evening and all day Saturday in the workshops, and two new businesses resulted from our program. This showed us that there is a need and a hunger for entrepreneurial education in our community.

We applied to the Coleman Foundation to continue and expand these efforts to encourage innovation and entrepreneurial thinking, as well as providing professional development to our staff. After learning from the NACCE conference how other community colleges are implementing effectuation, we’ve made some strategic pivots and revised our plan. We’ve had to make lemonade when our original plan of a campus-wide rollout in January was not possible, and when a planned speaker proved too expensive for our budget.

First, we decided to take it a bit slower for deeper implementation. We plan to bring a speaker here to “train the trainers” on our campus this semester and then roll out the campus-wide initiative at the beginning of the fall semester. One of our Birds in Hand is the campus SCALE team, which stands for the Southern Center for Active Learning Excellence. The team is comprised of six certified instructors on the PHCC faculty from a variety of disciplines who have successfully delivered trainings to more than 120 other colleges. They will be empowered this spring to disseminate the effectuation message well beyond the end of the grant period.

Also, our Jump Start weekend has changed form. We’re working with members of our Crazy Quilt to bring the Extreme Entrepreneurship tour to Martinsville. (If you were fortunate enough to meet Sheena Lindahl at the NACCE conference, this is her company.) Students who participate in our entrepreneurship event will be eligible to compete in a pitch competition for prizes to get their business idea off the ground.

Partnership gives us a chance to combine our financial and human resources with another workforce organization and the local high schools to make this exciting tour happen. That doesn’t mean this is an easy process – the more partners in our quilt, the longer it takes to make decisions and schedule events. But, together, we will touch a larger audience and will be able to make something happen that formerly was out of reach.

Tags:  Coleman Foundation  economic development  effectuation  innovation  NACCE  Patrick Henry Community College 

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