All levels of entrepreneurship begin with one thought. How can we do this better. We encourage students to foster this disruptive thinking. Through the idea stages we run workshops, games and activities that get the students to push the boundaries of their ideas before we get into filtering. We look for collisions between them and then use critical thinking to sharpen them.
Finally, with all ideas we encourage them to explore both the human cost and the benefit to society and try to reduce the former and blend the latter into their business models. We don’t try to deliberately create social enterprises (that is not our agenda), but I strongly believe that business that will stay for the long-term must have these 2 facets incorporated into their operating models.
The program at the Academy is set up to make a change, we wouldn’t bother otherwise. That means we prompt an individual to take responsibility for their growth and to get them to think of the benefit to others.
This manifests in 2 ways. The first is on day one we do a ‘deep dive’ into the students personalities and behaviours using the Lumina model provided by industry professionals who work with large corporations in empowering workforces (Sentiens). This maps out where the student is starting from an areas to concentrate on for personal growth and to be more rounded individual. Secondly, through our emphasis on Design Thinking and in particular the 1st stage of this process, empathy. An unspoken quality that is at heart of entrepreneurship. Great entrepreneurs have the ability to feel the pain of others and thereby create solutions. To lead teams also requires an empathic approach, to listen to understand the challenges they face and again to find solutions so that they can be as effective as possible.
Our core focus is on developing a mindset that embraces the following concepts: Curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration & conflict resolution, compassion and community. In this vein we teach the students in a one-to-one environment that their thoughts influence actions and ultimately manifest the reality that they believe in.
Through this process we actively pursue communication and engagement that challenges, where there is no wrong or right answers but we teach the ability to defend and explain what it is that you are doing, why you are doing it and how it will work. Students present their thoughts and ideas and invite criticism from the floor. This is to help build resilience, help deepen the understanding of bias’s, judgements and concepts they may have, help uncover assumptions and finally strengthen their propositions.
The programs themselves move at a pace. We expect the students to learn in their own time through site links and videos that we send to them each evening, complete homework overnight that is presented the next day and during the day they are immersed in workshops where they apply what they have learned. Self-directed learning is a discipline that we want to instil.
In addition the students split into teams (min 2) and are ‘pitching’ against each other on the final day. The pitch day is when they present their propositions to an experienced panel and receive critical but constructive feedback.
During the day the students will be expected to direct their own time and make decisions on what they need to complete and by when. They are expected to self-organise and be driven to completing the tasks at hand - of course we are there to nudge and guide and mentor, but we really want them to take responsibility themselves.