The Dyslexic Professor: January 2018

For me, 2017 closed with the final (52nd) weekly blog as ‘The Dyslexic Professor’ and 2018 sees my first monthly blog. The plan is to focus on my activities and, where possible, any links to dyslexia. So, less frequent,  less reflective but more topical – at least I hope so!

This month has been all about teaching or preparing for it.

The publication of the second edition of  Exploring Entrepreneurship published by Sage Publishing came at just the right time for me. I am currently delivering a new module ‘Business Start-up’ at Lancaster University Management School to 100 2nd-year undergraduates. A good range of students from across the Management School. Interestingly, for a new optional module, it is the room size that is dictating the number of students. We could have recruited twice over. So, next year there could be 200 students and perhaps from across the University.

Exploring Entrepreneurship is co-authored with Professor Richard Blundel (Open University) and Professor Catherine Wang (Brunel University London) and is split in two parts: Practice (how to) and Perspectives (theory). The practice chapter takes the learner from vision to raising finance over seven chapters – each using video challenges to bring the entrepreneur’s voice into the classroom.

This pedagogical device has four elements: a) an anonymous entrepreneur presents a real challenge they have faced but pauses at a critical decision point – helpfully giving 3 to 4 options; b) learners debate which option they think the entrepreneur would choose; c) learners vote; d) the entrepreneur reveals the decision they took and why. I, and I think my students, really enjoy learning from entrepreneurs. Emma is an excellent example.

In the first three weeks, we covered: i) Introduction to the module, learning outcomes, assessment, types of entrepreneurship. (EE Chapter 2: Varieties of Entrepreneurship); ii) The Entrepreneur (EE Chapter 11: Individual Perspectives: Beyond the ‘Heroic’ Entrepreneur); iii) Guest lecture on Open Innovation and SMEs by Brian Gregory (whilst I was in Ghana). Groups for the first assignment were formed and the new venture creation process started – pitches in week 6!

And now to the inspirational trip to Accra, Ghana as part of the Global Challenge Research Fund: £6.7 million RECIRCULATE  project, which is all about challenge-led disciplinary and interdisciplinary research that strengthens capacity for research and innovation within both the UK and developing countries.

The four-day Entrepreneurship and Innovation workshop brought together researcher and industry communities to tackle the big challenges around the water economy in Africa. More about the design in next month’s blog but suffice it to say that, energy and enthusiasm were always evident and sustained the whole cohort through intense group activities over long days.

With the daytime temperature at 32C, it was a great way to end the month! It also strikes me that so much of my teaching is based on picture thinking – trying to connect the theory of entrepreneurship to practice through storytelling by me or directly from the entrepreneur. Next month, I will discuss the use of business models to help bring the entrepreneurial process alive.

Nigel Lockett