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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)


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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Reaching & Engaging Administrative Staff

Posted By Kaskaskia College _, Sunday, April 19, 2015
Updated: Sunday, April 19, 2015

Kaskaskia College is part of the Coleman ECIA Project. In a previous post, we covered Reaching & Engaging Faculty plus the ah-ha discoveries about how to present "what's-in-it-for-me?"or WIIFM. In recent weeks we have tackled the same topic for administrative staffers and non-teaching personnel. We have been concerned that support staff do not look at what they do as entrepreneurial, and question why be entrepreneurial at all? Early in the project we tried to discuss intrapreneurs and obtained modest success, or at least polite listening. In our opinion however when you want to push beyond this polite listening, you must get right back to WIIFM. We see this as key to locating active buy-in and co-creators. So, here is an outline of elements to consider when reaching and engaging administrative staff:

1. What is expected from your staff? (Know where they are coming from & what is important to them)

a. Manage & use resources effectively

b. Assure compliance with rules & regulations

c. Assist faculty in creating a positive & comprehensive learning environment

d. Provide a broad learning experience that meets diverse needs

e. Be a productive and vibrant part of the community

f. Keep track of everything

2. What challenges does staff face? (What makes their jobs challenging & stressful)

a. The pressure to be less place bound (delivery of services convenient to citizens and not necessarly to school)

b. Meet expectations for immediate service

c. Adopt/adapt to changing technology

d. Continuous improvement in efficiency

e. A feeling that everything is "all about the numbers"

f. Creating individualized learning experiences in an efficient manner

g. Coping with generational differences

h. Dealing with budget and staff cuts

Only after engaging, listening and coming to understand the staffers can effective futures be created together. We think that conversations must focus on the individuals, not just the employee. Effectuation can build self confidence and equip individuals or teams to confront challenges faced. Effectuation principles can help illuminate pathways to solutions and help to maximize resources allocated. As in all things, once you respect and understand others, productive synergies can occur.

A summer goal for Kaskaskia College is to have a cross functional, effectual group begin to do "compare & contrast" exercises: "Today we do "X" and in an effectual world we would do _________________." When we achieve this, we will know that we have made great strides with entrepreneurship.



Tags:  Coleman Foundation  community college  effectuation  entrepreneurial mindset  entrepreneurship  intrapreneur  Kaskaskia College  WIIFM 

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Update on Northeast State Center For Entrepreneurship

Posted By Lynn Anderson, Tuesday, April 7, 2015

We have found a temporary home for the Center For Entrepreneurship!!  The CFE will be sharing space with the Center for Teaching Excellence while we await the construction of the Emerging Technologies Complex on the campus of Northeast State.  The two groups have much in common and we will be able to work together to further the goals of both groups.  While the space is limited, we have enough room to hold meetings and small gatherings.  The Center for Teaching Excellence is houses desktop computers, laptops, iPad's and two printers that are available for use.

On April 21, 2015, Tom Crosby the President of Pal's will conduct a seminar for students, faculty and staff.  Pal's is a regional fast-food provider started by Pal Barger that is a national Malcolm Baldridge Quality Award winner.  Pal's is also the recipient of two Tennessee Excellence Awards.  The seminar will focus on how this local small business developed, implemented and maintains a world-class operation.

Additional seminars/workshops are being discussed.  It is hoped that these will not be limited to the Northeast State campus community, but will be open to the public.  We are exploring connections with local entrepreneurs to lead these gatherings.  We hope to involve other resource groups in these seminars/workshops to reach a broader user base and to make the community aware of the resources available at Northeast State.

Tags:  entrepreneurship  higher education  Malcolm Baldridge Quality Award  Northeast State Community College 

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Ivy Tech Summit on Entrepreneurship Update

Posted By Steve Tincher Ph.D., Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Update - Ivy Tech Faculty Summit on Entrepreneurship

Plans are progressing well for the Ivy Tech Summit on Entrepreneurship as the event is being co-created with numerous stakeholders. The Summit will be held June 17th -18th in Bloomington, IN. This will provide all participants with the opportunity to tour and learn about the Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech Bloomington.

Additionally, two nationally known keynote co-presenters will present the Effectuation Process with direct application toward launching the Entrepreneurship Certificates across the College (state-wide).  This is an direct example of a community college using the Effectuation process for  implementing a new program. The co-presenters will thread Effectuation throughout the event as applicable. Twenty-eight faculty (including entrepreneurship/business faculty and faculty in other disciplines) are expected to participate. I look forward to reporting success stories from the Summit!


Tags:  Ivy Tech Summit 

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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

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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Insights from the US Fab Lab Network Symposium

Posted By Karen-Michelle Mirko, Wednesday, March 25, 2015

NACCE is delighted to be collaborating with the US Fab Lab Network.

Creating Fab Labs and Makerspacers is a top need for our members. I am on the ground this week at their symposium in the gorgeous Gateway Technical College SC Johnson iMET Center.  It has been an educational, resource rich symposium.

Most of the participants here are NACCE members. I can tell. Everyone is happy to share best practices, fails and are willing to problem solve with the participants that are just starting to launch. And continue the conversation after along day at an impromptu dinner. 

 These are some of the ideas that I have heard. Remember I am a Tweeter, and truck in bullet points. The US Fab Lab Network has been videoing the sessions. I will include links when they decide what they will share publicly.

Pre-Conference Workshop

Fab Lab & Maker Space start-up and implementation


James Carlson of School Factory - Way cool dude. 

Gives an overview of 8 types of Maker Space

  • 1.       1.Project Collaboration
  • 2.       Hackerspace
  • 3.       Open Democracy
  • 4.       Makerspace
  • 5.       Citizen Science
  • 6.       Co-working
  • 7.       Community kitchen
  • 8.       Artist Collaborative

 Need to a How to Start Kit? Check out the School Factory’s check lists


Tips for Starting a FabLab


  • Greg Herker, Gateway Technical College 
  • Matthew Wade, Patrick Henry Community College
  • Hugh Schuett, Metropolitan Community College
  • David Richardson, USFLN
  • James Carlson, School Factory


Discovery [Research & Interest Generation]

  •        Read the books and blogs that are out there
  •        Talk to your network and the Fab Lab Network
  •        Get buy-in from your executive
  •        Generate interest on campus with your colleagues, your students, your community  and your industry
  •    Let them use the equipment
  •    Bring in FabLab items – gears
  •    Bring in different kinds of people – let artisans show engineers what the equipment can do

Formation [Planning, Justification, Commitment]

  •        In planning, bring in every stakeholder, decide which equipment makes most sense for your community
  •        No one plan will fit your community. You need to know your community and their needs.
  •        Justification can be helped by engaging students, industry and potential students
  •        Commitment was easier when new buildings were added. A new FabLab was a natural fit.
  •        Generate commitment by offering FabLab as a SOLUTION. I see your engineering program is need to students. Have you thought of a FabLab? Do not sell it as a hot trend or a pet project.
  •        Utilize existing space to pilot MakerSpace. Test the concept.
  •        Need seed money? Think about going to Economic Development Corporation and tell them we want to diversify our economy and grow start ups.


Preparation [Installation, Training]

  • When installing, partner with your IT department. Every piece of equipment uses software. Some of it is expensive. See if there is site license on class.
  • When installing, focus on safety.
  • When installing, know your potential audience – HS, Kindergarten or adults. Or all 3?
  • When training, remind people they can fail. Not everything will be perfect.
  • FabLabs recommends to learn software
  • When training, have a process to onboard volunteers. Most Makerspaces are volunteers.


Activation [Implementation]

  • Opening Day – Get a PR Team. Use media to create a buzz.
  • Have a soft launch to test out the kinks then have a public opening.
  • Iterate, iterate, iterate.
  • Develop a portfolio of offerings for the collaboration space
  • Implement governance and value tracking
  • Add cameras above the machine turns the machines into the project. {RaspberryPi + webcam= CheapCam}
  • Become the GoTo Place in your City. Help them know what those way are. “Here are 20 Ways to Use your Makerspace.”
  • Have a script for your tours.  What do they see? What do they touch? What questions do they think about?


Forevermore [Enhancement, Maintenance, Sustainability]

  • For enhancements, add work stations so the folks aren’t too crowded. Add equipment if you can AND there is a demand.
  • Add storage space – extra wood, projects in process.
  • Reach out to new audiences – universities, home schoolers.
  • Keep MARKETING! Get in front of everyone. Make a video. Use video conferencing.
  • Advertising is not enough, how do you get them in there?
  • Listen to users. They have the best ideas.
  • Buy the latest. Your students will then be current and more employable.


Maintenance – Plan for ongoing expenses plus service calls, supplies.

  • Build a team of volunteers – faculty, community partners – to maintain and diversify program offerings.
  • How? Invite them to attend a course. Offer to fabricate a product that they need for there work. Offer the space for them to run their class.
  • Sustainability – Act like a business. Think through who is not in your space. Why?
  • Keep the energy high. Cycle in new advisors, board, members.

Mel Cossette, National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education and T.E.A.M.

Partner with industry. Take your courses and cross walk against employers’ needs.

Using Additive Manufacturing to Support Economic Develop & Entrepreneurship

Tom Crampton, Mott Community College

  • 1.       Engage StartUp - Help them develop prototypes.  Charge fee.
  • 2.       Engage existing businesses in their new product development
  • 3.       Engage existing businesses to improve existing businesses


And then an awesome dinner with 20 Movers and Shakers in the Fab Lab scene.

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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 Kaskaskia College _, 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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