While the manuscript for our new textbook in Technology Entrepreneurship is with the proof-readers, I have spent this semester testing the book as curriculum in my New Venture Creation course at BI Norwegian Business School. Having written it with tecnology students in mind, I was curious how it would work with business school students. It seems to be working very well.
In our book we relate to what I call the “iterative turn” in entrepreneurship theory and practice. This means that the Business Plan should no longer be the central artefact for learning entrepreneurship. Long term planning clearly has limitations when it comes to starting new ventures, as well as with innovation projects in general. To many practitioners and scholars this comes as no surprise. Still, around 80-90% of entrepreurship textbooks (and entrepreneurship courses, I would guess) still are organized around how to write a business plan!
We have not gone as far as Steve Blank, who has proclaimed the death of the business plan. Rather, we acknowledge that such a strongly institutionalised practice will remain important for certain purposes for some time. However, we do encourage a continuous learning (or: iterative) orientation for learning and practicing entrepreneurship. In line with Sarasvathy, Blank, Ries, McGrath and many others, we suggest to utilize iterative methodologies to boost learning in practice: the basic thinking of business modelling, lean start-ups, discovery-driven growth, effectuation, and more, is this: The uncertainty and complexity of starting new ventures (and innovating in general) requires the entrepreneur to design the process for continuous learning. Making smart failures, challenging own assumptions, testing and adjusting customer value with customers early, developing strong alliances to resource and create markets for the venture, etc.
We have also done what an academic textbook in entrepreneurship should do: put the phenomenon in context and seek to stimulate critical reflection regarding its conditions. Our context is mainly European. Innovation policies, competence, industrial practices, IP legislation, market conditions, etc all are somewhat different from the US. And, we seek to use as many European business cases as possible. For the first time in my ten-year history as an entrepreneurship lecturer, I now have an updated entrepreneurship/new venture creation textbook relevant to the context of the majority of my students. Feels good.
The textbook will be available in-store in December this year.