Developing an entrepreneurial mindset through the training of a design attitude

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Developing an entrepreneurial mindset through the training of a design attitude Questions we care about What if ‘an entrepreneurial mindset’ involves a too limited focus on value creation in a business context? and What if students need a broader focus and understanding of value- and meaning creation in their lives as such? - How could we then train such a ‘new’ ‘life- and work-mindset’ in an educational setting? In entrepreneurship education there is an increasing focus on entrepreneurship as a mindset (Blenker et al., 2011, Solesvik et all. 2013, Daniel, 2016, Davey, 2016). Additionally, the definition of ‘an entrepreneurial mindset’ and ‘employability’ seems to be growing from a strict focus on creating value in a business context into creating value in life eg. in a focus on ‘life-long learning’ (Cole & Tibby,2013) ‘creating quality in life’ (OECD, 2018, Burnett & Evans 2016, Birsel,2015). Likewise, Harvey (2003) argues about the development of the notion ‘employability’: “emphasis is now less on “employ” and more on “ability”. This change meet with the needs among young people, that have challenges with stress, anxiety and bad mental health issues that need to be addressed. Professor in youth, Katznelson (2018) argues, young people need ‘tools for life’s maze’. One way of building this ability, mindset or ‘tools for life’s maze’ could be through design. Design is here seen as ‘an approach’, ‘an attitude’ or mindset rather than a method or process. In the entrepreneurship literature design is getting a growing interest. Daniel (2016) introduced a design methodology, which is adapted from the design thinking process and emphasizes empathy, integrative thinking, experimentalism and collaboration (Daniel, 2016) Nielsen & Storvang,2015) have introduced ‘a design mindset’ in entrepreneurship with the ‘DesUni Model’ for entrepreneurial education in universities. In the field of design research and -practise, we see a new emerging field on how to use design in life. This approach represents a more holistic way of seeing life ‘as a whole’ instead of focusing on training students to create a job or a business. Here ‘design’ is also seen as ‘an approach’. In this paper we want to introduce our students to elements of the ‘life design attitude’, which is a work-in-progress framework (Sørensen,2019). The Life Design Attitude works together with ‘The 4-foci model’, which includes: an inner focus, an outer, business foci, an outer world focus and an other, people focus. The 4-foci model helps people train a broader focus, balance different foci and train flexible thinking. Additionally, The Life Design Attitude accentuates the different activities or approaches that relate to future skills and competences, like ‘approaching complexity’. In this course the students will primarily be trained in activities that relate the inner- and outer, business focus. Ill. The 4-foci model (Sørensen, 2019) The life design attitude is based on Boland & Collopy (2004) notion ‘a design attitude’. Later, Michlewski(2014) elaborated the notion and defined five characteristics that together formed ‘a design attitude’. Ill:The Life-Design-Attitude (work-in-progress) (Sørensen, 2019) Approach In empirical terms this study draws on a mandatory intensive 6-week entrepreneurship-course for 50 communication bachelor-students. The ‘life-design-attitude’ training was implemented as five individual pedagogical interventions using an educational design research approach (Akker,2006). The basic course structure centers around a team based introductory and exploratory agile business model and lean development track, where teams are given approaches to think agile, progress meaningfully through validated learning and verified market perspectives, and reframe or even in some instances pivot back, if deemed necessary. The affective learning outcomes and perspectives derived from the five interventions, will consequently also take its origin from this team-based entrepreneurial track. The research design intended to assess the interventions from both a learner and didactic perspective. In methodological terms, the design was as follows: A questionnaire was given prior to course start, with the purpose of gaining insights into their itinerary preconceptions and motivations. Half way, prior to the interventions, another questionnaire was given, focusing on their ability to see things from different perspectives, governing own values, and abilities to discover, create and realize opportunity. In the course of two weeks, students where then engaged in five individual and off-school mindset training interventions. A post questionnaire was given, so learners own perspectives on the impact of the interventions could be examined - perspectives also explored in post focus-groups with students. The five training interventions was related to the Life Design Attitude and the 4-foci model. A few examples of assignments: Viewing the world through new lenses, exploring opportunities around you or Reframing your life: Reframe instances, problems, situations, challenges, yourself etc. Results & Implication We still need to get the final results. Yet, we know from another course, that there are some implications. In a questionnaire for approx. 100 students 50%answered training a life design attitude ‘has nothing to do with education’, instead you ‘can go to a coach’, ‘see a doctor’. The other 50%answered that this was a good and relevant idea, as many students feel stress, anxiety and depression. Value/originality In a recent rapport from OECD the organization argues that future educational institutions should not only focus on students creating a job, but also focus on students’ ability in creating ‘quality in life’ (OECD,2018). Yet, many educational institutions focus on entrepreneurship and value creation in relation to getting a job. This paper argues we need to introduce and train ‘a life design attitude’ that also train young students in ‘tools for life´s maze’ (Katznelson,2019). References: Akker, all. (2006) Educational Design Research. Birsel, A. (2015) Design the Life You Love. Ten Speed Press. Boland & Collopy (2004) Managing as Designing. Stanford Business Books. Burnett, B. & Evans, D. (2016) Designing Your Life. How to build a well-lived joyful life. Borzoi Book Published by Alfred A. Knopf. Daniel, A. D. (2016) Fostering an entrepreneurial mindset by using a design thinking approach in entrepreneurship education in Industry and Higher Education 2016, Vol. 30(3) pp.215–223 Davey, T., Hannon, P. and Penaluna, A. (2016) Entrepreneurship education and the role of universities in entrepreneurship: Introduction to the special issue in Industry and Higher Education 2016, Vol. 30(3) pp. 171–182 Davidsen, H. M. & Sørensen, K.B. (2015) Entrepreneurship as a new learning philosophy. Paper presentation at 3E Conference – ECSB Entrepreneurship Education Conference Lüneburg, April 23-24 2015. Goleman, D. & Senge, P. (2014) The Triple Focus – a new approach to education. More Than Sound. Hammershøj, L. G. (2014) Kreativitet – et spørgsmål om dannelse. Hans Reitzels Forlag. Ilonen, S. and Jarna H. (2018) Understanding Affective Learning Outcomes in Entrepreneurship Education Industry and Higher Education 32(6):391–404. Katznelson, N. (2018) Inaugural lecture, Aalborg University 2018, in Altinget, downloaded 25.03.18: Kaufman & Gregoire (2016) Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind. Tarcher Perigee; Reprint edition, December 27, 2016. Löbler, H. (2006) Learning Entrepreneurship from a Constructivist Perspective in Technology Analysis & Strategic Management - TECHNOL ANAL STRATEG MANAGE 18:19–38. Michlewski, K. (2014) Design Attitude. Routledge. Nielsen S.L. & Storvang, P. (2015) DesUni: university entrepreneurship education through design thinking in Education + Training. Vol. 57 Iss 8/9 pp. 977-991. Solesvik et all. (2013) Entrepreneurial assets and mindsets Benefit from university entrepreneurship education investment in Education + Training Vol. 55 No. 8/9, 2013 pp.748-762 Sørensen, K. B. (2011) When Designing Emerges into Strategies – in an organization and in individuals. Ph.D. Thesis. Kolding School of Design. Denmark. Sørensen, K. B. & Evers, W. (2015) The role of doing and making models with materials: Outlining “designerly & human-centered entrepreneurship” Eksig 2015 ”Tangible Means: Experiential Knowledge Through Materials” Kolding. Nov. 25 & 26, 2015. Sørensen, K. B. & Davidsen, H. M. (2017) A Holistic Design Perspective on Entrepreneurship Education, in Universal Journal of Educational Research 5(10): 1818-1826, 2017 Sørensen, K. B. (2019) Journalism Students Prototyping a Brighter Future. Proceedings Cumulus 2019: Resilience and Intelligence, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland pp. OECD, 2018: The Future of Education and Skills, Education 2030. Retrieved 05.12.19
Publikationsdato13 dec. 2019
StatusAccepteret/In press - 13 dec. 2019
Begivenhed3E -ECSB Entrepreneurship Education Conference, Tronheim, Norweig: Developing entrepreneurial mindsets through education - NTNU Business School, Tronheim, Norge
Varighed: 13 maj 202015 maj 2020


Konference3E -ECSB Entrepreneurship Education Conference, Tronheim, Norweig
LokationNTNU Business School


  • Uddannelse, professioner og erhverv
  • creativity
  • design attitude
  • entrepreneurship education


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