Lean Startup for Social Impact
Strategies for New and Established Businesses to Change the World
Co-authors: Karen Lee, Wander Meijer, Catus Lee, Ivy Lau, Marcus Lim
Do people really benefit from online courses?
In the last Blog (#8), we introduced an online course on Lean Startup offered by Acumen, which is by far the most well designed and practical course on the subject for the benefit of social purpose startups.
I wonder if any of you has taken the course. If you did, I would love to hear from you on how you find it. My bet is that NONE of you have taken it. Please let me know if I am wrong.
If you have not taken the course, I guess it is because:
- You are not familiar with online courses and do not think that you would benefit from it
- Taking an online course could be a very solitary thing; it takes a lot of dedication and discipline to follow it through
- When there is no face to face interaction, it is difficult to sustain interest to learn
- You are too busy
This brings out a major issue about the value of online courses. From my limited knowledge, most institutions offering online courses are trying hard to add an interactive element to the program. It will work better if there is a live tutor assigned to each participant so that questions could be raised and discussed.
But the challenges for providing tutors (or coaches) for a Lean Startup courses are quite formidable.
Even if all the technical questions are taken care of, it is not easy to find enough suitably qualified tutors for the purpose. It takes someone with substantial Lean Startup training and coaching experience to act as effective tutors. And these people are in very short supply, if they exist at all.
But the most substantive difficulty is that Lean Startup coaching could hardly be done over long distance. There needs to be constant interaction in order to provide effective coaching.
Does it mean that we could not harness the online technology to providing training and coaching on Lean Startup?
Readers’ views and suggestions on this vital topic are welcome.
Acumen visiting Hong Kong in November
By sheer coincidence, in the same week that my last Blog was released I learnt that someone from Acumen will be coming to Hong Kong in November this year to explore how they could contribute to developing social entrepreneurship in this part of the world. I sent him the Blog and he was flattered that the Acumen course was given so much prominence in it.
I look forward to meeting him in person and explore with him how the Lean Startup program could be popularized here.
Below are some initial thoughts:
- It might be possible for Acumen to work with some local organizations to launch a Train-the-Trainer or Coach-the-Coach program so that a critical mass of trainers and/or coaches could be developed to leverage the online Lean Startup course to enhance the chances of success of social purpose startups.
- It might be possible for some local organizations to partner with Acumen to offer the online Lean Startup course by providing the face to face component.
- “Begin with the end in mind.” Acumen might be interested in coming up with a vision of how the social ecology of social purpose startups in this part of the world could be transformed, and identify some milestones for its realization.
- Acumen might be interested in investing into some of the startups that its programs contribute to creating? Or more generally, Acumen might be interested in changing the way we tackle poverty, inequality and environmental challenges by investing in companies, people and ideas in this part of the world.
If you have other suggestions, please let me know.
And if your organization would like to have a conversation with Acumen during their Asia visit in November this year, you are welcome to contact me to see if anything could be arranged.