Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sometimes, virtue DOES triumph?

I Was Wrong: Sometimes, virtue DOES triumph?

A string of good news items to share – with more to come! (The bad news being that I might be blogging more?)

Maybe THE single best tech commercialization program I have ever seen just got $26 million to grow.

True experiential learning
+ the right deep engagement with the entrepreneurial community  
+ exactly the right people running the show
= the most productive program for bringing local ideas into profitable reality.

I’d be happy to go into more detail on what they do, just ask!

The not-really-secret sauce is in that formula above –and that’s why it is so hard to replicate. Most programs claim to be “deeply experiential” and focusing on growing the “entrepreneurial mindset” and might even believe it . But they don’t. They rarely have the right processes and having the right people is even rarer. (And it is very, very difficult to replace the wrong people in bureaucratic entities, eh?) 

Time to defrag... Idaho?
The Idaho Tech Council Energy Connected symposium is next week – should be fun. Lots of energy-related mad science stuff and it appears that the ITC Marketing Committee did persuade TPTB that Ignite/pecha kucha 5 minute presentations are a good thing!
Except that they foolishly accepted my proposal? "Growing Defragging Idaho's Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in 1, 2, 3, 4 Easy Steps?"
                         See my slides at

If you are an Idahoan… are you interested in a major defragging of Idaho’s ecosystem? Inquire at norris.krueger[at]

National/Global Good News?

Ecosystems! April 30 = the very first Global Summit on Entrepreneurial Ecosystems hosted by US SourceLink and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. I am deeply involved and what fun! Strong practitioner focus but THE leading thought leaders are being invited. Apparently, they see me as THE guy at that intersection. Humbling. Energizing but humbling. (and, no, they declined my idea to hold it in Idaho, lol)
        [ For Idahoans – every one of these experts is on record as wanting to help us. ]

no good deed goes unpunished?…
I am now an officer of the Academy of Management Entrepreneurship Division – working with the Communications team to help build some sort of portal to collect and curate resources so members can better help their local entrepreneurial communities.  (Probably first up will be around ecosystems. Soon after, best practices at improving entrepreneurial education[1]

Promoting cross-state collaboration?
However, this has opened a door to getting financial and political support to bring together, for example, the top 10 scholars on entrepreneurship/innovation in an area like the Intermountain West! If it includes mostly EPSCoR[2] states there is even more money.
Imagine the 10 thought leaders from ID, WY, MT, and UT (well, mostly Utah , lol) getting together to identify projects that matter for research AND practice AND education…
   AND imagine it being held in Idaho! 

Tech commercialization?
Looping back to my buddies at Chalmers, there is also national (if not global) interest in bringing together the very best programs. The top programs ALL resemble Chalmers far more than even the better entrepreneurship programs. (They also resemble the best non-academic programs like TechStars, Startup Weekend, etc.) This too could get held in Idaho.

Certainly, not a bad set of news to get? I am happy to share the bad news – psycho politics and bureaucratic stupidity never sleep, alas…

But I need to make 2015 a year of deep renewal for me. 

Will YOU help? 

At least by lighting fires under me?

[1] that one is easy: “Go get a degree in education.” But unlikely to be popular? ;)
[2] EPSCoR is a program that routes funding, etc. to the R&D “have-not” states like ID, MT, WY…

Friday, February 06, 2015



But that's how we learn. That's how we get truly better.
... people who are never wrong [just ask them ;) ]... scare me.)

From now on every blog post will include my latest numbskullery. 
Let's start with... I was wrong to not post more often. And not a traditional web page? I really need your thoughts on that.

but occasionally... I am right! ;)

My latest trip was over to the U of Minnesota for the midwinter board meeting of the Academy of Management's Entrepreneurship Division. Time to plan for the year ahead such as the giant conference in August in Vancouver (~15,000 of my closest friends? Yikes!)
I'm excited for the conference - more on that later...

But, Norris, weren't you going to tell us where are you RIGHT?

OK, take a few minutes and read this. Look closely at the figures. (I'll wait.) the 96% of university officials think they are doing a good job of preparing students for the real world, only 11% of businesses. Oops. When Gallup Education's Brandon Busteed shared that in Boise this week, the gasps were audible.

What matters to keep students engaged AND productively learning AND ready for the future is... getting to achieve in projects that matter, real world, team-oriented, etc. Whether K-12 or college... that's what moves the needle. I was right about that! ;)

And what does that better than anything? 
The best entrepreneurship programs: Personally-relevant, practically valuable problem-based learning. 
Not quizzes, homework, multiple-choice tests, or even in-class lectures. My best colleagues are doing that - and in November the OECD assembled 26 incredible K-12 programs. If this approach works with 3rd graders.... Just wow.

Conclusion #1: We need youth entrepreneurship programs broad & deep in our schools.
            Caveat #1: This won't work - none of these "engagement" projects work unless it is (a) experiential -- learners need to take away the right lessons, so (b) you need actual educators, people who are trained in how people really learn [see, I came back!] and how to make that work. IOW, professional educators. Accept no substitutes.
            Way too many entrepreneurship programs, even at good schools, that claim to be experiential… simply are NOT experiential. Hands-on is NOT the same thing. If a program tells you "we are building the entrepreneurial mindset" and we are "experiential"... the odds are... they are NOT. (Read my stuff or watch my video or tell me to blog on that soon.)
            Here's what I did:  - the students won national best practice awards (they won, not me)

Conclusion #2: Demand that programs are designed, developed and delivered by actual expert educators. Demand that students are truly engaged.
            Caveat #2: Administrators don't like these engagement activities; say it's not "teaching" and... ouch. For example, I've had friends do courses that *I* would love to take... and they got penalized by the deans. Seriously? Worse, it goes on everywhere.

If you liked the Gallup study, here are two more riffs on that work. and (And thanks to the ED Sessions for bringing Busteed to town, to the JK Albertson Foundation for backing it...)

BONUS LINK! Add STEM to early childhood ed:

If you are still reading, will you email or message me that you did? A martini or coke awaits at least one of you. :)

And, yes, in my next post I will give you details about my submissions to the Academy of Management...