Apply Design Thinking to Inspire Future Entrepreneurs
by Mary Crean, Adjunct Professor, Goodwin University
When we, as educators, place empathy at the center of teaching students, innovative sparks fly. Students strive harder to achieve success when you provide them with learning opportunities that demonstrate cognitive, emotional, and compassionate empathy.
Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to better understand the end user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems in order to uncover alternative strategies and solutions that might not be initially apparent.
Design Thinking revolves around a deep interest to understand the people for whom we’re designing products or services. It helps us observe and develop empathy with users. This process helps us with questioning the problem, the assumptions, and the implications.
It’s been my experience that when we teach with a desire to deeply understand students’ needs and empathize with their learning journey, we’ll have success in inspiring them to be more comfortable with uncertainty, to challenge status quo thinking, to find out-of-the box solutions, and to operate with an entrepreneurial mindset.
Meeting people where they are and practicing empathy are not only great strategies for teaching marketing, but also important guideposts to helping students understand the importance of connecting with consumers.
Applying Design Thinking to Goodwin University’s Entrepreneurial Network (ENet), a small business start-up certificate program for currently and formerly incarcerated individuals provided me with insight to help students discover business solutions that they did not think were possible. In our 7.5 week marketing course, I witnessed students improve their critical thinking skills, creativity, curiosity, and confidence.
Try applying Design Thinking to teaching or to managing a team at work, and you too will see innovative sparks fly.
Mary F. Crean is an adjunct professor and advisory board member in Business Administration at Goodwin University’s School of Business, Technology, and Advanced Manufacturing as well as the Direct to Consumer Marketing Director for Nassau Financial Group. Mary’s professional journey includes experience as a health and fitness entrepreneur and a nonprofit executive leader, helping people from marginalized communities work toward upward mobility. Her love of solving marketing problems through modern technology led her to join the team at Nassau Financial Group. Mary serves as chair of the 224 Ecospace, a premier arts, health, and wellness social enterprise in Hartford, Connecticut, where change-makers work, create, and lead. She holds a BS in Nutrition from the University of Saint Joseph and an MBA from Post University.