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EDP+ Innovating On How We Teach Entrepreneurship and Grow the Community

For well over 20 years, the MIT Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP) has been the largest and most highly rated Executive Education program offered by MIT Sloan. Think about that for a second as it is quite an achievement. “Executives” are usually looking to take courses to help them become better leaders in big corporations and what we teach in EDP is entrepreneurship!  And among all the excellent courses taught by fabulous MIT professors in MIT Sloan Executive Education’s portfolio, our humble EDP ranks the highest.

But success always has an expiration date on it. Like our friend Alberto Rodriguez de Lama of The Cube in Spain and a member of the EDP community likes to say, “Always in beta, always improving.” So this year we made some significant changes to experiment with new ideas. We kept the good we know works and made the following changes for what we called “EDP+”:

  1. Timing:  Since its inception, EDP has run in January. We joke we do this to keep the participants focused and make sure we only get the most serious people in the program. After all, it can be really cold in January in Boston. The real reason is this is the window in our academic calendar where the program fits best. EDP is a fully-immersive environment that requires a full-time dedicated core faculty team for a full week. This year, the innovation in #2 below allowed us to run the program the first week of June for the first time ever. Yes, there were more distractions (Red Sox games, concerts, Celtics games, just going outside in the gorgeous weather, etc.), but it still worked out really well. Because it was early in the summer, we were also able to get key faculty to participate as well.
  2. Integration with MIT Students: For the first time I believe in any MIT Exec Ed program, the participants were in the same classroom and sharing breaks with MIT students who were learning and applying the same content. These were not just any students either; these were the best, the brightest, and the most committed entrepreneurial students at MIT, the delta v summer accelerator teams. While this sounds great, there were some risks with this plan. First, it has never been done before, but that does not scare us as entrepreneurs. Second, they were at different starting points. The EDP participants were starting from nothing with no idea, no team, and little to no knowledge of the Disciplined Entrepreneurship process. The delta v teams had all of these things and momentum coming into the week. Third, there was a significant age and experience gap between the two groups.
  3. Even More New Content than Usual: Every year, we look to enhance our content and integrate new materials, but this time, we did this in two critical areas. The first was to integrate the strategy, frameworks, and tactics that entrepreneurs should consider as they develop their “Go-To-Market” plans taken from our new course at MIT. The second was to integrate into EDP key material from another new course, Paul Cheek’s “Venture Creation Tactics”. While this was material that has been tested during the school year, it was extremely leading edge, very actionable, and went beyond the traditional 24 Step Disciplined Entrepreneurship framework. It was more new material than we would traditionally integrate, but we felt it was important to equip the participants with the latest in the field.

Because of these changes above, we positioned this version of EDP as a new experiment, as “EDP+,” and charged ahead to run it while anxious to see the results. As anyone who has attended EDP can attest, this course is like no other program. After 6 days of fully-immersive entrepreneurship sprinting by Friday, everyone is exhausted, including the staff. I am pleased to say that while everything did not go perfectly (perfect only exists in comic books), at our team debriefing on Friday afternoon we were *very* pleased with how it all went.

Most importantly, the EDP participants and the delta v teams really enjoyed and got extraordinary value out of the program. Here are a few of the posts (I am sure I have missed a lot, but please add the missing ones in the comments):

  1. “10 Things I Learned in EDP+” from the Tie Guy
  2. “Great Artists Ship”
  3. “Life-Changing Experience”
  4. “Mind-Blowing What You Can Achieve in a Week”
  5. “Yes You Can”
  6. “Started the week as an explorer and ended as a believer that, taking an idea and commercializing it, is a craft that can be taught.“
  7. “My Cliff Notes from EDP+

Anyone who has taken EDP is part of the EDP community and will never forget the experience. Know you are part of a special collective. One of the questions we get most often about the program is can we run it twice a year, and until now the answer has been “Heck No!” However, with these latest modifications, maybe we can and expand our community. That would be wonderful.

Special shout-outs to the MIT Executive Education team, especially Ann Marie Maxwell and Peter Hirst for believing this was possible. Also to the Northern Ireland Catalyst program led by John Knapton and Adele Ward for believing in us and bringing your great entrepreneurs over for this experiment. Also to Jennifer Craw, CEO of Opportunity North East (ONE), and Freda Miller of Scottish Enterprise who kept our long-term (10+ years) relationship with Scotland rolling and also brought a wonderful cohort of entrepreneurs to give us a great core to start the class with. And all the rest of the colorful cast of characters from all parts of the world and all walks of life who made the room so vibrant this past week. Hopefully, every single one of you is feeling more antifragile and knows: (1) Yes you are an entrepreneur; (2) Yes you can continually get better at it; and (3) Yes you are now a damn good entrepreneur with your training and you can lead a more meaningful life and put a positive dent in the universe.

Huge thanks to all the instructors and guest speakers, judges, mentors, and others who we had come in including the great Catherine TuckerAdam BlakeMatthew Rhodes-Kropf, and David Frankel (and his mother). And of course to my co-lead for this course, the fabulous Paul Cheek.

Lastly, enormous thanks to the Trust Center team who helped pull off this intense one-week-long doubleheader – EDP+ and delta v kickoff. The center is nothing without the people who make it all happen. Here is to you!

Onward and upward and if you want more info on EDP, follow the link at the beginning of this post.

Finally, remember, while we joke around and have fun in EDP, what we are doing is so important. While we should not take ourselves very seriously, we must take the bigger mission very seriously. The world desperately needs more entrepreneurs, high-quality entrepreneurs, and better-connected entrepreneurs. Keep your eyes on the prize.

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