Lean Startup Principles for Social Impact

Lean Startup Principles for Social Impact is a 4-week course inspired by the Lean Launchpad Class pioneered by Steve Blank. In this course you will learn how to test, validate, and adapt your vision of change to ensure you’re creating the greatest impact and investing your time in something that truly meets the needs of your customers and stakeholders.  This course is appropriate for anyone who wants to try out lean methodologies to start a new enterprise or build a new program or initiative within an existing organization. The lean approach relies on validated learning, experimentation, and iterative product releases to shorten product development cycles, measure progress, and gain valuable customer feedback. In an environment where the majority of startups fail, lean principles aim to give startups a better chance of success by helping entrepreneurs learn more quickly what works and discard what doesn’t. This course draws on the latest thinking in Silicon Valley, but adapts it for the social sector.  We’ll showcase examples of social enterprises and organizations that have successfully run experiments, pivoted, and remained lean and innovative while ethically serving their customers and prioritizing social impact. These principles aren’t just for high tech startups but tools for any innovator, especially those determined to solve the world’s toughest social problems.

You'll Love This Course If

  • You’re an aspiring or very early stage social entrepreneur/founding team member that is building an impact enterprise to tackle a specific issue of poverty in your local community
  • You’re looking to learn the lean mindset to drive a social change initiative in a larger organization (For example, you could be an employee within an established business, public sector organization or non-profit)
  • You just completed the Human-Centered Design for Social Innovation course and are ready to take your project to the next level

What you'll learn

By the conclusion of this course you will:

  • Practice the build-measure-learn approach that characterizes lean methodology
  • Have a clear understanding of your value proposition
  • Test your hypotheses with some of your key customers and developed a minimum viable product
  • Run an experiment & decided whether to pivot or persevere with your idea
  • Develop a “lean mindset” for tackling problems of poverty that can be applied to other settings in the corporate, public, and NGO sectors

How this course works

This is a practical but intensive class where you will learn by doing. In this course you will:

  • Be exposed to the lean methodology
  • Work in teams learning how to take your idea and assess its value proposition

We recommend you form a team of 3-4 people, preferably located in the same place.

The Teaching Team

Chief Instructor

Sasha Dichter, Chief Innovation Officer, Acumen

Sasha is responsible for growing the impact of Acumen’s work through itsBio2013-SDichter3-160x160 investments in leaders and also oversees Acumen’s leadership programs: Global Fellows, Regional Fellows, and +Acumen; Acumen’s metrics and understanding impact; as well as resource mobilization from Acumen’s global Partner community. Sasha is also a noted speaker and blogger on generosity, philanthropy and social change, author of the Manifesto for Nonprofit CEOs, and the creator of Generosity Day. His talks have been featured on TED.com and at the DO Lectures. Sasha has been recognized as an Innovation Agent by Fast Company and as one of the top 10 Business Bloggers by Say 100 Media.

Before Acumen, Sasha worked at GE Money to expand financial offerings to underserved communities; and at IBM, spearheading the company’s corporate citizenship strategy and launching a leadership program for school administrators Sasha holds a BA from Harvard College, a Masters in Public Administration in International Development from Harvard’s Kennedy School and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will a certificate be awarded upon completion of the course?

We will provide a Statement of Accomplishment for individuals that complete all requirements.

If I take this course in a group, do my group members need to be in the same location?

We recommend signing up with a group that is all physically located in the same place. Much of the value of this course derives from the in-person, peer-to-peer learning that happens between group members. With that said, we have had groups cover many of the group discussions over Skype or Google+ hangouts so it is possible to have a remote group.

Remember, all members of your group need to individually register for this course.

What is the ideal size for my group?

We generally recommend a group of 2 to 5 individuals. If your group is too big, it can be more difficult to coordinate schedules and conduct group sessions together for all of the modules.

How much does it cost to take this course?

All +Acumen courses are free.

Are there any prerequisites for taking this course?

This is an introductory course and there are no prerequisites, although we recommend that you take the Social Entrepreneurship 101 course before starting.

What are the technical requirements?

This course will be provided by a platform called NovoEd. Please review NovoEd Technical Requirements and Browser Compatibility’. They have additional information on Mobile Compability and Low-Bandwidth Support.

You need a computer that allows you to watch videos through this platform, download our course materials (PDF reading) and the ability to upload your assignments.

More questions?

Please contact courses@plusacumen.org

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  • Sabrina Natasha Premji

    Kenya | ‘Lean for Social Change’

    We left the Lean for Social Change course with a refined business model and confirmation that we were really onto a viable social business. So much so, that we decided to leave our jobs and work on Kidogo full-time, with the goal of unlocking the potential and changing the trajectories of…

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