During a social entrepreneurship class we asked students to form teams (3 to 5 members) and identify a problem on campus or in the community. (We had a handful of problems ready to share if a team needed suggestions). The teams were encouraged to work together to write a problem statement and identify the beneficiaries and stakeholders.
Then we asked them to conduct 10 to 15 "customer discovery" interviews - to better understand the problem. The homework assignment included journal keeping (for reflection and data collection). Each team was asked to present what they learned a week later.
For this class, the goal is not to propose one right answer, but to begin to understand a complex problem and consider many possible solutions. We asked teams:
- Who did you talk to?
- What did you learn?
- What could you do next?
As a result we saw increased civic engagement, improved understanding of complex problems and empathy. Teams connected with the community through a health care center, a homeless shelter and a corporate philanthropic foundation.
We focused on these skills: listening to understand, presenting what they learned, working as a team, and fact-finding.