While we may not all choose to be entrepreneurs upon graduation, earning a certificate from the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship can still be very valuable for your career. From general lessons learned to specific theories and principles, the knowledge and insight you receive can be applied on the first day at your new job.
Zach Schaefer, MBA 2014, is a Marketing Strategist in 3M’s Integrated Marketing Development Program. Many of Zach’s projects are focused on market assessment, market sizing and go-to-market strategies. In his short time with the company, he has been able to utilize many of the skills that he learned during the MBA Wisconsin Fellowship in Enterprise Development program and classes taken as part of the certificate in entrepreneurship.
A key outcome of this knowledge during his time with the Weinert Center was how to use the strategic business model and value proposition canvas popularized by Alexander Osterwalder and taught in a few of Zach’s classes. Having the experience of going through the canvas in the Weinert Applied Ventures in Entrepreneurship (WAVE) practicum was very powerful in helping Zach to think like a lean startup at 3M.
A few years ago, employees were exposed to the canvas and it’s nine blocks but never really knew what to do with them and would say “now what?” This led to many bad experiences and feelings of it not having much value. To overcome this skepticism, Zach built tools for strategyzer that would be useful and would show their value from the start. 3M used strategyzer principles as stage gate review and to model go-to-market strategies but Zach was able to make an Excel spreadsheet that models price elasticity using the canvas.
The combination of these tools and leading small groups to explain the tools has led to some adoption for strategyzer within 3M. In 2015, 3M acquired the Separations Media business of Polymore International. Using the canvas, they were able to compare 3M’s long-term business model to that of the newly acquired companies and blended them in order to see where there was commonality. They were then able to find areas of overlap where their long-term strategies aligned. This is just one example of a great use for strategyzer and the canvas.
Something that Zach found eye opening was that a few decades ago 3M was already using lean startup principles, just not by name. They were doing small product launches in test markets, reformulating the products with the information that they learned and releasing the newly formulated product on a wider scale. How ironic that this was something 3M, as well as other companies, were doing years ago even though most people think it is a recent concept from Eric Ries’ book.
As Zach points out, keep all of this in mind when you go on to work for a company in the future. There will be many opportunities for you to use the entrepreneurial knowledge that you receive from your Weinert Center classes. You just have to seek the opportunities out and potentially work to help certain principles be accepted by a company’s culture.