Plans, Planning, Thanksgiving

menuI teach a two-semester sequence on arts entrepreneurship for undergraduates. The first semester is delivered in an online format and introduces students to theories of entrepreneurship as well as tools arts entrepreneurs. Students are also introduced to business planning tools such as the business model canvas and the traditional business plan. For the latter, I use SCORE’s business planning guide for nonprofits (although many of my students are developing a for-profit enterprise or creative practice). In an online discussion, students were asked to comment on the advantages and disadvantages of planning. All noted that the advantages of planning outweighed the disadvantages but many commented that planning can lead to inflexible thinking in a situation where flexibility and nimbleness are important, that is, the launch of a new business. Because the traditional business plan is a formidable document requiring significant research, writing, and documentation, one runs the risk of getting into a mindset of completion before the business is even launched! In an earlier module on entrepreneurial process, they had been introduced to the “Business Model Canvas.” The Business Model Canvas is an alternative to a traditional business plan for enterprises in early stage development. It is a tool designed to keep the enterprise flexible and nimble: hypotheses are generated and tested in an iterative process leading to the launch of a “minimum viable product.”

This discussion took place during Thanksgiving week. To what degree is Thanksgiving planning an iterative process and how much is derived from a “Menu – done!” mindset. I have been planning and cooking Thanksgiving dinners for 25 years, often two in one year (family feast on Thursday, friends’ open house on Sunday). This year is an iteration, as half the family is now vegetarian. I am using a recipe I’ve “tested” before as a “minimum viable product” in the open house format as the vegetarian main course for the family feast, and making use of the “key partners” concept that is part of the business model generation process by asking a family member to make the turkey offsite and bring it to the dinner. The “value proposition” is based on all cooking and baking being done from scratch, using fresh ingredients, including the two secret ingredients I wish for you all to have at your Thanksgiving Feast: GRATITUDE and LOVE!


About lindaessig

Linda Essig is Dean of the College of Arts & Letters at Cal State LA and principal/owner of Creative Infrastructure LLC. The opinions expressed on creativeinfrastructure are her own and not those of Cal State LA. You can follow her on twitter @LindaInPhoenix.
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