The purpose of this practitioner paper is to explore whether the principles of Design Thinking and the Lean Startup could be employed in developing a disruptive model for delivering educational programs within higher education in a way that attempts to eliminate the multitude of problems facing this industry, while simultaneously adhering to the principles of frugal innovation and meeting relevant sustainability goals.
The authors followed a design thinking approach, employing tools such as empathy mapping, customer journey, value proposition and semi-structured interviews to obtain a deep level of understanding of the problems educators and students within the context of entrepreneurship education are facing. Throughout the process they drew on the practice of emergent inquiry and customer co-creation to help guide decision making.
The authors successfully derived a conceptual solution in the form of a Minimum Viable Product of which the features were tested against the multitude of user needs and requirements. It was possible to demonstrate how the solution meets all nine of the requirements for frugal innovations while simultaneously adhering to applicable sustainability principles.
The proposed solution offers a potential opportunity to first-movers in chosen academic disciplines to become leaders in online education. Originality/value: Even in an industry such as higher education there is a dire need for frugality and finding sustainable solutions for educators and students in both developed and developing markets. With this paper the authors succeed in presenting innovative combinations of digital artefacts, platforms and infrastructure to arrive at a novel crowd-sourced solution that is unique in its design.