Schedule for Professional Writing, Spring 2021

Welcome to the schedule for Professional Writing, Spring 2021, an undergraduate course on business writing.

The schedule is divided into four major modules:

1. The Business Model Canvas
The first module involves a three-week introduction to the nine core business elements that constitute the BMC (Business Model Canvas).

2. The Customer Discovery Process, Design Thinking, Venture Design
This six-week module provides you with an opportunity to work as a solo founder or with a startup team to develop a business idea based on the BMC (Business Model Canvas), Customer Discovery, and Venture Design.

3. The Pitch for the State of Florida’s Frank and Ellen Daveler Entrepreneurship Program
This one-week module offers you the opportunity to leverage what you’ve learned about entrepreneurship to pitch for a $3000 fellow or $5000 scholar award.

4. Visual Rhetoric, Information Design, & the Evolution of Professional Writing Conventions in the Modern Workplace
The final module enables you to do a deeper dive into the role of visual language, information design, and visual rhetoric in professional writing.

Module 1
The Business Model Canvas

Welcome. This module introduces you to The Business Model Canvas (BMC), a heuristic used to develop successful businesses. Additionally, you’ll read some of the works and watch some of the videos of leading thought leaders in lean startup, venture design, and design thinking, including, especially Paul Graham, Alex Cowan, and

You’ll begin with familiarizing yourself with The Business Model Canvas (BMC) and how entrepreneurs, engineers, and product managers use the BMC to develop business propositions. You’ll conclude this module in Week 3 with a video pitch to your peers. The purpose of that pitch will be to explain to your peers in the class why your idea is a good one for a future startup.

For this module, you’ll engage in a number of writing assignments, including

  • a discussion post introducing yourself
  • a memo for first-year business students that introduces them to business and entrepreneurial processes, concepts, terms, and research methods
  • a one-minute video pitch written to your peers and instructor in the class that highlights a pitch for a startup
  • an executive summary of your thoughts about a particular problem space and business opportunity.

Week 1, 1/11 to 1/17, The Business Model Canvas (aka BMC)

This week’s readings introduce The BMC (The Business Model Canvas). The BMC is a heuristic tool for creative thinking and analysis.

Source: Strategyzer.Com, https://www.strategyzer.com/

Initially you’ll be asked to demonstrate your understanding of the nine elements of The BMC (Business Model Canvas):

Customer Segments: Who are the customers? What do they think? See? Feel? Do?

Value Propositions: What’s compelling about the proposition? Why do customers buy, use?

Channels: How are these propositions promoted, sold and delivered? Why? Is it working?

Customer Relationships: How do you interact with the customer through their ‘journey’?

Revenue Streams: How does the business earn revenue from the value propositions?

Key Activities: What uniquely strategic things does the business do to deliver its proposition?

Key Resources: What unique strategic assets must the business have to compete?

Key Partnerships: What can the company not do so it can focus on its Key Activities?

Cost Structure: What are the business’ major cost drivers? How are they linked to revenue?”

Source: Alex Cowan, https://www.alexandercowan.com/business-model-canvas-templates/.

The The BMC (Business Model Canvas) was initially conceptualized by Alex Osterwalder as part of his doctoral research on design research at the University of Lausanne. With his dissertation advisor, Yves Pigneu, Osterwalder published Business Model Generation: A Handbook For Visionaries, Game Changers, And Challengers in 2010.

Alex Cowan’s The 20 Minute Business Plan provides a useful introduction to the BMC:

Assignments & Due Dates

  1. By Monday, 1/11/20, 5 p.m.,
    • review the course syllabus, the schedule, and then skim The Writer’s Guide to Writing Commons
    • upload a 250-word discussion post to Canvas, the course management system, that
      1. briefly introduces yourself.
        1. Share your name and one or two sentences about yourself. What’s your major? Why?
        2. Identify your strengths as a communicator, either via written, multimedia, or spoken channels. What sort of skills can you bring to a startup–quantitative skills? software competencies? project management skills? Bring it on. Succinctly.

          Note: This introduction is required; it will be used to record first-day attendance. Failure to complete this introduction will result in your removal from the course. Your instructor will be unable to assist you in terms of getting you back into a course you have been dropped from at the University. This intro will be graded on a completed/not completed basis, so . . . relax!
  2. By Friday, 1/15, 11:59pm
    1. To get the lay of the land, engage in some preliminary research:
      1. Watch How to Design, Test and Build Business Models (2012) to hear Alex Osterwalder’s 2012 introduction of the BMC.
      2. Watch Steve Blank’s The BMC
      3. Skim through Sam Altman’s Startup Playbook.
      4. Engage in a bit of textual research to learn about the BMC and evidence-based entrepreneurship. Ground yourself in scholarly conversations related to the BMC, starting with Alex Osterwalder and Strategyzer: Watch Steve Blank’s presentation on the Value Proposition and the Minimum Viable Product – How to Build a Startup. Be sure to check out a few of Steve Blank’s videos and slides that seem interesting to you.
      5. Listen to a podcast related to entrepreneurship and The BMC; see, e.g.,
        1. Ben Thompson: Thriving in a Digital World
        2. Lesson 2 – Value Proposition Canvas and Value Proposition Types (21:11) – Business Model Canvas
      6. Review Writing with Sources, as needed.
    2. Genre: Informative Memo
      Write a two-page memo to first-year undergraduate students who are not business majors. In this exercise, you are the authority. Your purpose is to explain the BMC so that your audience will learn something about it and business practices. Exactly what you say about the BMC is up to you. Here, you do not need to explain the entire BMC canvas (although you can if you wish). You are welcome to have a welcoming overview and introduction to the concept and then dig into to one aspect of the canvas, such as the Value Proposition.

      You can assume that your audience is unaware of the lean startup, design thinking, venture design. You can assume your audience is not familiar with heuristic tools such as the BMC.

      To help prepare you for this assignnent
Osterwalder (2012). Osterwalder explaining the Business Model Canvas. You Tube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzkdJiax6Tw

University Holiday: 1/18, Martin Luther King Holiday

Let’s all celebrate Dr. King’s disruptive ability to reimagine social justice, social change, and respect and equality of people.

Week 2, 1/18 to 1/24, The Problem Space

Steve Wozniak wanted a computer. Mark Zuckerberg wanted to engage online with his college friends. Larry and Sergey wanted to find things on the web. All these founders were building things they and their peers wanted, and the fact that they were at the leading edge of change meant that more people would want these things in the future.

Paul Graham, Billionaires Build

During Week 2, you’ll use Osterwalder’s BMC Template as a heuristic to develop an idea for a startup, an idea that will hopefully inspire your classmates to join you in your pursuit of a particular business problem and solution. Your ultimate goal is not to successfully launch a run-of-the-mill business like a new consulting agency. Rather, your goal should be to find blue skies–i.e., to be creative and find a new solution to a real customer problem.

That said, your primary goal right now is to identify a real problem for a real customer. Your focus now is on detailing a problem space that you find fascinating. You’ll need to do a bit of strategic searching before you find a topic worth your time. Don’t forget that textual research–i.e., searching for exemplars–is a strategic move early in your venture design process. Your ultimate goal is to find a venture that will be feasible to explore over an eight-week period.

Assignments & Due Dates

  1. By Wednesday, 1/20
    1. Review Alex Cowan’s Need Finding with Problem Scenarios. (Click through the links under his table of contents).
    2. Writing Assignment: Genre: Social Media
      Write an informative discussion post directed to other students in the class. Pulling from all the readings and web surfing you’ve done so far, what are the key learnings, the insights you’ve gained into rhetoric, style, composition, and entrepreneurship? Your goal is to be interesting. You don’t have to summarize all of your thoughts. It’s better to focus on one or two examples and go into details. Tell us something we might not know that pertains to the readings. Link to pages you reference. Use visuals, headings, visual language.
    3. Writing Assignment: Genre: Invention Heuristic
      Develop a BMC for a particular problem space and share the BMC with your classmates via the discussion board. Note: You do not need to purchase an online BMC template. You will receive full credit for this part of the exercise just by handing writing post it notes on a BMC poster board. Later in the semester, once the startups are formed, however, you may want to consider using the 30 day trial at Strategyzer to access their BMC tool.
      1. Either draw your own BMC or download the BMC from a trusted resource on the web:
      2. Write post it notes for the nine BMC elements. Although the post it notes can be hand written, they need to be readable. Alternatively, use memo format and headings for each of the nine BMC elements.
      3. Upload a pic of your BMC to the class discussion board inside Canvas.
  2. By Sunday, 1/24
    1. Watch “Mastering the Problem Space to Achieve Product-Market Fit” by Dan Olsen at Mind The Product SF 2018. (Notice the distinction between solution space and problem space.)
    2. Read How To Write The Best Business Problem Statement
    3. Listen to Sam Altman’s Part 1: The Idea
    4. Writing Assignment: Genre: Problem Definition
      Write a problem definition for the particular problem space that you would like to further explore.
      1. Medium: You are free to write in any medium you wish. If you do this as alphabetical text, limit verbiage to 500 words. If video, 5 minutes. If powerpoint, 7 slides.
      2. Audience: Your audience for the problem definition is your fellow students.
      3. Purpose: Your primary goal is to identify a specific problem for particular users. Ultimately, you want to entice your fellow classmates to join you in exploring this problem more deeply with hopes of identifying a commercially viable value proposition. (That said, service-oriented entrepreneurial projects are also welcome)
      4. Required Content:
        1. Explain the problem from the customer’s perspective:
          1. How does the customer experience the problem as a pain?
          2. Is this an enduring problem, a problem that has been tackled in the past, a better mousetrap? What other services, applications, or products are designed to alleviate or solve this problem?
            1. If so, what evidence do you have that these existing solutions are ineffective? What do you know about this problem space and ways to solve it that other people do not?
          3. Is this a new problem, something that hasn’t been addressed in the past? What are the circumstances that have led to this new problem? s
          4. Add a visual of the TAM (Total Addressable Market) for the problem space. (Speculation is welcome here, but entrepreneurship is built on a foundation of empirical research, so your story will be more compelling if you can cite supporces to support your TAM projection. That said, for now speculations–a best guess is fine.)
        2. Organization: Tell a story about users and their pain, their struggles, and their desires. Frame this story, if possible, in a way that illustrates their pain, the absence/weaknesses of existing solutions.
          • Note: the problem definition does not need to address all aspects of the BMC. Because you are just starting this investigation, ou are not expected to have any solutions nor a plan to conduct customer discovery. You can, however, have hunches, inklings, about potential solutions…

Week 3, 1/25 to 1/31, Executive Summary

This week your focus is on writing an Executive Summary, which in this context is an extremely concise pitch about your business idea. This week builds on the definition of the problem statement you worked on last week. What’s new this week is that you are challenged to speculate about a business thesis and commercial opportunity, For Week 3, your goal is not to pitch a solution. You are not at this point engaged in argument. Instead, at this point in the startup process, you are in discovery mode.

You want to engage in strategic searching on topics of interest to you. Talk to your friends. Do a bit of online surfing. Consider a variety of problem spaces. Ultimately, you want to find an exciting idea, something you’re passionate about. Don’t glob on to the first idea that occurs to you. Watch some Ted Talks. Speak with insightful people you know. Engage in a bit of textual research. Read & listen to the idea. Check out the reddit discussion on startup ideas. Do a search for videos on startup pitches. Listen. Be open to new ideas.

When it comes to choosing a strategic startup idea, consider Paul Graham’s advice:

When you have an idea for a startup, ask yourself: who wants this right now? Who wants this so much that they’ll use it even when it’s a crappy version one made by a two-person startup they’ve never heard of? If you can’t answer that, the idea is probably bad.

Paul Graham, How to Get Startup Ideas

Additionally, because Professional Writing is an undergraduate writing course, you want to look at the course calendar below. You want to be aware of the upcoming deadlines and then use the future writing prompts to define the scope of your startup’s vision.

  1. How practical is your idea given the course calendar?
  2. Will you have access to the necessary customers in order to conduct customer discovery interviews?
Source: 50 Entrepreneurs share priceless advice

Assignments & Due Dates

  1. By Wednesday, 1/27,
    1. continue your preliminary research efforts:
    2. Read and listen to Part 1: The Idea by Alex Cowan. Continue considering cool ideas. This week you don’t need to pitch the same idea you did last week, although you are welcome to do so if you are still working on the same pain point. Engage in strategic searching for incubators such as YCombinator or The Tampa Bay Wave. Look at the companies that have come out of the incubators. Check out Reddit’s forum on startups: r/startups. (Please shoot shoot me an email if you identify if the incubators have upcoming pitch competitions.)
  2. To check out how informal your video can be, check out some Y Combinator application videos; check out this handy tip sheet
  3. use your phone to record a one-minute video (Writing Assignment: Genre: Video Pitch): Upload it to You Tube or some other place convenient to you. Upload the url for your video to Canvas.
  4. Your video can be a remix of last week’s problem definition but hopefully it’s another iteration of that idea. In one minute pitch the problem space you would like to explore. Explain why you think the problem is important. Use concrete and sensory language. Be substantive. Identify the TAM (Total Addressable Market).

By Sunday, 1/31/21,

  1. Write an executive summary in a professional writing style. [Note, this text can use text from last week’s assignment; yet it should be revised and editing.]
  2. Upload your executive summary to Canvas for review by instructor
  3. Upload a copy of your executive summary to gdoc for Professional Writing, Spring 2021 for review by your classmates.

Assignment Guidelines

This document is a summary of your current best thinking about your

  1. Business Thesis
  2. Elevator Pitch
  3. The Problem Definition
  4. The Problem Definition Visualization
  5. The Business Opportunity.

Your purpose is to distill the best of your thinking and research and to express that thinking in as few words as possible.

Medium: You are free to write in any media you wish. If you do this as alphabetical text, limit verbiage to 500 words. Note: even though you’re writing a maximum of 500 words, because of the illustrations your text could be four pages long. If video, 5 minutes. If powerpoint, 7 slides.

Audience: You are writing to other students in the class with the goal of convincing them to join your startup. That said, you actually have multiple other potential audiences for this text: investors, clients, partners, and mentors.

Purpose: Your purpose is to inform your audience about your best current thinking about an idea for a startup. Ultimately, you want to entice your fellow classmates to join you in exploring this problem more deeply with hopes of identifying a commercially viable value proposition. (That said, service-oriented entrepreneurial projects are also welcome.)

Required Content

For now, your summary does not need to address all aspects of the BMC. For instance, you are not expected to have any solutions nor a plan to conduct customer discovery, although hypotheses, informed by informal preliminary research (e.g., textual research or customer discovery interviews) are welcome.

Name of Startup: _____________________________________

Business Thesis: lead your memo with a 140 character or less summary of what your company will do. Your thesis should address why people will pay money for the product, service, or application you are developing.

Elevator Pitch: provide a 100 word executive summary of your pitch

The Problem Definition: Explain the problem from the customer’s perspective: How does the customer experience the problem as a pain?

  1. Is this an enduring problem, a problem that has been tackled in the past? Are other services, applications, or products available to address this problem? If so, what evidence do you have that these existing solutions are ineffective? What do you know about this problem space and ways to solve it that other people do not?
  2. Is this a new problem, something that hasn’t been addressed in the past? What are the circumstances that have led to this new problem?
  3. What do you know about your customers? Can you identify customer segments, customer personas?

The Problem Definition Visualization:

  1. Provide a visualization of the problem space, stakeholders, causes of the problem, and potential solutions to the problem (see Problem Definition)

The Business Opportunity: What is the commercial potential?

  1. Add a visual of the TAM (Total Addressable Market) for the problem space. (Speculation is welcome here, but entrepreneurship is built on a foundation of empirical research, so your story will be more compelling if you can cite supporces to support your TAM projection.)
  2. Provide a visualization of your BMC either as an appendix or, preferably, embedded in your text where you discuss the business opportunity. Provide a minimum of one sentence or verb phrase for each of the nine business elements

Recommendations
If your prose style has the attributes of writer-based prose, recognize that all is lost: the people you want to work with either won’t understand you or they won’t want to work with you. Well….unless you have a glimmer of an idea that is blue sky. So, pause, take a moment. Before you submit work for this class, review technical and professional writing style. Reread your work to ensure it represents your best work product. Don’t forget to revise and edit.

Module 2,

The Customer Discovery Process, Design Thinking, Venture Design

The Customer Discovery Module presumes entrepreneurs should build not what they believe a customer needs but rather what the customer tells them they need. This module challenges you to take a deeper look into Customer Discovery, Design Thinking, and Venture Design so that you can build a successful business model.

Source: The Venture Design Process by Alex Cowan, https://www.alexandercowan.com/venture-design/. Used with permission

Customer Discovery is wildly popular in the startup community. This methodology traces its roots to

A number of terms are used to describe Customer Discovery practices, including

  1. Design Thinking, which is a human-centered, empirical research method that employs user-centric methods (e.g., customer discovery interviews, focus groups, usability studies) to solve problems and develop products and applications that people want.
  2. Venture Design, which is a systematic method for engaging in Design Thinking, which was developed by Alexander Cowan, an entrepreneur and lecturer in the MBA program at UVA Davon.
  3. Lean, Lean Product Development, lean startup, lean software development, etc.

During Weeks 4, 5 and 6 of The Customer Discovery Module you will continue your efforts to learn as much as you can about the the problem space. This work may involve some

  • textual research, such as strategically investigating what’s been published about the problem space, the websites and solutions of competitors, and the customer’s pain with regards to the problem space.
  • empirical research, such as interviewing customers, stakeholders, strategic partners, and competitors tabout their views on the problem space

By Week 6, based on your customer research, you and your team will draft Customer Personas, User Stories, & Value Propositions.

Thereafter, weeks 7 through 10, you’ll be focused on finalizing a number of startup documents critical to your company’s future. Your final goal is to assess the commercial viability of your business idea. You need to report on whether you have found product market fit–i.e., that you have developed a solution for a real customer problem, something the customer needs to have as opposed to likes to have.

Week 4, 2/1 to 2/7, Genre: Employment Documents & Team Charter

Week 4 is arguably the most important week of Professional Writing. Why? Well, because this week defines the work product you’ll engage in over the next six weeks. This week requires agency on your part. Getting going on a good project with a cool startup is the ultimate goal. You need to take action to join a startup or to attract talent to your startup. But if your bored by what others are working on, trace your own path….

This week you’ll

  1. read about collaboration, venture design, design thinking, and the genre of Team Charters
  2. complete two major assignments:
    1. As an individual, you’ll write either
      • a job cover letter and a resume or
      • a job description and a resume
    2. As a member of a fledgling startup, you’ll collaborate with your colleagues to draft the first iteration of your Team Charter.

Assignments & Due Dates

  1. As early as Monday, 2/1/21 or as late as Wednesday, 2/3/21, at the latest,
    1. consider the role of collaboration in professional contexts:
      1. Co-authorship
      2. Conflict Resolution
      3. Leadership
      4. Teamwork
      5. Tools for Project Management
    2. if you want to recruit a team for your startup,
      1. review the guidelines presented at How to Write a Killer Job Description: Checklist for Startups
      2. describe the specific roles you are advertising, such as CEO, Product Manager, Technical Founder, Researcher, Business Strategist, Designer, Senior Writer, Accountant, Developer. Clarify upfront whether the position(s) come with some equity in the company.
      3. post the advertisement/job description(s) to the Discussion Board via Canvas: Week 4: Genre: Employment Documents
      4. upload the advertisement/job description to Canvasfor grading
      5. Recommended Reading:
        1. Sam Altman’s A Great Team & Hiring & Managing
    3. if you want to join someone else’s startup,
      1. search internet to view sample résumés
      2. read Writing the Conventional Résumé
      3. read Establishing Your Professional Self: Résumé Writing
      4. email the Founder a (1) letter of interest and (2) a résumé in support of your application
      5. upload the (1) letter of interest and (2) a résumé in support of your application to Canvas for grading.
  2. By Sunday, 2/7,
    1. review Team Charter to better understand the conventions of this genre
    2. Decide whether you want to join someone’s startup or work to create your own startup. In order to view, join, or leave a startup log on to Canvas. Go to People. You can view existing teams by selecting the Startup LLCs Tab. From this window you can join and leave startups (aka groups).
    3. Work collaboratively or individually (in the case of sole founders) to draft a Team Charter.
      1. Use gdocs to write your Team Charter. Be sure all group members have editing privileges to your course Team Charter.
      2. Provide a link to your team charter at the course gdoc.
    4. Upload your Team Charter to Canvas for grading.
      1. Note: for teams, only one person (aka the Document Manager) should submit the Team Charter for grading. This is a group assignment. One grade will be assigned to all students.
FAQs
If no one joins your startup idea and you are not interested in the existing startup projects, can you work on your own idea as a sole founder?

Reply: Yes, solo founders are acceptable. However, solo founders are discouraged. Leading incubators frown on applications from single founders. Getting a business off the ground is hard work for a team of talented people. Successful founders need to be able to work well with others. Intrapersonal competencies are highly prized by employers.

[ 5 reasons why it is great being a sole founder ]

[ Sole Founders with Profitable Businesses: Here’s What You Need to Know ]
How do I join a group?
Reply: Log on to Canvas. Select People. Open the tab Startup LLCs. Use the plus symbol to join or leave a group.

How do I leave a group?
Reply: Log on to Canvas. Select People. Open the tab Startup LLCs. Then you can navigate membership there.

BTW, if you find yourself in a group that you thought would work but doesn’t (either now or later in the semester), well, then, you can try to join another group by writing the Founder(s). However, you cannot be guaranteed entry to other startups. Why? Well, that could interrupt the flow of a startup, and we need to be sensitive to group needs. Thus, if your first group doesn’t work out for whatever reason, you can try a second group but if you’re not welcomed, then you need to work as a solo founder project.

Work Product of Solo Founders
Being a solo founder is more work than being a member of a team. As a solo founder, you need to do everything. You’re firing on all cylinders to explore the nine elements of the BMC.

When you’re working with colleagues, the people who are particularly good at one thing or another can take you can take responsibility for particular parts to the whole. And when there’s a shared group mission, the whole is greater than the parts.

Solo Founders will engage in collaboration by asking to complete collaboration exercises.
Source: https://startupstash.com/sole-founders/

Assignment Guidelines

Medium: Please use Google Docs. Ensure all team members have editing permissions to your doc.

Audience: Team Charters have multiple potential audiences: your supervisor/employees; investors, clients, partners, mentors, and the instructor for this course.

Purpose: The purpose of your Team Charter is to

  1. Facilitate accountability
  2. Facilitate critical thinking, consensus building

Required Content

For now, your summary does not need to address all aspects of the BMC. For instance, you are not expected to have any solutions nor a plan to conduct customer discovery, although hypotheses, informed by informal preliminary research (e.g., textual research or customer discovery interviews) are welcome.

Instead, this assignment focuses on defining the name of each startup, listing the employee roster, and outlining the particular talents of the team.

Cover Page

  1. Name of Startup: _____________________________________
  2. Employee Roster (in alphabetical order)
    1. First Name, Last Name, Title
    2. First Name, Last Name, Title
    3. First Name, Last Name, Title
    4. First Name, Last Name, Title
    5. First Name, Last Name, Title

Business Thesis: In a 140 character or less summarize ofwhat your company will do and why customers will pay for your services, applications

Elevator Pitch: provide a 50 word executive summary that defines the problem space you anticipate exploring. What is the problem your startup is exploring?

Founders & Employees:

Last Name, First NameEmailRoles & ResponsibilitiesBio
In small startups, people can manage a number of roles. Define the roles and responsibilities for each member of the startup.Summarize each founder’s/employee’s competencies as they pertain to startup’s mission

Recommended Content
Note: the following recommended parts will not be graded at this time.

Your team should start a rough draft of its business plan. Below are some recommended sections. Please note that there is not just one way to write a plan. You can best determine the sections you need to add to your business plan by thinking about your audience–incubators, mentors, investors, business partners, Instead, there are , but how you compose your business plan will be determined by your rhetorical audience, especially your customers.

The Problem Definition: Explain the problem from the customer’s perspective: How does the customer experience the problem as a pain?

  1. What is the problem space for your startup?
    1. Who is your audience?
      1. What do you know about your customers? How are your customers experiencing pain? Can you identify customer personas? customer segments? problem scenarios?
      2. What do you know about your market?
      3. What customer personas are associated with particular usage scenarios?
    2. Is this an enduring problem, a problem that has been tackled in the past?
      1. Are other services, applications, or products available to address this problem? If so, what evidence do you have that these existing solutions are ineffective? What do you know about this problem space and ways to solve it that other people do not?
    3. Is this a new problem, a problem that hasn’t been addressed in the past? What are the circumstances that have led to this new problem? new technologies?

The Problem Definition Visualization:

  1. Provide a visualization of the problem space, stakeholders, causes of the problem, and potential solutions to the problem (see Problem Definition)

The Business Opportunity: What is the commercial potential?

  1. Add a visual of the TAM (Total Addressable Market) for the problem space. (Speculation is welcome here, but entrepreneurship is built on a foundation of empirical research, so your story will be more compelling if you can cite supporces to support your TAM projection.)
  2. Provide a visualization of your BMC either as an appendix or, preferably, embedded in your text where you discuss the business opportunity. Provide a minimum of one sentence or verb phrase for each of the nine business elements

Week 5, 2/8 to 2/14, Customer Discovery & Team Charter, Revised

Your goal this week is to plan your Customer Discovery & Experiments. By Wednesday you’ll be asked to share a research protocol. Then on Sunday, you will have the opportunity to submit a revised team charter and some other startup documents for grading.

This week you need to invest time in reading and learning more about Customer Discovery, Design Thinking, and Venture Design.

Suggested Readings: empirical research, qualitative research, collaboration, venture design and design thinking.

Assignments & Due Dates

  1. By Wednesday, 2/10/21, working individually,
    1. continue your preliminary research. Learn how to conduct Customer Discovery, a mode of empirical research:
      1. listen to two or three of Steve Blank’s videos on the value of Customer Discovery:
        1. What is Customer Discovery and Why Do it?
        2. No Business Plan Survives First Contact With Customers. 2 Minutes to See Why
        3. Stop Telling Yourself What You Want to Believe (1.39) SL UCSF
        4. Narrowing the Focus (1:21) SL UCSF
        5. Getting to the “Better Idea” Faster (3:59) SL UCSF
        6. The Phases of Customer Discovery (0:37) CD
        7. Why Get Out of the Building?
        8. Pre-Planning Contacts (4:34) CD
        9. Customer Interview Dry Runs (0:49) CD
        10. Discovery is for Founders (1:30) CD
        11. Pass/Fail Experiments (1:32) CD
      2. read Alexander Cowan’s Personas for Design, Development, & Growth
        1. Five Things You Can do with Personas
        2. Problem Scenarios: A Personas Best Friend
        3. How do you answer questions with a persona?
        4. Drafting Personas
        5. Drafting Discovery Questions
        6. Deepening Personas through ‘Day in the Life’
        7. Finding Subjects
        8. Interviewing Subjects
      3. read Alexander Cowan’s Hypothesis-Driven Development (Practitioner’s Guide)
    2. write your Research Protocol for conducting next week’s customer discovery interviews. Submit it to Canvas and share via gdocs with your colleagues
      1. The primary audience for your research protocol is everyone in your company; the secondary audience could be an instructor or mentor.
      2. The purpose is to help coordinate and share the evolution of research regarding product-market fit.

Required Content:

  1. Name of Company
  2. URL for Research Protocol at gDocs
  3. Name of Founders, Employees
  4. Experiments: What hypotheses will you test?
    • Note, it’s fine for now for multiple peers to test the same hypotheses. However, it is more strategic for individuals to select different business hypotheses to test. Different members of the team may address different questions raised by the BMC.
  5. Methods: How will you conduct your experiment? How will you test hypotheses? Will you conduct focus groups? usability studies? surveys

2. By Sunday, 2/14/20, working collaboratively revise/resubmit your startup’s Team Charter and related startup texts (e.g., business thesis, elevator speech, etc.).

Assignment Guidelines

Please note your instructor’s expectations are higher for this draft than last week’s. After all, last week, your instructor was primarily looking to see teams were established to explore particular problem spaces.

This week your instructor will be looking to see that claims about problem spaces, customer pain/desire, and value propositions will be presented as hypotheses that need to be accepted or rejected following face-to-face interviews with customers, focus groups with customers, surveys of customer segments, and other modes of Customer Discovery. That said, because you are so early in the venture design, it’s understandable that this draft of your startup’s team charter is likely to rely more heavily on textual research and personal knowledge than customer research. It’s important to note that at this point a lack of a bit of textual research suggests laziness and a lack of professionalism.

Note: this draft of your Team Charter may have some sentences or even whole paragraphs repeated. That’s fine. That’s the nature of revision, iteration, and thought. Still, teams tend to keep editing till the moment a text is due, so changes are always occurring as one’s focus becomes clearer.

The rhetorical situation for this text is the same as last weeks’ first iteration of your Team Charter:

  • Medium: Please use Google Docs. Ensure all team members and instructor have editing permissions.
  • Audience: Team Charters have multiple potential audiences: your supervisor/employees; investors, clients, partners, mentors, and the instructor for this course.
  • Purpose: The purpose of your Team Charter is to
    • Facilitate accountability
    • Facilitate critical thinking, consensus building

Required Content

Cover Page

  1. Name of Startup: _____________________________________
  2. gDoc url (with Editing Permissions)
  3. Employee Roster (in alphabetical order)
    1. First Name, Last Name, Title
    2. First Name, Last Name, Title
    3. First Name, Last Name, Title
    4. First Name, Last Name, Title
    5. First Name, Last Name, Title
  4. Bios for Founders & Employees:
Last Name, First NameEmailRoles & ResponsibilitiesBio
In small startups, people can manage a number of roles. Define the roles and responsibilities for each member of the startup.Summarize each founder’s/employee’s competencies as they pertain to startup’s mission

5. The Problem Space & The Problem Definition:
In 100 words or less, define the Problem Space & The Problem Definition. Be specific, detailed, about the customer’s pain.

Note: at this text is being written early in the Customer Discovery process, you need to lean in to textual research on your problem definition as well as anecdotal experience and informal research.

  1. What is the problem space for your startup?
    1. Who is your audience?
      1. What do you know about your customers? How are your customers experiencing pain? Can you identify customer personas? customer segments? problem scenarios?
      2. What do you know about your market?
      3. What customer personas are associated with particular usage scenarios?
    2. Is this an enduring problem, a problem that has been tackled in the past?
      1. Are other services, applications, or products available to address this problem? If so, what evidence do you have that these existing solutions are ineffective? What do you know about this problem space and ways to solve it that other people do not?
    3. Is this a new problem, a problem that hasn’t been addressed in the past? What are the circumstances that have led to this new problem? new technologies?

6. The Problem Definition Visualization:

Provide a visualization of the problem space, stakeholders, causes of the problem, and potential solutions to the problem (see Problem Definition)

Customer Discovery Plan

Create a brief narrative that outlines particulars of what experiments you plan for next week, how those experiments will be conducted, and who will conduct the experiments

Customer Discovery Plan Visualization

Provide a visualization–at least a table and preferably a Gantt Chart that illustrates your Customer Discovery Plan.

Customer Research Plan

Provide a summary of the startup’s ongoing experiments.

Customer Research Visualization

Provide a visualization–at least a table and preferably a Gantt Chart that illustrates your Customer Discovery Plan.

[Note to Solo Founders: The Gantt Chart isn’t required, but the Table is or some other sort of visualization.]


Optional Content

[The content below won’t be graded. IOWs, it won’t hurt your grade no matter what you write, but it will be reviewed if you submit it, and that will most likely help you later….]

Business Thesis: In a 140 characters or less assert why consumers will purchase your service, application, or goods. Try to make this sentence as lucid as possible. Do that by using Concrete & Sensory Language

Elevator Pitch: provide a 100 word executive summary of your business plan. Note: this is just a draft, a place to think, a constant source of concern for an entrepreneur. Founders and Product Managers work to reiterate a business model until it works.

The Business Opportunity: What is the commercial potential?

  1. Add a visual of the TAM (Total Addressable Market) for the problem space. (Speculation is welcome here, but entrepreneurship is built on a foundation of empirical research, so your story will be more compelling if you can cite sources to support your TAM projection.)
  2. Provide a visualization of your BMC either as an appendix or, preferably, embedded in your text where you discuss the business opportunity. Provide a minimum of one sentence or verb phrase for each of the nine business elements.

Week 6, 2/15 to 2/21, Customer Personas, User Stories, & Value Propositions

Last week’s plans come to fruition this week. This step of customer discovery research requires that you to set your ideas aside and listen to your customers, stakeholders, and partners. This week your focus is empathy, listening, being present in the moment, letting it flow, and NOT LEADING THE WITNESS.

Source: Steve Blank: Want Your Startup to Succeed? ‘Get Out of the Building’ | Inc. Magazine

This week you will work individually to

  1. interview two customers
    1. Each student is responsible for conducting two customer discovery interviews by Thursday, 2/16.
  2. write up an internal research report that reports on what your interviewees think, see, say and do regarding the problem space you are exploring.

Additionally, you will work collaboratively to

  • draft the first iteration of your company’s customer personas, user stories & prototypes in response to two weeks of Customer Discovery.
Source: Alex Cowan, https://www.alexandercowan.com/tutorial-personas-problem-scenarios-user-stories/. Used with permission

Assignments & Due Dates

  1. Reread Alex Cowan’s Personas for Design, Development, & Growth. Spend some time reviewing Professor Cowan’s tutorials and resources. Be sure to pay attention to Cowan’s advice on Finding Subjects
    1. Persona?
    2. Five Things You Can do with Personas
    3. Problem Scenarios: A Personas Best Friend
    4. How do you answer questions with a persona?
    5. Drafting Personas
    6. Drafting Discovery Questions
    7. Deepening Personas through ‘Day in the Life’
    8. Finding Subjects
    9. Interviewing Subjects
    10. Revising & Iterating
    11. Editing/Scrubbing per Research Protocol
    12. Testing Your Personas
    13. Storyboarding the Customer Journey
  2. Recommended Readings:
    1. Design Thinking
    2. Persona
    3. Problem Definition
    4. Problem Space, Solution Space
    5. Problem Scenarios
    6. Design Thinking
    7. Venture Design
    8. Rhetoric
    9. Rhetorical Context
  3. By Wednesday, 2/17/21, working individually, write/submit a 100 word personal reflection (Genre: Self Reflection) on what you learned as a result of conducting two customer discovery interviews. For instance, address how you might do a better interview next time. Or, write about an insight you gained about the problem space. Or reflect on the practice of engaging in deep listening.

    Audience:
    You are the audience for this text. In real life, investigators keep persona logs where they freewrite ideas.

    Grading:
    So long as you complete this assignment on time and place the word count on the top of the page of your reflection, you will receive 5 points.
  4. By Thursday, 2/18/21, write an internal report to your colleagues at the startup that updates the team on your ongoing Customer Discovery efforts (Genre: Research Reports).

    Recommended Length: 2 to 4 pages; i.e., one to two pages for each interviewed customer.

    Grading:
    Provided you include all required content, you will receive full credit for this assignment. It will be graded complete/incomplete.

    Required Content
    Your report should clarify
    1. Overview:
      1. What experiments did you run this week?
      2. What were you key takeaways?
    2. Methods
      1. Did you conduct two customer discovery interviews? Did you engage in focus groups? Did you run a taste test? Did you conduct a survey?
    3. Results & Observations:
      1. What hypotheses were affirmed or denied?
      2. What does your customer think, see, feel, or do in relation to the problem space you are investigating?
      3. What are the alternative ways your customer uses to navigate the problem space?
    4. Key Learnings/Action Items:
      1. What did you learn about the customer and the problem space?
      2. Were you able to identify a customer persona? How does the customer experience the problem? Where is the customer’s pain? What does the customer see, feel, think, do?
  5. By Sunday, 2/21/21, working collaboratively,
    1. read/reread
    2. read/discuss one another’s Research Reports (see above):
      • Collaborate to identify any commonalities in your colleague’s reports. What patterns do you see in the customer discovery interviews? Is it possible to sort customers into particular personas and customer segments?
    3. Consult Cowan’s Venture Design Template and Example A: Personas & Problem Scenarios from Enable Quiz (Startup).
    4. Write and submit the first draft of
      1. Customer Personas.
        Your goal is to create personas that are
        1. “Real
        2. Exact
        3. Actionable
        4. Clear
        5. Testable” (see Cowan’s REACT Checklist).
      2. Problem Scenarios & Alternatives:
        What is the user’s experience in the problem space when he/she/they attempt(s) to navigate the problem? Identify the customer persona’s habits, tasks, and desires as it relates to the problem space you are investigating. What alternatives are presently available to the customer?
      3. Value Propositions:
        1. Based on your analysis of the problem space and customer personas, what solutions can you imagine to alleviate or eliminate the pain experienced by particular customer personas/customer segments?
        2. What makes you think this solution will be a must have as opposed to a nice to have.
        3. What experiments need to occur in order to investigate the commercial viability of each value proposition?

Week 7, 2/22 to 2/28, User Stories, Customer Personas, & Other Startup Texts

This week you are engaged in Design Thinking and Venture Design with hopes of achieving product/market fit.

You have two assignments this week:

  1. write a memo to your colleagues at the startup that updates them on your ongoing customer discovery research.
  2. work with your colleagues to update your startup’s Customer Personas Report and other startup documents.

Assignments & Due Dates

  1. By Wednesday, 2/24/21, working individually
    1. Write a 2nd research report to your colleagues that updates them on your customer discovery work this week.

      Each student must engage in two additional customer interviews or conduct meaningful work using other methods, including survey research, usability research, comparison taste research.

      Following Cowan, please address the following questions:
      1. What hypothesis did you test?
      2. Methods. How did you test the hypothesis?
      3. Results. Were the hypotheses accepted? rejected? Given the results, how does the company’s value proposition(s) need to be rejected, revised, or replaced.
      4. Recommendations. What will you do next? Is there a new value proposition you’d like to examine? Is it time to reiterate (dig deeper as guided by logic and venture design)? Or, is it time to pivot. Has your startup found a new idea, something that is potentially a must have (as opposed to a nice to have).
  2. By Sunday, 2/28/21, working collaboratively, revise and submit to Canvas the following startup documents:
    1. Business Thesis (140 characters)
    2. Executive Summary (aka Elevator Speech)
    3. Customer Personas
      1. TAM
    4. Problem Scenarios & Alternatives
    5. Value Propositions & Assumptions
    6. User Stories & Prototypes
    7. Bios/Company Roster
    8. Updated BMC

      Note: This assignment will be graded collaboratively. You may find it useful to make one person responsible for one document and then have that person draft the original and then circulate for comments and critique. When revising, however, make sure that the documents have a consistent tone, persona, rhetorical stance. Documents with repetition, different vocabulary and syntax undermine the startup’s professionalism.

Week 8, 3/1 to 3/7, The Commercialization Plan

Thus far, your focus has been on the customer and the customer’s pain as it relates to the problem space. You have immersed yourself in the believing game, embracing a growth mindset. This week, however, your focus shifts from the problem space to exploring the commercial feasibility of a solution, a value proposition, that has emerged from your customer discovery research.

Your goal this week is to give some thought as whether you have product-market fit or if it’s time for you to pivot to a different idea. Now, you need to put your head up for a moment and analyze whether the solutions you have been imagining in response to your customer discovery interviews are commercially viable.

You have two assignments this week:

Assignments & Due Dates

  1. Read Problem Space vs. Solution Space by Nikhil Gupta
  2. By Wednesday, 3/3, working collaboratively, draft an assessment of the commercial viability of your startup (see guidelines below).
  3. Post a link to this assessment report at the course gdoc.
    1. Note: This assignment is graded Complete/Incomplete and is good for 10 points.
  4. By Sunday, 3/7, conduct a peer review of 3 other startups’ commercialization assessments. Post those reviews to the Class Discussion board.

Guidelines for Assessing The Commercialization Plan
For this assignment, let’s assume you and your colleagues share a willingness to pivot based on empirical evidence. Additionally, let’s assume everyone on the team is fully aware of your past customer discovery work.

  1. Startup Cover Page
    1. Names of Startup Members
    2. Business Thesis (140 characters)
  2. Executive Summary
    Summarize your startup’s commercialization plans.
    1. How will your startup make money? (revenue streams)
      1. Identify the Key Activities your startup needs to achieve its business thesis.
      2. What Key Partnerships and Key Resources does your startup need in order to commercialize?
    2. What is your Cost Structure?
  3. Key Partners
    Is your business plan dependent on engaging additional partners? If so, what work needs to be done to secure those partners? What costs are associated with obtaining these partners?
  4. Key Activities
    Provide a narrative summary and a Gantt chart of activities, ranked by priority. Identify the major steps that need to take place in the solution space for the company to generate revenue. Provide a time frame for the development. Be realistic.
  5. Key Resources
    What resources are required to scale your solution? What are your plans for obtaining these resources?
  6. Cost Structure
    What employee, infrastructure, and distribution costs can you anticipate?
  7. Revenue Streams
    What are your strategies for making money? What are your ROI (return on investment) expectations per year for the next five years?

Guidelines for Peer Review
Peer Review (Links to an external site.) is a vital workforce competency. Giving and getting critique can be challenging for employees and managers, particularly after teams have worked hard under deadlines to overcome obstacles and work as a team.

For this exercise, I ask that you

  1. review at least three other teams’ early drafts for their business plansat this gDoc page.  (Links to an external site.)
  2. write a 75 to 100 word critique of the three reports (a total of about 300 words).
  3. paste the 3 critiques into one text and post in this discussion forum.

Ultimately, ideally, your discussion post will follow this format:

1. Name of Team/Project  

  • 75 to 100 word critique

2. Name of Team/Project

  • 75 to 100 word critique

3. Name of Team/Project

  • 75 to 100 word critique

For each critique, I ask that you adopt a global perspective  rather than a local perspective. You don’t need to address style, grammar, mechanics, punctuation. Instead, work to provide thoughtful, insightful criticism about the depth and appropriateness of the textual and empirical research.

Address substantive concerns (Links to an external site.), such as whether the problem definition, customer personas, user scenarios are well developed,

Week 9, 3/8 to 3/14, The Business Plan

Week 9 is the capstone to weeks 1 through 9. This is your opportunity to show what you learned about the problem space, venture design, and customer discovery. Additionally, as a result of my feedback on your writing over the past eight weeks, especially my comments on your startup documents, you be able to demonstrate your mastery of a professional writing style.

Please note that you are not expected to have achieved product-market fit nor are you expected to have a polished prototype/mvp. IRL, those insights are rare and typically the result of sustained customer discovery.

Assignments & Due Dates

  1. By Wednesday, 3/9,
    1. To prepare for next week, read the guidelines for the Frank and Ellen Daveler Entrepreneurship Program.
  2. By Sunday, 3/14,
    1. Write/submit your startup’s Business Plan.

Guidelines for Business Plan

Required Content
Below is a list of common elements of business plans built on a foundation of customer discovery and venture design. While these elements are necessary to provide

  1. Letter of Transmittal to Investors, Mentors, Employees [& Instructor]
    • This is a one to two-page document. Ideally, one page.

      Based on your startup’s first sprint (its first nine-weeks) should the startup continue? Is it time to pivot? Have you achieved product-market fit? Is additional customer discovery needed? or would you team be better served abandoning this problem space? If you have a prototype/mvp in mind, what additional resources (time/money) will be needed to make progress?
  2. Cover
    1. Startup title
    2. List names & roles of team
  3. Business Thesis (140 characters)
    1. On one page list the business thesis. Somewhere on that page, list the character count in parenthesis)
  4. Elevator Speech (aka Executive Summary)
    1. Provide the number of words used in your elevator speech at the bottom of the document; the elevator speech should take up an entire page and it should ideally include a visualization fo the startup’s work product.
  5. The Problem Space
    1. Customer Personas
    2. Problem Scenarios & Alternatives
    3. Value Propositions & Assumptions
    4. User Stories & Prototypes
    5. Visualization of Problem Space
  6. The Solution Space
    1. Prototype/MVP
    2. Visualization of Solution Space
  7. The Commercialization Space
    1. TAM
    2. Key Partners
    3. Key Activities
    4. Key Resources
    5. Cost Structure
    6. Revenue Streams (best guess estimates)
    7. Visualization of Commercialization Space
  8. Bios/Roles/Accomplishments
  9. References/Works Cited (as needed)
  10. Appendices (as needed)
    1. The BMC
Congrats! You have completed Module 2, The Customer Discovery Process

Module 3, Frank and Ellen Daveler Entrepreneurship Program

Module 3 is a one-week long project that empowers you to leverage what you’ve learned about a professional writing prose style, venture design, and customer discovery in order to compete for State of Florida’s Frank and Ellen Daveler Entrepreneurship Program.

Week 10, 3/15 to 3/21, Business Pitch for State of Florida Competition

Your goal this week is to work individually to pitch an idea for the Frank and Ellen Daveler Entrepreneurship Program, an awards program open to State of Florida university students. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can submit to an incubator program, such as Tampa Bay Wave or YCombinator. If you select this alternative path, please share the incubator guidelines with me prior to submission.

Please note that the State of Florida program is open only to solo founders. Thus, you cannot submit the startup idea you’ve been working on if you’re in a team unless the group agrees that one person can move forward with the team’s idea. If a startup team chooses this option, then this assignment can be submitted as a group project and everyone will receive the same grade. Otherwise, you can pitch a new idea or a different iteration than the team’s current idea.

Assignments & Due Dates

By Sunday, 3/21/21

  1. submit to Canvas an application for the Frank and Ellen Daveler Entrepreneurship Program Award | Online Application

I’m not sure what text seemed confusing to you. But I see I didn’t spell out all of the details. So, let me elaborate: I’m asking you to complete the application for the Frank and Ellen Daveler Entrepreneurship Program (Links to an external site.).

  1. Go to https://www.usf.edu/entrepreneurship/initiatives/daveler/
  2. Click Apply Here
  3. Copy the guidelines in Word or gDoc or wherever else you like to write. Or, just retype the questions and prompts. Write, keeping it simple so it can be pasted back into a form. Revise/edit, etc. Make sure the final copy is edited professionally, etc.
  4. Upload your final draft to Canvas for grading
  5. Submit your application via the USF form only if you wish to compete for the award. Note: It is optional whether or not you submit your idea to the Frank and Ellen Daveler Entrepreneurship Program Award. In other words, there is no grade penalty if you don’t submit your idea so long as you follow their guidelines and upload your response to Canvas.

USF Opens Explorance Blue, its Course Evaluation System
You will receive an email from the university asking that you evaluate the course. Please take a moment to do so. Each year, faculty are evaluated based on their student reviews, so this process is important to me…

Module 4

Visual Rhetoric, Information Design, & the Evolution of Professional Writing Conventions in the Modern Workplace

This final module of Professional Writing continues our exploration of a professional writing style, especially the move in modern discourse from long chunks of alphabetical text to more visual, multimedia-rich texts. Topics include Design, Data Visualization , Design Elements, Design Principles, Design Theory and Research, Page Design, Photographs, and Usability Design.

The ability to simplify complex data–whether quantitative or qualitative–is a vital workforce competency:

The ability to take data—to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it—that’s going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades . . . So the complimentary scarce factor is the ability to understand that data and extract value from it.

Hal Varian, The McKinsey Quarterly, January 2009

Over a period of four weeks, this module has two major and three minor deliverables:

Major DeliverablesMinor Deliverables
1. An original Infographic
2. A Memo on Design Choices.

1. A heuristic exercise
2. A video pitch
3. Two peer reviews

Students may elect to work individually or collaboratively on the assignments associated with Module 4. If students wish, they may continue work on their startup teams and integrate the infographic into the startup’s pitch documents. Rather than a memo solely on the design choices of a single infographic, they can discuss their design choices for their pitch documents, discussing logos, templates for documents, etc.

Student Learning Outcomes

Becoming more aware of how and why visuals work will help you engage in visual literacy practices. By the time you’ve completed this module, you’ll be able to

  • employ design principles to improve the clarity and persuasiveness of your texts
  • write in a professional genre, particularly Video Pitches and Infographics.
  • Practice collaboration. Learn and apply strategies for successful collaboration, such as working and communicating online with colleagues, setting and achieving project goals, and responding constructively to peers’ work.

Recommended Readings

Data Visualization
Graphic Design
Infographics

Week 11, 3/22/21 to 3/28/21, Video Pitch

[ 3/27, Last day to withdraw; no refund, no academic penalty ]

Your goal this week is to learn about the genre of infographics and the requirements of The Infographic Project. By week’s end, you will develop and submit a video pitch to the discussion forum at Canvas, the Course Management System. Your pitch will identify a possible topic and possible sources of evidence for either a quantitative or narrative infographic.

Key Concepts: Pitch; Rhetorical Context.

Assignments & Due Dates

  1. By Sunday, 3/28
    • Write/submit a video pitch to your classmates and instructor that
      1. identifies which infographic tool you’ll use to compose your infographic
      2. what genre of infographic you’ll employ
      3. what original chart, table, or graph you plan to compose
    • Upload your video to You Tube (or another similar service) to discussion board via Canvas. (Please do not worry about the production quality of the video; rather, it’s what you say that matters. It’s fine to use your cell phone to record the video.)

Assignment Guidelines

Your goal is to produce a 60-second video presentation that introduces your idea and rhetorical situation for an infographic in accordance with the assignment guidelines for The Infographic Project. Your rhetorical stance for this pitch is informal: you can address your peers as fellow students in an undergraduate professional writing course.

In your presentation make sure you

  • Introduce topic and rhetorical situation
  • Explain the “story” of your infographic and discuss your design choices.
  • Describe the data sets/sources you used and explain why they were good sources for this project
  • Optional: Ask for specific feedback on the aspects of the project where your struggling or that you feel are still weak.

Recommendations for Developing Your Pitch

  1. First, familiarize yourself with the genre of the infographic. Do a strategic search for exemplary infographics or for infographics on topics of interest to you.
    1. The Daily Infographic: What IS an Infographic?
    2. Creating “Viral” Impressions: Composing Infographics for the Classroom and Work Space
    3. Infographics
    4. Reading 13. Graphic Design. MIT
  2. Google some one-minute pitches on a topic that interests you.
  3. Complete the Heuristic Exercise for the Infographic Project
  4. Practice your pitch several times and then video yourself with your phone. To get something workable, play it back a few times and make sure you hit the key points at a pace that isn’t rushed.
Course Evaluations Using Explorance Blue in the Canvas APP
I hope you found our work useful to your future career. Please don’t forget to take a moment to complete a course evaluation at Explorance Blue, the course-evaluation software for this course, which is accessible from Canvas.

Week 12, 3/29 to 4/4, Infographic & Memo on Design Choices, 1st Iteration

Your goal this week is to complete a solid draft of your infographic and Memo on Design Choices.

  1. By Sunday, 4/4
    1. Write an infographic and a memo to your instructor that fulfills the requirements for The Infographic Project and a Memo on Design Choices
    2. upload your infographic and memo on design choices to Canvas for grading
    3. at the course gdoc,
      1. share a link that has editing privileges to your memo
      2. share a link that has editing privileges to your infographic
        1. Note: you can take a screenshot of your infographic and paste it in the bottom of your design memo or you can upload the infographic as a .pdf to your gDocs and then link to it.

Assignment Guidelines for the Infographic

Compose one of the following types of infographics:

  1. A data visualization infographic that focuses on numbers to inform or enlighten readers
    • Develop an infographic that tells a story about data (with a heavy emphasis on numbers).
  2. An information infographic that focuses on concepts to simplify or teach complex ideas
  3. An editorial infographic that focuses on making an argument to persuade or call readers to take action

Required Content

Your infographic must

  1. include one original chart, table, or graph (i.e. a visualization of information that you created yourself).
  2. use data visualization strategies to help readers understand a complicated concept and illustrate data in a way that helps the reader understand what the data means (i.e. helps reader see “the story” in the data.)
  3. cite at least two sources. Cite all referenced data sets in the footer of the infographic or some other discreet place. Use APA, MLA., Chicago, or any other appropriate style sheet.

Overview of Tasks

  1. Begin by familiarizing yourself with the genre of infographics and assignment guidelines. Understand what distinguishes infographics from visualizations. Google and review infographics on topics of interest to you.
  2. Familiarize yourself with Data Visualization, Play around a little bit with Ralph Lengler and Martin J. Eppler’s Periodic Table of Visualization Method
  3. Complete the the heuristic exercise for The Infographic Project. That will help you get started.
  4. Try a hand sketch of your infographic
    1. If you are working on a Data Visualization Infographic,
      1. Review Data Visualizations
      2. Locate credible sources of quantitative (numbers, statistics) data on your topic of interest. Check out Information Is Beautiful’s Data Visualizations page
      3. Engage in Critical Literacy practices. What is the Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose of the datasets your used?
      4. Select appropriate data visualization strategies to represent different types of quantitative data.
    2. If you are working on a narrative or editorial infographic
      1. Locate credible sources of qualitative data (stories, narratives, theories, anecdote, thick description) on a topic of interest to you.
        1. To keep track of your sources, you may want
      2. Engage in Critical Literacy practices.
        1. What is the Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose of the evidence your used?
  5. Evaluate and select production tools that are appropriate for your skill level and the demands of your communication task
    1. Use your document design and text formatting skills to design a visual text that tells one story.
    2. Develop one original chart, table, or graph (i.e. one you created yourself) that uses a data visualization strategy from the Periodic Table of Visualization Methods
  6. Provide the bibliographical information for the datasets and evidence you used.
    • Use the citation styles your audience would expect (e.g., MLA, APA, or Chicago). Place the bibliographical information as discreetly as possible on the infographic. If you have loads of references, it’s fine to link out to a separate page for the complete list of references.

Assignment Guidelines for the Memo on Design Choices

Rhetorical Situation

Purpose: Compose a memo to your instructor that justifies the design choices you made on your infographic.

Audience: Your audience is your instructor and classmates.

  1. Your instructor will look for evidence that you have some understanding of Data Visualization, Design Elements*, Design Principles, Design Tools
  2. Optional: For students who worked collaboratively on developing an original infographic, your instructor will look for evidence you have developed strategies for working productively with others (see Collaboration).

Your analysis should demonstrate you have gained understanding of some

  1. Design
  2. the genre of infographics.
Important Note: Your explanation of your design choices needs to do more than simply point out what you did. Instead, your explanation needs to address why you did what you did. Be sure to clarify how research and theory informed your design choices.

Style

Use a memo format and a professional writing style.

Length

  • individually authored infographic & memo: 3 to 5 pages
  • collaboratively authored infographic & memo: 3 to 5 pages + 2 additional pages per student

Scope & Possible Topics

Below are some examples of topics you could address in your memo on design justifications. These are meant as examples. Feel free to investigate alternative topics.

  1. How did your rhetorical analysis of your rhetorical situation influence your design choices?
  2. How did copyright or intellectual property policies impinge on your design choices?
  3. How did Design Principles (P.A.R.C.)* inform your design choices?
  4. How did color theory or Gestalt design inform your design choices?
  5. How did principles of page design inform your infographic? Elaborate.
  6. How did the principle of Simplicity*, Visual Design guide your composing decisions?
  7. What tool(s) did you use to create your graphics and infographic? How well did that tool work out for you?

Please note that you are not expected to address all of these topics. Rather, focus on one or two topics of interest to you.

Week 13, 4/5 to 4/11, Peer Review

Assignments & Due Dates

By Wednesday, 4/7,

  1. Consult the list of your peers’ design memos and infographics at the course gDoc.
  2. Review the peer-review guidelines outlined below
  3. Conduct two peer reviews of two other students’ or teams’ infographics and corresponding memos justifying their design choices. Be sure to select the memos and infographics of students whom you have not yet reviewed this semester. Do not choose someone from your startup project. Please do your best to select an infographic and design memo outline/draft that has not yet been reviewed by other students in the class (see column with name of reviewers listed). You are not expected to edit your peers’ or other teams’ infographics or memos. Instead, you are expected to write a summary critique, a formative comment, to your peer that advises him/her/they on ways to improve their infographic and design memo.
  4. Post your review to the class discussion forum at Canvas.

Assignment Guidelines

Address the following topics in your review of your peers’ infographics and corresponding memos justifying their design choices, please :

  1. Responsiveness to the Assignment
  2. Story, Purpose
  3. Design
  4. Visuals

Responsiveness to the Assignment:

Does the infographic meet all of the assignment guidelines?

Is it a data visualization infographic, an information infographic, or an editorial infographic?
Does the infographic have one original chart, table, or graph (i.e. one you created yourself)?
Does the infographic use a data visualization strategy from the Periodic Table of Visualization Methods to help the reader understand a complicated concept?
Does the infographic illustrate data in ways that help the audience understand what the data means (i.e. helps reader see “the story” in the data)?
Does the infographic cite at least three articles, books, blogs, or presentations on either design matters or infographics as a genre. Cite all referenced data sets.

Story:

Does the infographic tell an engaging, compelling story?

Does the infographic provide the necessary introduction, contextual information, and sources its audience needs in order to assess its credibility or act?

Design:

Do the Elements of Visual Design support or detract from the story? Does the author make strategic use of the Elements of Visual Design?

Does the layout (e.g., timeline, flowchart, hierarchical decision tree, comparison) support the story? Would another layout be more effective?
Does the color scheme make sense for the rhetorical situation?

Does the infographic provide the organizational schema and logical reasoning you need in order to understand the story?

Visuals:

Do the visuals make sense given the rhetorical situation for the infographic?

Are the sizes of the images appropriate given the role of the images in conveying the story.
Are images attributed appropriately? Used ethically?
Are images culturally sensitive?
Do original graphs and tables accurately reflect data?

Spring Break, 4/12 to 4/18

Week 14, 4/19 to 4/25, Final Draft of Infographic & Design Choice Memo

  1. By 4/25, submit your final project for the course: Infographic & Design Choice Memo
Congratulations! You have finished the course! There is no final examination in this class. There is no additional work due for Professional Writing.

Week 15

No assignments this week.

Week 16, Final Exams

There are no final exams in this course.


*Please note this schedule may be changed at the discretion of the instructor. To see the most up-to-date version of this schedule, you may need to clear the cache in your browser or try a different browser.

Works Cited

Osterwalder (2012), How to Design, Test and Build Business Models. You Tube.

Osterwalder, A., Pigneur, Y., In Clark, T., & Smith, A. (2010). Business model generation: A handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers.

Cowan, Alexander (2021). Needfinding with Problem Scenarios (AKA Jobs-to-be-done), https://www.alexandercowan.com/needfinding-problem-scenarios/