Learn By Starting Things


Xconomist Report

Students should be studying how to start things-how to create and grow new products, initiatives, ventures, and enterprises-a skill set that never goes out of style and that is fundamental to our nation’s future well-being and prosperity. And the best way to learn how to start things is to actually try to start things-whether it be a new venture to do something useful for your schoolmates, a new project to do something positive for your community, or a new enterprise in your dorm room, lab, or garage that just might change the world.

And while you’re at it, pay close attention to the principles of “lean startup,” as espoused by Eric Ries. Learn that it is indeed possible to systematically maximize the probability of innovation success: by working in small, interdisciplinary teams, which don’t spend months navel-gazing in conference rooms but which seek to engage with customers and reality as soon as humanly possible, and which “learn by doing” in hyper-rapid, iterative cycles-experimenting, learning quickly from what doesn’t work and building quickly upon what does. Unlock your inner changemaker-a skill set that will be critical to future success whatever the sector you choose: private, public, social, scientific.

Xconomist Report

Todd Park is chief technology officer at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He previously co-founded Watertown, MA-based Athenahealth, a provider of medical billing, practice management, and electronic health record software.  Follow @

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