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The COVID-19 Virtual Idea Blitz: Marshaling social entrepreneurship to rapidly respond to urgent grand challenges



In response to societal grand challenges, professors have unique opportunities to be changemakers, repurposing their expertise to deploy relevant, timely, practical, and research-backed knowledge for the betterment of communities. Drawing on scholarship on post-crisis organizing, entrepreneurial hustle and social entrepreneurship, we provide a first-hand, real-time case description of a three-day Virtual Idea Blitz organized in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The event was organized and executed in less than a week and ultimately involved 200 individuals including entrepreneurs, coders, medical doctors, venture capitalists, industry professionals, students and professors from around the world. By the end of the weekend, 21 ideas with corresponding pitches were developed in five thematic areas (health needs, education, small businesses, community, and purchasing). We describe how the community was rapidly rallied, and discuss the key learning outcomes of this spontaneous entrepreneurial endeavor. We provide evidence from participants and mentors that showcase the value of the time-compressed Virtual Idea Blitz in accelerating social entrepreneurial action. We offer practical guidance to academic, community and professional institutions who would like to replicate and/or build upon our approach to stimulate the formation of community and coordinating efforts to thwart the ongoing threat of COVID-19, as well as other societal challenges that might emerge in the future.
Sophie Bacq*
Kelley School of Business
Indiana University
Will Geoghegan
Kelley School of Business
Indiana University
Matthew Josefy
Kelley School of Business
Indiana University
Regan Stevenson
Kelley School of Business
Indiana University
Trenton A. Williams
Kelley School of Business
Indiana University
All authors contributed equally and are listed alphabetically.
*Corresponding author.
In response to societal grand challenges, professors have unique opportunities to be
changemakers, repurposing their expertise to deploy relevant, timely, practical, and research-
backed knowledge for the betterment of communities. Drawing on scholarship on post-crisis
organizing, entrepreneurial hustle and social entrepreneurship, we provide a first-hand, real-time
case description of a three-day Virtual Idea Blitz organized in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
The event was organized and executed in less than a week and ultimately involved 200
individuals including entrepreneurs, coders, medical doctors, venture capitalists, industry
professionals, students and professors from around the world. By the end of the weekend, 21
ideas with corresponding pitches were developed in five thematic areas (health needs, education,
small businesses, community, and purchasing). We describe how the community was rapidly
rallied, and discuss the key learning outcomes of this spontaneous entrepreneurial endeavor. We
provide evidence from participants and mentors that showcase the value of the time-compressed
Virtual Idea Blitz in accelerating social entrepreneurial action. We offer practical guidance to
academic, community and professional institutions who would like to replicate and/or build upon
our approach to stimulate the formation of community and coordinating efforts to thwart the
ongoing threat of COVID-19, as well as other societal challenges that might emerge in the
KEYWORDS: COVID-19; Entrepreneurial Hustle; Grand Challenges; Social Entrepreneurship;
Virtual Idea Blitz
“[COVID-19] is like a natural disaster happening in slow motion. We’re often used to things like
earthquakes and hurricanes that very quickly come and then, they’re gone here we’re dealing
with the aftermath. Here we’re dealing with changes in the way we go to work and go about our
daily lives, this kind of disruption is probably going to be happening for weeks or monthsand
we’re not used to that disruption.”
(Komonews, 2020)
In early 2020, the world was caught off guard as a novel coronavirus (later named COVID-
19) began to spread around the globe. The COVID-19 crisis emerged rapidly, severely disrupting
social, economic, and health systems. While this crisis emerged simultaneously across many
geographies, it had similarities to natural disasters, which are acute collectively experienced
events with sudden onset” and result in acatastrophic depletion of resources” (Kaniasty &
Norris, 1993, p. 396; Shah, 2012; USAID, 2020).
The scope of COVID-19 quickly warranted classification as a “grand challenge” to society,
a problem that, like poverty, climate change and diseases such as cancer, calls for focused effort
by entire disciplines and communities (George, Howard-Grenville, Joshi, & Tihanyi, 2016;
Hilbert & Germ, 1902). While most grand challenges are by nature longstanding and call for
multi-year coordinated efforts among corporations, governments, charities and other non-
governmental entities, the rapid spread of the deadly virus COVID-19 in late 2019 and early
2020 emerged as an urgent grand challenge with no clear solution. Thus, this pandemic led to a
global crisis that uniquely embodied both the momentary and devastating nature of a natural
disaster and the wide scope and prolonged magnitude of a grand challenge.
Surprisingly, despite the loss of resources that could prime self-interested behavior, major
crises have regularly been shown to “unleash not the criminal [in society], but the altruistic”
(Quarantelli, 1985, p. 5), including prosocial behaviors and the creation of emergent
organizations to address human suffering (see Drabek and McEntire, 2003 for review). One
stream of research focuses on emergent responses (i.e., non-regular tasks launched by
new/existing structures) that are common in reaction to crises and are typically constituted of
individuals and/or organizations that were directly impacted by a crisis event (Drabek &
McEntire, 2003). While emergent responses are common in the aftermath of a crisis, COVID-19
presents unique challenges in that the crisis is still unfoldingwith no clear end in sight. The
urgency of this unprecedented societal grand challenge calls for de novo emergent responses that
adopt impact-oriented, innovative, and potentially unorthodox approaches to alleviate suffering.
This article aims to shed light on such approaches by highlighting the emergence of efforts
to address the extreme problems created by COVID-19 through virtual, collaborative events
seeking to quickly identify and develop solutions to create social value. We share a detailed case
study of one of the earliest such responses, a “Virtual Idea Blitz.
This rapid response initiative
was led by a group of Management and Entrepreneurship Faculty from Indiana University’s
Kelley School of Business. The team conceptualized and delivered the COVID-19 Virtual Idea
Blitz, a three-day event that involved more than 200 individuals from five continents, 10
countries, and many U.S. states. The case study details these efforts in which, over the course of
only seven days, the faculty group coalesced around the idea of rapidly applying the best
entrepreneurial tools and thinking to generate a communal, high-impact response to COVID-19.
Integrating principles and methodologies from design sprints (Knapp, Zeratsky, & Kowitz,
2016), startup weekends (Nager, Nelson, & Nouyrigat, 2011) and hackathons (Briscoe, 2014;
Komssi, Pichlis, Raatikainen, Kindström, & Järvinen, 2014; Trainer, Kalyanasundaram,
Chaihirunkarn, & Herbsleb, 2016). This rapid collective response to COVID-19 was among the
first of scores of similar events that later emerged in response to this societal grand challenge.
Online details related to the initiative and format of a Virtual Idea Blitza novel idea development tool that
emerged from this initiativeare available at
To understand more fully such collective, emergent responses, we rely on an “extreme
case study that demonstrates in detail a number of organizing principles being applied in a novel
context. Extreme cases “often reveal more information because they activate more actors and
more basic mechanisms in the situation studied” (Flyvbjerg, 2006, p. 229). First, the organizing
team, comprised of a small group of faculty, initiated this project in hopes of alleviating
suffering and having a positive social impactconsistent with research on compassionate post-
crisis organizing (Dutton, Worline, Frost, & Lilius, 2006; Williams & Shepherd, 2018) and
social entrepreneurship in the face of grand challenges (Bacq & Aguilera, 2019). Second, the
team drew upon existing resources (e.g., expertise, social networks) to bring a novel program to
market for a set of stakeholders who were not perfectly definable at the outset of the initial
efforts. These efforts are representative of entrepreneurial hustledefined as urgent, unorthodox
actions that are intended to be useful in addressing immediate challenges and opportunities under
conditions of uncertainty (Fisher, Stevenson, Burnell, Neubert, & Kuratko, 2020). Exploring in
real time the efforts to launch the Virtual Idea Blitz, this study seeks to answer two questions: 1)
what organizing principles enabled the Kelley School faculty to respond so rapidly to the
unprecedented crisis and, 2) how might this approach be replicated in addressing the ongoing
challenges imposed by the COVID-19 virus, as well as other societal grand challenges?
We answer these questions in three specific ways. First, we explore the Kelley School’s
Virtual Idea Blitz as a case study of how faculty members organized resources, identified
relevant skills, and deployed the Virtual Idea Blitz to accelerate efforts by individuals and
communities seeking to pursue social entrepreneurial initiatives. We provide a chronological
overview to shed light on the organizing principles as well as the idiosyncratic features that
enabled the Kelley School’s faculty to respond to the emerging crisis in a timely and impactful
manner. Second, we provide evidence of value creation both for participants and the targets of
the social initiatives that emerged from the Virtual Idea Blitz; these outcomes included a
successful digital innovation, virtual community building anchored in a strong sense of collective
purpose, and the rapid prototyping, emergence and operation of a number of the ventures. Third,
we provide details of the event in hopes of spurring other organizing groups, whether academic,
community or professional, to similarly take action to address this multifaceted crisis or other
current societal grand challenges by coalescing entrepreneurially-minded communities. Finally,
we discuss practical implications of the COVID-19 Virtual Idea Blitz.
2.1. Chronological Overview of an Emergent Response to an Unprecedented Challenge
In March 2020, the world was grinding to a halt as a new virus, for which there was no
known cure, was spreading rapidly. Though at that point in time, total fatalities were only
approaching 100 in the United States (U.S.), the pandemic had killed at least 3,000 in China
(according to Chinese Government reports) and was resulting in hundreds of deaths per day in
Italy. It was becoming increasingly likely that many European countries and the U.S. were only
days or weeks behind other countries in experiencing a similar exponential infection rate. Thus,
the COVID-19 crisis had quickly become an unprecedented grand challenge that created many
social, health, and economic problems on a global scale (Gates, 2020). These problems
overwhelmed existing healthcare and governmental organizations, which elicited the need for
independent, social entrepreneurial venturesorganizing efforts centered on opportunities
aiming at social value creation (Bacq & Janssen, 2011)to participate in a large-scale response.
In light of these alarming and rapidly evolving events, one Kelley School faculty member
began considering if/how he and fellow faculty in the Kelley School of Business, Management
and Entrepreneurship Department could facilitateif not leadefforts to respond to the
COVID-19 situation. Specifically, this individual took stock of his prior experience accelerating
entrepreneurial startups, and other skillsets in the Department (leading week-long “live” case
analyses, facilitating social entrepreneurship, conducting design sprints), and determined there
was an opportunity to make a difference by organizing a virtual, idea acceleration project. On
March 16th, 2020, the concept was framed in the first internal discussions as follows:
a rapid entrepreneurship accelerator and matchmaking program that brings together
students, faculty and alums to generate ideas and build solutions related to issues that have
arisen due to COVID-19 (could include tech applications, social distancing
products/service, remote working, repurposing of facilities/resources).
This concept of a virtual effort to identify, accelerate and prototype ideas addressing
problems resulting from COVID-19 was shared by email on a Monday night by the faculty
initiator with a small group of colleagues. The initiator distributed a low-fidelity sketch of what
the landing page for the initiative could look like and confirmed initial interest from a small
group of student entrepreneurs. The email also specified a clear call to action for those who
wanted to get involved to adapt, and potentially execute on, the idea (a copy of the initial email
appears in Appendix I). The initiator also reached out to groups and individuals who could serve
as “supporters of scale,” that is, individuals who had the experience or financial capacity to fund
or carry on with viable solutions that may come out of this initiative.
The next day (Tuesday), a group of seven Management and Entrepreneurship faculty
gathered on a Zoom video conference to discuss what might be done as a collective. After a brief
discussion, and given the escalating urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was decided to
immediately pursue launching the Virtual Idea Blitz and to run it over the upcoming weekend.
The group also surmised that, unlike traditional programming that typically require extensive
course planning and several stages of committee reviews, the urgency of the situation required
rapid and unorthodox actions in order to address the immediate challenges of the crisis,
reminiscent of entrepreneurial hustle (Fisher et al., 2020).
Following this Tuesday morning meeting, the organizing team began to develop the
schedule and explanatory material to add to the landing page ( The team
executed several intense days of logistics, content preparation, and promotion. First, they drafted
a Call to Action to solicit ideas and program participants (see Appendix V). The organizers
dedicated a significant portion of their time before the event began, agreeing in principle to
themes and key principles to focus on during the workshops. They agreed to begin advertising
the event on professional and social media on Wednesday evening. This timeline allowed only
48 hours to garner ideas and recruit participants for the event to start on Friday at 5:30pm.
2.2. Objective, Assumptions and Hopes for the COVID-19 Virtual Idea Blitz
The overall objective for Virtual Idea Blitz was to surface and prototype high-potential,
high-impact ideas that would help navigate and solve many of the challenges caused by COVID-
19. The organizing faculty team also hoped to enhance the overall impact by encouraging teams
to implement viable ideas and to publicize prototypes to attract further development by
individuals or organizations with relevant expertise. The organizing team’s assumption was that,
at a minimum, the local student community would desire to “do something” in response to the
many challenges caused by the rapid spread of the coronavirus, and that students would therefore
be willing to assist, perhaps applying skills such as coding, website creation, design, and social
media marketing to communicate and prototype ideas. The organizing team hoped that by
actively encouraging current and past students, they could identify at least 50 participants.
However, there was some uncertainty regarding participant response as the launch date fell
on the closing weekend of the university’s official spring break and all students had recently and
unexpectedly been notified that they would need to move out of the dorms and begin virtual
classes. Partly to address any potential shortfall in student response and to obtain participants
with greater professional experience, the team decided to launch the project as an open call,
soliciting ideas and participation beyond the student body. The level of interest exceeded
expectations: engagement snowballed quickly, with 95 proposed ideas in the 48-hour window,
and more than 200 highly qualified individuals from around the world indicating their interest in
participating through the website portal. The breakdown of participants was, approximately, 17%
residential MBA students, 18% Kelley Direct MBA students, 21% Indiana University
undergraduate students, 10% Indiana University staff and faculty, and the rest (approximately
34%) had no direct affiliation with Indiana University. All participated on a voluntary basis; no
compensation or course credit was offered.
2.3. Foundations of a Virtual Idea Blitz: A Tool for Rapidly Stimulating Innovation
Based on the diverse experiences and expertise of the organizing faculty team, the Virtual
Idea Blitz concept emerged as a marriage between three distinct approaches that have been
widely used by many to accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship in compressed time
windows. These include design sprints, startup weekends, and hackathons.
First, the Virtual Idea Blitz anchored much of the conceptual grounding and frameworks
provided to the participants in the design sprint methodology popularized by Knapp and
colleagues at Google Ventures (Knapp, Zeratsky, & Kowitz, 2016). A “standard” design sprint is
traditionally conducted over a period of five days, which seeks to minimize the time required to
solve critical business questions, and dramatically decreases the time required to validate (and
then implement) an idea. Design sprints are traditionally held in-person, as they require extensive
uninterrupted collaboration between a team, usually of seven to eight handpicked individuals
who bring different skillsets to bear. This five-phase design sprint process draws upon principles
of business strategy, innovation, and consumer behavior, with an overarching goal of solving big
issues quickly to avoid idea churn and reduce risks when bringing a new product, service or a
feature to the market. Sprints have successfully been applied by organizations including LEGO,
Lufthansa, Slack, the United Nations, Prudential Insurance, The British Museum, ThankYou,
among others. Importantly, previous efforts had demonstrated that the design sprint process is
highly malleable; for instance others have previously adjusted the timeline from a five-day
process to a three-day process. Further, this process is currently taught to Kelley MBA students
in the course of a 7-week class by one of the organizing members.
With some similar elementsyet typically used to launch new organizations rather than
advance existing ones, a startup weekend is an event during which individuals form teams to
develop an entrepreneurial idea as much as they can within a single weekend (Nager, Nelsen, &
Nouyrigat, 2011). In-person startup weekends date back to at least 2007 and have been pioneered
and popularized by groups such as Techstars Startup Weekend and 3 Day Startup.
Finally, hackathons, a merging of words to indicate exploratory solutions and an intense
event (Briscoe, 2014), are an even longer-running approach, particularly prevalent in technical
communities, for instance, among programmers. With events dating back to 1999 (see, the goal of a hackathon is to create, in small teams, a
working software prototype from a brief, continuous working period of time, potentially through
the night (Komssi et al., 2014). Generally, hackathons may help otherwise geographically
dispersed individuals to come together for a brief period of time, therefore providing important
community-building benefits in addition to seeking solutions to the specified problem (Trainer et
al., 2016). Hackathons are a regular occurrence within many technology-focused companies. For
instance, one Facebook vice president Deb Liu said, In two days, what can you convince people
to be excited about? (Weinberger, 2017) and founder Mark Zuckerberg as described them as a
central element in the company’s culture and history (Mihalcik, 2020).
Drawing on these principles, the COVID-19 Virtual Idea Blitz organizing team made a
number of substantial adjustments to marry the design sprint methodology, startup weekend
objectives and a hackathon approach. The organizing team considered multiple ways to manage
logistics and organize participants by incorporating the best aspects of each of foundational
models. Importantly, adaptations were necessary to transition to a fully virtual environment.
2.4. Structuring for a Virtual Collaborative and Innovative Environment
At the time of launching this event, several U.S. states (and several other countries) were
either requesting or mandating that people shelter in place. Accordingly, it was quickly
concluded that the entirety of the program would need to be completed virtually, with Zoom
video conferencing serving as the primary platform for online collaboration. This constraint was
notable given that the models described above are rarely if ever conducted entirely in a virtual
format (even in virtually-organized events, participating teams would generally be co-located).
Based on the principles of the three foundational models, but reflecting the urgency of this
rapidly organized event, the timeline and structure of the COVID-19 Virtual Idea Blitz was set as
follows (see Appendix II for an elongated schedule):
Tuesday: Formalize organizing team of Management and Entrepreneurship faculty
members and develop a loose strategy for the event.
Wednesday evening: Launch website to solicit ideas from anyone, mostly through social
and professional media platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter); get people to commit to
participate in the weekend (starting with Indiana University students, but open to anyone;
see Appendix V for a sample post).
Thursday: Collect ideas; narrow down ideas to focus on the most exciting and valuable
ideas; assign academic and professional mentors to ideas.
Friday: 5:30pm: Launch the Virtual Idea Blitz with a brief workshop explaining the
process and expectations; participants join a team to discuss pain points and begin to
develop the idea; 9pm: check-in with mentors.
Saturday: 9:30am: Workshop on the sprint concept and idea development processes; teams
continue sprint and work on project throughout the day; 2pm and 7pm: check-ins with
Sunday: 9:30am: Workshop on effective pitching; finalize idea and prototype, create pitch
videos; 5pm: submit pitch video; 9pm; celebratory online get-together.
To run the event virtually, some design sprint and startup weekend components were re-
conceptualized, while other elements were added or removed. For example, the organizers
initiated the identifying of key questions during the orientation meeting on Friday while
grouping participants around common areas of interest, and then began the instruction on
Saturday morning by combining the “sketch” and “decide” stages of the design sprint
methodologywhile also providing guidance for how teams might effectively prototype and test
their ideas. In terms of providing instructional and best-practice content, the faculty decided to
focus on simplicity and, given the difficulty of maintaining participants’ engagement remotely,
to restrict all workshops to a one-hour time limit. While this limited the ability to build shared
practices and understanding among participants, this restriction was important to maximize the
workshopping time available to the teams. To overcome the lack of co-location constraint, the
organizers introduced customized tools using existing platforms (e.g., Google Slides, Google
Sheets) so that teams could replace physical documents and the face-to-face collaboration
available during more traditional design sprint settings. These online extensions of design sprint
methodologies were developed nearly in real-time as the Management and Entrepreneurship
faculty team sought to provide a loose structure that would offer helpful guidelines while not
overly restricting teams already managing extreme organizing constraints.
In addition to limiting the duration of workshop sessions to one-hour, the organizing
faculty team also decided to limit the number of workshops to one per day (Friday, Saturday, and
Sunday). As illustrated above, core elements of the design sprint were incorporated into the
Friday (about 10 minutes) and Saturday (45 minutes) workshops while also providing teams with
additional tools, videos, and pre-recorded material (posted on a shared Dropbox Paper) that they
could reference as the weekend progressed. The workshops also emphasized customized versions
of startup weekend tools, including actively seeking customer feedback and pursuing rapid
prototyping. Finally, drawing on hackathon approaches, the faculty organizers highlighted
examples of quickly getting to a solution by sharing news articles each day highlighting
extraordinary and make-do efforts from around the world to address COVID-19 effects.
Early in the process, the organizers recognized the value of mentors to “fill in the gaps” of
the abbreviated Virtual Idea Blitz instruction and serve as an external (to the team) voice to help
(1) drive decision-making, (2) re-orient teams that were getting distracted, and (3) raise emerging
issues to the organizing team. Similar to their role and purpose during a startup weekend,
mentorsprimarily composed of faculty, doctoral students, and/or industry expertsserved as a
sounding board by answering the teams inquiries, asking challenging questions, and by having
an external eye on the work that teams were developing. Five virtual mentor check-ins were
incorporated into the master schedule (two on Friday, two on Saturday, midday and evening, and
one on Sunday afternoon), though each team could adapt as needed. The mix of academic and
professional mentors was critical and proved instrumental to the success of the initiative.
Mentors help was key for many teams through opening their network and vetting ideas directly
with key professionals in the healthcare, retail, and other relevant industries. The detailed
schedule and program were centralized on a Dropbox Paper webpage (in view only mode for
participants) and the milestones were detailed in an active Google Sheet per team, which all
participants could edit as the membership of their teams evolved and the ideas developed (see
Appendices II and III for screen captures of the Dropbox Paper and Google Sheet).
3.1. Virtual Idea Blitz: An Impactful Digital Innovation
The need to complete the entirety of the program virtually introduced many challenges, but
also some unique opportunities. While design sprints, startup weekend events, and hackathons
may have occurred remotely, these efforts benefited from teams composed of individuals who
already knew each other well, which facilitated the execution of the problem-solving processes
from separate geographies. However, the challenge in the present case was that few if any of the
participants had ever met each other. Furthermore, no two members of the organizing team
would be present in the same room. The organizing faculty team thus sought to adapt existing
processes, but it was unknown whether virtual equivalents would be effective for such a
dispersed set of individuals who did not have the option to meet in the same physical space.
Addressing such an urgent grand challenge required innovation and adaptation to facilitate
participants’ work in a digital environment. Indeed, we found that there were several unique
opportunities arising from the necessity of organizing virtually. First, there was no need to secure
a space to meet, as a result of which no funds nor formal approvals were required. This adaptive
meeting” format created the ability to act swiftly, launching the event in a matter of days rather
than planning it for a future date. Second, hosting the event virtually created the ability to form
teams with participants from across the world. Participants would not have any lodging or travel
costs and did not need time to seek approval or sponsorship from their organizations. Thus, they
could make the decision to participate on short notice. Although individuals from around the
world were dealing with many constraints including new working conditions, school closures,
and mandatory shelter in place orders, it later became apparent that people all around the world
were looking for a positive outlet to channel their energy toward a positive social cause
(consistent with Williams & Shepherd, 2016).
3.2. Virtual Community Building: Generating a Strong Sense of Collective Purpose
The organizers primarily focused on the potential benefit of identifying and accelerating
the development of ideas to urgently address a societal grand challenge. However, an unexpected
outcome from the program was the emergence of a strong sense of community among
participants in the Virtual Idea Blitz (Feld, 2012). While such feelings of community can be
common after individuals work together for an extended period of time, most of such events to-
date have occurred in in-person settings. Initially, the schedule for the weekend planned for the
concluding event to involve the submission of ideas to potential investors. The rationale for this
approach was that the organizers were cognizant of (1) the time constraints of all participants
who were volunteering their time, (2) the ongoing challenges participants faced both
professionally and personally due to COVID-19 lockdown orders, and (3) the outstanding
commitments participants had beyond launching a new venture over the weekend! As such, the
organizers initially assumed it was important to have a prompt and efficient wrap-up that would
allow people return to their personal and professional commitments.
However, as the Virtual Idea Blitz progressed, a discussion occurred amongst the
organizers as to how they could make this virtual event as much like an in-person event as
possible and, therefore, one of the organizers proposed to add a virtual closing reception to the
schedule for 9pm on the final day, indicating that attendees should “bring your own drinks, your
own food and your own chair.” At 9pm, more than 100 participants (who had already been
working nearly around the clock for the prior two days) gathered on Zoom to unwind and share
their sense of fulfillment through the work collectively accomplished over the weekend. During
that virtual party, the strong sense of community that had emerged and then solidified among
participants over a single weekend of collective social entrepreneurial action was evidenced by
the unprompted and unplanned testimonials shared by numerous participants (see Appendix V
for a screen capture). The testimonials captured manifestations of that strong sense of
community—that is, “a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to
one another and to the group” (Feld, 2012), which appeared to provide an important benefit to
participants who themselves had been struggling with the devastating consequences of the
COVID-19 outbreak. For instance, one participant summarized:
You know, as of Friday at five, we were all strangers that were assigned together in a
group. And it was pretty, pretty crazy to see everybody coming together for one mission...
This is probably one of the best group experiences I’ve ever had personally and shout out
to my team ten and our amazing experience, I think we’ve got a lifelong friendship ...”
Similarly, another individual explained: “this has been so helpful … up until this point I would
awake every morning and review the latest infection/death counts on Johns Hopkins website …
this gave me meaning and purpose as I haven’t checked the Johns Hopkins case numbers in
three days!” Such a strong sense of collective purpose, though established only via virtual
interactions, led to intense emotional reactions. As mentioned in the previous quote, many
discussed how it was a departure away from the daily pattern of reading discouraging news as
the pandemic spread. The outpourings largely could be positioned into participant hope,
connection, purpose, and gratitude. Some of these example comments that were captured in the
Sunday night celebration are:
“Super happy to be involved in something that’s taking the initiative to be involved in
positive change.”
“Putting a skillset and a passion and a drive into something that can make a difference
has been a really unique and a really valuable experience. I’ve learned a lot.”
“I feel good.
“Thank you for encouraging me.”
For others, it was a learning opportunity:
Im glad I was able to make a small contribution to this great effort. For me personally,
this experience was something I was missing from my MBA education. You guys provided
me a perfect opportunity to learn this. Thank you very much.
3.3. Project Outcomes of the Virtual Idea Blitz
The Virtual Idea Blitz was focused on unearthing and then accelerating ideas to combat the
negative repercussions of COVID-19. That is, the objective was to facilitate the emergence of
independent teams capable of developing ideas into prototypes that could be implemented to
make a significant social impact. Indeed, this was the primary driver behind the decision to (1)
help cultivate a systematic idea development process, and then (2) provide independent teams
with an opportunity to present their ideas and prototypes to those with resources to financially
back their initiatives. We realized early on that we did not have the capacity or desire to manage
individual venturesour skill set was best positioned to serve as an accelerant to the diverse and
novel skillsets of teams who participated in the Virtual Idea Blitz. For these reasons we did not
specifically quantify the “social impact” of each venture; however, we have taken several steps
to document and evaluate the outcomes of the Virtual Idea Blitz as a whole.
First, we have tracked the outcomes of teams that remained active following the conclusion
of the Virtual Idea Blitz. For instance, one of the participating teams, #RealHereosNeedMasks,
has partnered with celebrities, athletes, and key influencers from around the globe to launch a
social media campaign to raise awareness about PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) shortages
and mobilize public action to get desperately needed PPE into the hands of those who need it
mostfront line healthcare professionals who are the real heroes.” In a span of three weeks
following the Virtual Idea Blitz, the Real Heroes Need Masks team facilitated the donation of
over 21,000 masks (see Appendix III for a screen capture of some of the successes of
#RealHeroesNeedMasks). Similarly, another team, ReScaleMed (,
has partnered with volunteer critical care specialists, doctors, and medical device technologists to
beat COVID-19 by increasing the number of medical personnel available to set up ventilators
and manage patients on ventilators. They are currently curating key training medical content to
quickly scale available frontline medical resources worldwide. Furthermore, there continue to be
ongoing efforts from a number of other teams seeking to scale their efforts to have the maximum
impact; other ideas have been terminated.
Second, we have also collected and examined evidence that the participating teams were
chasing the “right” problems and generating ideas that will hopefully be continued to be
While not all ideas were ultimately taken to market (or are still in the process of seeking backing), we still view
this as a major success. One of the key objectives of design sprints is to vet ideas in a rapid way to avoid wasting
resources on ideas that might not work. That is, it is better to learn that an idea is not feasible (in a short period of
time) rather than spend significant resources on an idea that s hould not be pursued. Therefore, the raising of an idea
that was ultimately terminated is a success in that critical, limited resources were not wasted (see Knapp et al.,
addressed by us and others. For example, Dyson has designed a new ventilator and is planning to
build 15,000 of them; GE Healthcare in Madison, WI is on a hiring surge for more ventilator
assemblers (
deck-volunteers-rush-in-to-support-24-7-production-of-ventilators-in-wisconsin/amp/); New
York is allowing multiple patients on a vent (
ventilator-splitting-allowing-hospitals-treat-patients/story?id=69816167); Apple has provided
support for teachers moving to virtual teaching (
staff-educators-will-guide-teachers-through-challenges-of-online-learning/); steps have been
taken to help the elderly; interventions have been taken to address the increased risk of domestic
abuse (
violence). In sum, many of the initiatives being pursued by private-public partnerships are
seeking to address the core challenges we raised in our Virtual Idea Blitz, suggesting that the
teams were coalescing around some of the most pressing issues related to COVID-19. While the
most important priorities will (and should) evolve with changing needs as the crisis unfolds
(Williams, Gruber, Sutcliffe, Shepherd, & Zhao, 2017; Williams & Shepherd, 2018), we remain
confident that the Virtual Idea Blitz was an effective organizing mechanism for identifying and
minimizing the most relevant challenges in the moment.
Finally, we have tracked evidence for the success of the event itself in achieving its specific
goals of organizing individuals to generate actionable ideas that would bring about social change
and alleviate suffering. We found that the event has been replicated by some initial participants
and by other actors, though we expect some of these were developed independently, without
knowledge of this particular Virtual Idea Blitz (e.g., Techstars Startup Weekendwith whom we
communicated at the launch of our eventshas launched a series of virtual events for the first
time; for a list, see Yet, several higher education
institutions, including University of Cambridge, California State Polytechnic University, and
Valdosa State University, have reached out to the organizing team seeking guidance on how to
organize a similar Virtual Idea Blitz. Similarly, incubators and accelerators such as Gener8tor
and Entrepreneur Ready have launched their own programs with awareness of our efforts and/or
directly by our participants and mentors.
4.1. Virtual Idea Blitz as a Tool for Rapidly Stimulating Innovation
As described above, the Virtual Idea Blitz concept integrates aspects and principles of a
design sprint, a startup weekend, and a hackathon. We anticipate that the Virtual Idea Blitz tool
will continue to be employed in a variety of contexts. For example, one result of COVID-19 is
that mass migration of traditional, in-person courses to an online format. We anticipate that the
concepts developed here could be applied in this new context. Indeed, one member of the
organizing team is doing this right nowteaching an online version of a design sprint to the
Kelley School of Business in-residence MBAs. In addition, faculty could replicate and adapt this
concept as a capstone of an online course on entrepreneurship, innovation or design. Finally, we
anticipate a wide range of scenarios of Virtual Idea Blitz applications where traditional
innovation collaborations are no longer available (e.g., in-person hackathons, startup weekends).
Given its goal to move from idea to MVP (i.e., minimum viable product) as rapidly as possible,
the Virtual Idea Blitz concept we developed has application potential in innovation efforts in
education, industry, and beyond.
4.2. Entrepreneurial Hustle: A Necessary Ingredient for Leadership in Extreme Contexts
Delivering this event required the organizers to act under conditions of uncertainty with
resource constraints to bring a novel program to market for a set of stakeholders who were not
perfectly identifiable at the outset of the initial efforts. This type of action under uncertainty has
recently been presented in the literature as a distinct construct as “entrepreneurial hustle” (Fisher
et al., 2020). Fisher and colleagues (2020) define entrepreneurial hustle as an entrepreneur’s
urgent, unorthodox actions that are intended to be useful in addressing immediate challenges and
opportunities under conditions of uncertainty. Their study indicates that such behaviors are
actually quite common in startup organizations and are necessary but not-sufficient foundational
behaviors that are critical to entrepreneurial success. Similarly, prior leadership research has
identified that undertaking unorthodox actions to address emergent challenges may be
appropriate in extreme conditions or crisis responses (e.g., natural disasters or war zones;
Hannah, Uhl-Bien, Avolio, & Cavarretta, 2009; Reid, Anglin, Baur, Short, & Buckley, 2018).
Entrepreneurial hustle behaviors were evident in both the organizing and executional aspects of
the planning team and also within each of the idea teams that took part in the Virtual Idea Blitz.
Inherent to such behaviors is rapid decision-making. Our findings suggest a number of important
practical questions organizations might consider: How do we encourage entrepreneurial hustle in
times of crisis rather than force things from the top down?” How might we enable actors within
our organization to take action building on their unique strengths rather than requiring actors to
follow a “playbook” provided by corporate officers? How can entrepreneurial actors
communicate their ability to hustle in responding to emergent customer needs and/or market
4.3. Practical Reflections: Strengths, Weaknesses and Lessons Learned
In terms of strengths, the dramatic nature of COVID-19 instigated an immediate need for
an initiative that could rapidly lead to desired outcomes. As detailed in this article, the idea was
conceived on a Monday and the program commenced merely four days later. Against the
challenging backdrop of a global pandemic, the Virtual Idea Blitz was able to draw on the
prosocial motives of participants from disparate groups with complementary skills. The core
motivation of all participants was to develop an idea to help resolve a social issue related to
COVID-19. Despite the short recruitment window (48 hours), the weekend successfully gathered
multiple audiences across academic, student, professional and funder groups. The lockdowns and
stay-at-home orders created for some participants the flexibility to dedicate a short, concentrated
burst of time that would ordinarily not have been available (though these orders may have
limited time for others, for instance, due to children not being in school). They also eliminated
the prospect of meeting in person and allowed for a collective embracing of a shared virtual
mindset that may not have been possible if the event had been organized under previous
Another strength originated from the institutional resources and competencies at Indiana
University. While recruiting and coordinating the involvement of diverse participant and
stakeholder groups was daunting, the organizing faculty team was able to creatively leverage
several internal resources and competencies. Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business has
a long history of entrepreneurship education, emanating out of the Johnson Center for
Entrepreneurship, led by Dr. Donald Kuratko (“Dr. K), the Jack M. Gill Distinguished Chair of
Entrepreneurship. A 12-year review of academic entrepreneurship research designed to identify
leading scholars and universities ranked Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business as
having the greatest impact on the field of entrepreneurship (Xu, Chen, Fung, & Chan, 2018). A
sample of the portfolio of innovative programs presently offered include: the Clapp Idea
Competitiona campus-wide idea competition which solicits novel ideas from across the
campus, the “Spine Sweat” course—a semester-long effort to develop promising ventures and
concludes with pitches to venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, and several other notable co-
curricular entrepreneurship programs. Further, a number of faculty members in the Department
are regularly involved in running a residential week-long program called Kelley Connect Week
for its online MBA program, Kelley Direct. Kelley Direct has a long tenure of innovative online
delivery and is ranked as the #1 online MBA program in the world (U.S. News & World Report,
2020). Thus, while organized quickly, the vision was that this program would draw on the
Department’s existing strengths in entrepreneurship education, and online education expertise.
In terms of weaknesses, we acknowledge a number of weaknesses and areas where things
might need to be done differently. First, the relative instantaneous reaction by the organizing
team has been cited as a strength. However, the organizing team acknowledges that more time
would have allowed for more effective coordination of coaches, mentors, and seminar leads.
Second, the online portal allowed anyone to sign up with minimal barriers. As a result, many of
the idea submitters were not screened in depth for their understanding of or level of commitment
to the multi-day event, nor their ability to meaningfully contribute to an entrepreneurially-
minded team. Because registration was left open and the time window was short, teams were
formed based on interest and not based on the cross-functional backgrounds of team members.
Therefore, a registration cut-off and more time would allow organizers to dedicate more strategic
consideration to assigning teams in a way that could increase their effectiveness. Some similar
events incorporate a competitive element, including announcing winners and providing prizes or
funding at the conclusion of the event. This could provide teams with legitimacy when pursuing
their ideas further. The organizing team, however, explicitly decided not to employ a competitive
design due to the collective desire to see social solutions emerge and to avoid ending the event
with any feelings of disappointment that participants who did not “win” might feel. However,
this was a difficult decision, as the organizing team also recognizes the potential benefits to team
members’ motivation and commitment if a competitive element is involved. Future organizers
should particularly consider these trade-offs if implementing a Virtual Idea Blitz, particularly in
other contexts where there are lower levels of intrinsic alignment.
Finally, although most of the idea leads performed spectacularly well, the selection of these
leads was predominantly based on their idea submission and not any other leadership
characteristics or professional experience. In some instances, the idea leads did not have the
skills of a manager/entrepreneur to motivate and direct the rest of the team and/or had little
experience managing team members’ with substantially more overall experience or topic-specific
knowledge. Future events may benefit from a more deliberate process of evaluating and
assessing the leadership capabilities of the group prior to assigning an idea lead. Another
possibility would be to separate the role of idea lead from the role of team leader, which could be
assigned separately in advance or even elected by the team following the first meeting.
While the COVID-19 Virtual Idea Blitz is a unique response to an unprecedented grand
challenge, the results of the event suggest transferability of the concept to a number of different
contexts. We discuss some general guidelines that may orient the efforts of others who would
like to replicate, extend and/or implement a similar concept at their institution or organization.
5.1. Before the Idea Blitz
A series of discrete steps were taken in the days preceding the Virtual Idea Blitz that now,
in retrospect, appear to have been critical to the successful implementation of the initiative.
These steps included establishing 1) a Champion and an organizing team comprised of advocates
to energize different stakeholder groups; 2) a portal to direct interest of any interested parties; 3)
a rapid and realistic outreach strategy; and 4) a strategy to sort and prioritize ideas submitted by
participants and to select “idea leads. The first step was taken by the Champion, who initiated
the idea and then gathered a set of like-minded advocates who became the organizing team.”
Together, the Champion and the emergent organizing team energized different stakeholder
groups to bring them on board to the project. In this case, the Champion issued a call to action to
other motivated members of the department while simultaneously building a coalition of external
supporters composed of well-respected and influential business professionals.
Second, a portal was established to collect information from potential participants. The
portal allowed for two different paths, one for those who had an idea or had identified a pain
point, and a second path for those who wished to be involved as a team member, a mentor or a
funder. The portal and the respective paths were created in Qualtrics as a survey with
idiosyncratic question sets contingent on the self-identified path (see Appendix IV for a screen
capture of landing page). Third, due to the short timeline and unknown circumstances regarding
participation and scale, the organizing faculty team decided to recruit participants exclusively by
publicizing the event on the organizing team’s professional and social networks.
Fourth, three members of the organizing team met virtually for approximately four hours to
narrow the scope of the Virtual Idea Blitz to the most promising ideas. A key dilemma to be
addressed was minimizing the possibility that those who had submitted ideas would not
participate if their own idea was not selected, while seeking to identify the highest impact ideas
that should be the focus of those participating. The organizing team sought to balance this
dilemma by abductively identifying key themes from the submissions in order to systematically
generate an organizing framework (consistent with best practices in qualitative research methods
[Corbin & Strauss, 2015]). Ultimately, the organizing team selected five overarching idea themes
to organize the 95 submitted ideas or pain points and selected 11 general ideas that fit into these
themes. For each idea, one to three idea leads were identified (that is, the individual/s who had
submitted a pertinent idea) and notified that they had been given the opportunity to share their
idea with a working team. Idea leads were also notified that they were welcome to invite other
colleagues or friends to enroll in the weekend to assist, which enabled the Virtual Idea Blitz to
have a core group of “idea evangelists” that were bought in from the very start.
5.2. During the Idea Blitz
There were several essential components to effective execution of the Virtual Idea Blitz.
First, the kickoff meeting is of the utmost importance in aligning and orienting diverse
stakeholders to the shared objectives of the Virtual Idea Blitz. Knowing that as many as 200
individuals would attend the kickoff on a Friday night of their own volition, the organizing team
wanted the kickoff meeting to generate excitement and energy to preserve the participation of as
many participants as possible. Thus, the organizing team instilled a number of guiding principles
to demonstrate focus and cohesion all kickoff presentations centered around a clear call to action
regarding responding to the multiple salient problems created by the crisis.
Second, outcomes and goals were stressed heavily and included a set of minimum
outcomes: (1) to be able to do some good… right now, and alleviate feelings of helplessness; (2)
to socialize, work and develop a group of new colleagues/friends/mentors (i.e., to reduce the
impact of social distancing); (3) to learn some entrepreneurial tools and techniques from some of
the world’s best faculty in the discipline; (4) to understand what an idea blitz is and develop an
idea to MVP in two days; and (5) to develop a video startup pitch by Sunday with a group of
highly motivated people. There was also a set of “gold standard” or aspiration outcomes
discussed. These included the potential to get funding for an idea, the potential to enlist
innovation partners to further develop a concept past the weekend (e.g., innovation centers,
incubators, accelerators), and the potential to scale an idea without constraints. Allied to the call
to action, structure and outcomes discussion, the presenters delivered two brief 20-minute
seminars on relevant topics.
Third, clear timelines and milestones were established to ensure teams were advancing
their ideas appropriately and to allow mentors to intervene if/as necessary. Specifically, the
organizing team designed the overall Virtual Idea Blitz process to align with the approach of
creating a vision of synchronized clock time (Saunders, Van Slyke, & Vogel, 2004), providing
structure and time pressure to help motivate teams to achieve certain steps as they moved
through the Virtual Idea Blitz (consistent with Knapp et al., 2016). Most teams had two academic
mentors and two industry/professional mentorsthese consisted of volunteers who wished to
add their expertise to the weekend and were primarily angel investors, venture capitalists, or
individuals with experience in accelerators. Fourth, the importance of an editable document for
participants to regularly update their progress was also deemed important. This was
implementing using a Google Sheet where each team had their own tab (aligned with their team
number and name). Navigating through each team’s spreadsheet allowed the organizing team to
see idea pivots, and also allowed latecomers to catch up on materials information that they
potentially had missed.
5.3. After the Virtual Idea Blitz
The organizers decided to have a virtual celebration that would take place at 9pm on
Sunday evening, after the Virtual Idea Blitz officially concluded. The organizing team developed
several items to feature during the celebration including a website with all teams’ video pitches,
edited to include a standardized intro and outro slide with music, a “highlight reel video
recapping the weekend and including brief clips from several of the teams’ pitches, and
recognition of individuals who were not part of the organizing team but played important
supporting roles over the course of the weekend. Upon conclusion of the event, publicizing the
ideas and prototypes was identified as a key action to take. The purpose of publicizing the ideas
and prototypes is two-fold. First, this publicity can help attract new team members or critical
support (e.g., technical skills) to the teams who elected to implement their prototype, possibly
contributing to execute the idea more rapidly or at greater scale. Second, it can also help attract
funding. This focus on disseminating ideas that could create social value was a key distinction
compared to events which may prioritize commercialization and protection of intellectual
property. Appendix VI provides details and screenshots of these publication efforts.
Finally, the organizing team committed to maintaining momentum with mentors and other
supporters after the fact. There were more than 40 volunteer mentors that were engaged all
weekend and each leveraged their extensive networks and skills that could not only benefit the
team they were mentoring for but also the other 20 teams. Thus, at times, mentors called on other
mentors for support, either to join the conversation with another team or to help disseminate
surveys or identify important professional contacts.
The emergence of COVID-19 can be considered a black swan-type event, a rare event
with extreme consequences for people and organizations that is difficult to predict using typical
models (Taleb, 2007). While pandemic threats will hopefully receive greater attention, scenario
planning and more rapid mitigation going forward, this article is intended to help
entrepreneurship, management, and business scholars and practitioners to collectively consider
how we can draw on our research expertise to stimulate community responses to a variety of
acute and more chronic societal grand challenges facing our world (George et al., 2016). Our
experience suggests that universities can play a valuable role in linking professionals, students
and research in shared endeavors that have the potential for substantial societal benefits. This
article describes how such efforts can be rapidly mobilized and lead to high-impact results. In
recounting this experience, describing the integrative and community-building approach, and
providing a detailed description of specific actions and tools, we hope to encourage and inspire
other organizers, provide them with a guide to accelerate their efforts, and detail shortcomings
they might avoid. As we write this, we remain unsure of the final health consequences and
economic loss that will result from COVID-19. However, we hope that other organizers,
including professors, professionals, and students, can use this article to stimulate their own
progress in tackling the evolving challenges posed by this pandemic and/or the many other
societal grand challenges.
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Appendix I: Initial Email
Subject: Your input - COVID-19 Social Entrepreneurship Initiative (later renamed “Virtual Idea Blitz:)
I've been trying to brainstorm a social entrepreneurship initiative that we could lead in response to the COVID-19
situation. Essentially what I’ve come up with is facilitating a rapid entrepreneurship accelerator and matchmaking
program that brings together students faculty and alums to generate ideas and build solutions related to issues that
have arisen due to COVID-19 (could include tech applications, social distancing products/service, remote working,
repurposing of facilities/resources-see link below). Think of it like a digital startup weekend focused on entirely on
COVID-19 solutions of all types (note: this was later renamed a “Virtual Idea Blitz”).
I have sketched this as a landing page/place to save ideasstill fine tuning (see here). This program would draw on
our entrepreneurial toolkit and workshop strengths. The goal would be to move ideas into the prototype stage
I’ve vetted the concept with some student entrepreneurs who have tech/coding skills and they have interest in
participating. In general they believe other students would rally to assist in any way they can (e.g., design, web,
social media marketing, etc.). I also have some initial interest from groups and individuals that would want to
fund/support viable solutions that may come out of this initiative. Beyond that, I think that our alumni and
community would quickly rally to support any viable initiatives that emerge.
Please share thoughts/concerns via email if you have any. If this is something you want to participate in please let
me know if you can jump on a zoom call at 10:00 am tomorrow to discuss/vet/adapt this concept.
Appendix II: Full Schedule
5:30 - 6:30 PM
Kickoff Meeting & Workshop #1: Social Value & Idea Sprint Principals
All participants join session to receive instructions and overview
ON ZOOM - zoom link here
Welcome & Idea Blitz Overview - led by Regan Stevenson
Situation/Case Overview - led by Matt Josefy
Creating Social Value - led by Sophie Bacq
Idea Sprint Principals - led by Trent Williams
6:30 - 7:00 PM
Breakout Instructions: Team Assignments, Mentors & Introductions
All participants join session to receive instructions
Led by Will Geoghegan
Teams have been identified according to complimentary skill sets, problem
category, and the choice they made earlier about the idea they would like
to work on. Each team has an assigned team/idea number and a series of
mentors to assist them in developing their idea throughout the weekend (see the
Teams, Coaches & Mentors” table below).
Breakout Process:
When instructed, participants and mentors accept the breakout room of
the team number they have been assigned.
After brief team introductions, the mentors will help teams develop their
own system of online communication and workflow, including setting
up an independent Zoom link hosted by the team lead. This Zoom link
will also be shared with the mentor for later check in’s (e.g., @ 9:00
Once the independent link is established and shared, teams will leave
the call and join theirindependent” Zoom calls to start the event.
7:00 - 7:30 PM
Optional Break We suggest you eat something!
7:30 PM -
Team Working Session #1: Research on pains/solutions in other locations,
ideation, map MVP, identify customers and weekend deliverables.
9:00 PM
Mentor Check In #1: Each team consults with assigned mentors on Zoom.
9:30 - 10:30
Workshop #2: Customer Validation, Prototyping
Led by Trent Williams
Team Working Session #2: Refine MVP concept, start building
12:30 - 1:00
Optional Break - Eat some lunch.
1:00 - 2:00 PM
Mentor Check In #2: Each team consults with assigned mentors on Zoom.
2:00 - 7:00 PM
Team Working Session #3: Pain-Product validation, iteration, keep building
5:00 - 6:00 PM
Optional Break - Virtual dinner anyone?
7:00 PM
Mentor Check In #3: Each team consults with assigned mentors on Zoom.
8:00 PM - Flex
Team Working Session #4: Finalize MVP, Discuss Business Model (if
applicable) and begin mapping out the structure of the pitch
9:30 -
10:30 AM
Workshop #3: Effective Pitches
Led by Greg Fisher
10:30 -
2:00 PM
Team Working Session #5: Continue to validate and iterate, work on pitch
Optional Break Eat some lunch
2:00 PM
Mentor Check In #4: Each team consults with assigned mentors on Zoom.
3:00 - 5:00
Team Working Session #6: Finalize presentation
5:00 PM
Teams record and submit their final presentations
9:00 PM
Optional Virtual Reception
(Bring Your Own Drinks. And Your Own Food. And Your Own Chair)
Join us to look at some highlights of our collective efforts and to give us a
chance to thank you for your investment in this initiative.
zoom link here
Appendix III: Screen Captures of some of the Successes of one of the teams
Appendix IV: Qualtrics Landing Page
Original landing page
Current webpage
Appendix V: Screen Captures of the Call to Action on LinkedIn
Appendix VI: Posts detailing the outcomes and celebration event
Upon conclusion of the event, publicizing the ideas and prototypes was identified as a key action to take
in order to help attract new team members or critical support (e.g., technical skills) for implementation of
prototypes and to help attract funding. Specific publicizing efforts included:
All members of the organizing team shared summaries of the event and its outcomes on LinkedIn,
posting links to the website and sharing posts by participant teams that often linked directly to their
team’s video. In addition, a LinkedIn post with a screenshot of the final reception, showing dozens
of participants on the video call (see Appendix VII for a screen capture of this post) was shared by
each member of the organizing team (and in turn, reposted by dozens of others who had been
involved in the project).
One participant offered to write a blog post to be shared on her department’s website. The
organizing team supported this effort by supplying quotes and photographs.
Progress and updates were shared regularly with the Indiana University and Kelley School Media
teams so that they could draft a press release for dissemination.
The organizing team hired a video editor to create a 10-minute highlight reel of the weekend for
participants and a second shorter 4-minute promotional video to be added to the main website.
... Further, exploring the government's part in both the facilitation and inhibition of social entrepreneurship can guide the drafting of effective policies and interventions to enhance the former role while reducing bureaucratic and other barriers associated with the government machinery. Many studies, including Kamran et al. (2022), Bacq et al. (2020), and others [6,15], have investigated the role of social entrepreneurship in assisting the government during times of social distancing. However, the role of government in influencing social entrepreneurship ventures during the COVID-19 pandemic has not been sufficiently addressed in the scholarly literature, as asserted by many studies [16][17][18][19][20]. ...
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COVID-19 established the need for even more social entrepreneurship globally. It is important for keeping society together in times of crises because it creates an environment that improves the quality of life during hard times and public health emergencies such as COVID-19. Even though it plays a unique role in returning things back to normal after a crisis, it faces opposition from many parts of society, especially the government. Still, there are not many studies that look at what the government should do to help or stop social enterprise during public health emergencies. That is why the goal of this study was to find out how the government has helped or hindered social entrepreneurs. Content analysis was conducted on the carefully mined data from the internet. The research found that regulations for social enterprises should be loosened, especially during and after pandemics and disasters. This could also make it easier to accomplish things in the government. It was also found that, in addition to financial help, capacity building through training can help social enterprises do more and make a bigger difference. This research provides broader guidelines for policymakers and new entrants in the field.
... Entrepreneurship is seen as a driver for economic growth through innovation, job creation, technologies, positive impact on exports and GDP/capita (Cumming, Johan, & Zhang, 2014). Especially, social entrepreneurship has attracted the attention of scholars and practitioners for its capability to contribute to solving urgent social problems and responding to grand challenges (Bacq, Geoghegan, Josefy, Stevenson, & Williams, 2020). Social enterprises strive to couple entrepreneurship with sustainable development, offering the potential for the implementation of SDGs. ...
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PURPOSE: Entrepreneurship seen as an engine for economic development is especially desirable for emerging countries to support rapid growth. Moreover, entrepreneurs can support social transformation in favor of more sustainable products and services. Sustainable orientation of entrepreneurship contributes to sustainable development goals and prevents environmental deprivation. However, the sustainable development agenda can also influence entrepreneurship. METHODOLOGY: The conducted bibliometric analysis confirmed the growing interest among scholars in the correlation of entrepreneurship to sustainability in the last years. Furthermore, panel regression (static model) was used to explore the variables on entrepreneurship influencing the sustainable development goal (SDG) index in emerging countries, and Levin, Lin and Chu (LLC), W-Stat-IPS, ADF-Fisher Chi-Square, and PP-Fisher Chi-Square tests were applied to analyze the variables stationarity. In order to examine the existence of structural breaks, the robustness was checked on single cross-section units and on the whole panel dataset. In addition, the Hausmann test was used to select between random and fixed effects, and heteroskedasticity of residues, autocorrelation of residues and dependence of residues between the panels were conducted. Data was analyzed through Eviews 13. FINDINGS: This paper investigates the relationship between sustainability and entrepreneurship in emerging countries. It discusses the impact of sustainable development on entrepreneurship and the influence of entrepreneurship on sustainable development. IMPLICATIONS: The study results can be used by governments and policymakers to plan their strategies and policies
... In the papers consulted, we found examples of macro and micro response initiatives to the COVID-19 crisis. An example of prompt mobilisation in the first part of the pandemic is given by teachers with interests in the social entrepreneurship field (Bacq et al., 2020). They managed to put together (in every short time) a three-day virtual event to identify punctual solutions to the new problems generated by the Covid-19 pandemic. ...
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This paper assesses the antecedents (prospects) geared toward the implementation of e-learning strategy in the HLI’s of Ghana (a developing country) amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. The study again espouses the enabling factors that influence the e-learning system usage during the Covid-19 pandemic in a less digitalized economy. In doing so, the authors relied wholly on a quantitative research paradigm by leveraging on structural equation modelling (SEM) technique to achieve the study goal(s). The findings from 563 valid responses showed that the outbreak of the novel Covid-19 has positively and significantly strengthened the adoption of e-learning strategies across HLI’s in Ghana. It also revealed that “academic innovativeness” and “technological growth & development” have a significant mediation effect on the relationship between the Covid-19 pandemic and the adoption of e-learning strategy. In practice, the study offers contributions for universities’ management and policymakers to understand the relevant factors needed urgently by students and instructors of HLI’s for ensuring the successful usage of e-learning systems. The conclusion and future research direction has been presented in the paper.
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The Covid‐19 pandemic transformed the global entrepreneurship arena. The healthcare sector also transitioned from the traditional in‐person patient‐physician interaction to the virtual telemedicine healthcare delivery system with global outreach. The entrepreneur alliances in the healthcare sector almost doubled during the pandemic with maximum tie‐ups with international healthcare institutions. The study takes a bibliometric perspective by analyzing articles on global entrepreneurship in healthcare. It provides the most influential authors and institutions, the thematic structure through cluster analysis, co‐word network analysis, and co‐citation analysis related to the literature on global entrepreneurship in the healthcare domain. The findings emphasized the importance of local alliances compared to global alliances in healthcare service delivery, especially during a pandemic. Technology was found to be a great enabler for global entrepreneurship. The study also highlights the emerging research themes for scholars working on global entrepreneurship in the healthcare sector.
Purpose The present study aims to understand the role of the network of a woman entrepreneur in helping the business during a crisis with a focus on the stakeholders, namely, the suppliers and the customers. Design/methodology/approach Case study method is used to address the research objectives and a case of a woman entrepreneur based in India is selected for the same purpose. An interpretive approach is used to understand the underlying phenomenon. Findings The analysis of the case illustrates how the three major aspects of the network, i.e. content, governance and structure, manifest from the supplier and the customers’ side and how do the same change during a crisis and may help the entrepreneur to overcome the crisis. Research limitations/implications The present study contributes to the theory of “network success hypotheses of entrepreneurship theory” by offering a manifestation of the same during a crisis faced by the entire network of the entrepreneur. Practical implications The findings provide insights on how an entrepreneur can use innovative ways of rethinking of the strategies during a crisis without compromising on the basic philosophy of the company. Originality/value The present study is one of a kind to identify the interplay between the entrepreneurial networks both from the customer and supplier sides of the firm during a crisis.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses have accelerated the adoption of information and communications technologies (ICT) and boosted the use of applications on media platforms and social networks. Therefore, it is significant to review indicators related to micro, small, and medium-sized companies (MSME) and to know what information they provide about the use of ICT and social media on the Internet for the creation of new products and services in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in Mexico. The methodology is electronic documentary research applying examination, review, compilation, selection, and analysis techniques from primary data sources, based on a survey of statistical analysis institutions in Mexico related to the issue of companies and the use of ICTs and social media. According to the review and analysis, we deduce that the indicators of the MSME surveys do not offer disaggregated information that evidences the use of digital media and social networks. In summary, it is inferred that they require developing and implementing new measurement indicators through survey instruments. It is suggested to add in the questions the topic that determines the use of media and social networks to obtain relevant information to support strategies and business plans of technological ventures with proposals for new products and services to address pandemics such as COVID-19.
Level-based weight assessment (LBWA) model is a recently introduced algorithm for determining criteria weights for multi-criteria group decision making. In this paper, the authors aim to extend the basic framework of LBWA in the picture fuzzy (PF) environment using actual score (AS) measures of the picture fuzzy numbers (PFN). They apply this extended framework in addressing a real-life problem pertaining to social entrepreneurship or social entrepreneurs (SE) in the context of COVID-19. They endeavor to identify the critical challenging factors of SE in the new normal. They list the challenges as revealed through literature review and take the opinion of a group of SEs using PF linguistic scale. They then apply the proposed framework, actual score-based picture fuzzy LBWA. They notice that ability to withstand disruption risk and show resilience and fund availability and creation of a supporting business ecosystems are the major challenges that SEs face in the new normal. They carry out validity checking and sensitivity analysis, which show reasonable consistency and stability in the result.
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Entrepreneurs need to act under conditions of uncertainty with severe resource constraints to bring new, often-unrecognizable products to market and convince an unknown set of stakeholders to support their endeavors. Yet the type of action entrepreneurs take to navigate uncertain entrepreneurial contexts is underspecified and generally not well understood. We analyzed 48 interviews with entrepreneurs to inductively identify and develop an action-oriented construct we labeled as entrepreneurial hustle-an entrepreneur's urgent, unorthodox actions that are intended to be useful in addressing immediate challenges and opportunities under conditions of uncertainty. In a follow-up study, we use an experimental vignette approach to assess the impact of an entrepreneur's hustle on venture stakeholders. Findings from this follow-up study suggest that entrepreneurial hustle positively influences stakeholder perceptions of the entrepreneur's leadership effectiveness and a venture's legitimacy, mediated by perceptions of the entrepreneur's ability-based trustworthiness. We conclude with a discussion of entrepreneurial hustle as a fundamental, but overlooked, behavior that enables entrepreneurs to enroll new venture stakeholders and lead their entrepreneurial efforts under conditions of uncertainty.
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Suffering comes in many forms that significantly impact organizations' operations and performance. As a result, recent research on compassion organizing seeks to explain how efforts to notice, feel, and respond to suffering create organizational (and societal) benefits. Widespread suffering can be generated by natural disasters, which in turn can trigger compassionate organizational responses. In this paper, we build on social capital theory to theorize about how compassionate ventures leverage network relationships to identify and mobilize resources. We also explore how differences in these approaches influence the magnitude, speed, and customization of the response, all of which are theorized indicators of the effectiveness of compassion organizing in alleviating suffering. We use structural equation modeling to test our model and find that compassionate ventures with stronger ties to the local community are more likely to bundle (i.e., stretch) resources, which facilitates a speedy, customized, and large magnitude response. In contrast, those with stronger ties outside the local community are more likely to pursue (i.e., chase) new resources, which results in a large magnitude response, but one that is not associated with speed or customization. We discuss the implications of our findings and make recommendations for future research. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Research on crisis management and resilience has sought to explain how individuals and organizations anticipate and respond to adversity, yet—surprisingly—there has been little integration across these two literatures. In this paper, we review the literatures on crisis management and resilience and discuss opportunities to both integrate and advance these streams of research. We identify unique lines of work on crisis and crisis management—crisis-as-an-event and crisis-as-process. We review complementary streams of research in the resilience literature and explore their implications for studies of crisis. Building on these reviews, we develop an integrative framework that is focused around key themes of both crisis and resilience, including capabilities for durability; organizing and adjusting; responding to major disturbances; and a feedback loop from these experiences. Following this, we offer a research agenda that centers on understanding and explaining the interaction between crisis and resilience as they occur in a dynamic process. We then discuss research opportunities that explore the dynamic relationship of resilience and crisis as it relates to leadership, time, complexity, and mindfulness. Finally, we note how researchers can consider the dark side of resilience.
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"Grand challenges" are formulations of global problems that can be plausibly addressed through coordinated and collaborative effort. In this Special Research Forum, we showcase management research that examines societal problems that individuals, organizations, communities, and nations face around the world. We develop a framework to guide future research to provide systematic empirical evidence on the formulation, articulation, and implementation of grand challenges. We highlight several factors that likely enhance or suppress the attainment of collective goals, and identify representative research questions for future empirical work. In so doing, we aspire to encourage management scholars to engage in tackling broader societal challenges through their collaborative research and collective insight.
This prospective longitudinal study examined stress-mediating potentials of 3 types of social support: social embeddedness, perceived support from nonkin, and perceived support from kin. As participants in a statewide panel study, 222 older adults were interviewed once before and twice after a severe flood. It was hypothesized that disaster exposure (stress) would influence depression directly and indirectly, through deterioration of social support. LISREL analyses indicated that postdisaster declines in social embeddedness and nonkin support mediated the immediate and delayed impact of disaster stress. No evidence was found for the mediational role of kin support. Findings are in accord with conceptualizations of social support as an entity reflecting dynamic transactions among individuals, their social networks, and environmental pressures.
More than a decade ago, scholars formally conceptualized the potential synergy between leadership and entrepreneurship scholarship. Our work highlights research accomplishments occurring at the interface of these two intellectual areas as well as identifying untapped possibilities for continued research. We highlight how recent efforts have witnessed a mutual exchange of ideas that present opportunities benefiting both fields. Drawing from four key domains of entrepreneurship previously proposed to mutually inform future leadership research efforts, we make suggestions for integrating entrepreneurial opportunities, the roles of individual and entrepreneurial teams, the modes of organizing entrepreneurial ventures, and differing entrepreneurial environments with key trends important to leadership research, such as servant leadership and leader-member exchange theory. Overall, our work provides an assessment of the state of the art surrounding the coalescence of leadership and entrepreneurship research and sets an agenda for the next decade of research at this intersection.
We use Resource Dependency Theory and Human Capital Theory to explain entrepreneurship research, which is a relatively new research field over the last decade. Using citation analysis based on a rich database of 191,695 citations on 2,154 entrepreneurship articles published in leading journals from 2002 to 2013, we find that geographic diversity, international collaboration, top research scholars, and top research institutions enhance entrepreneurship research quality, which is measured by the number of citations per article. Leading institutions in entrepreneurship research are not long-established research institutions. Entrepreneurship presents itself as a unique opportunity for a wider range of institutions and scholars to collaborate and develop expertise and leadership research.
Conference Paper
Hackathons are events where people who are not normally collocated converge for a few days to write code together. Hackathons, it seems, are everywhere. We know that long- term collocation helps advance technical work and facilitate enduring interpersonal relationships, but can similar benefits come from brief, hackathon-style collocation? How do participants spend their time preparing, working face-to- face, and following through these brief encounters? Do the activities participants select suggest a tradeoff between the social and technical benefits of collocation? We present results from a multiple-case study that suggest the way that hackathon-style collocation advances technical work varies across technical domain, community structure, and expertise of participants. Building social ties, in contrast, seems relatively constant across hackathons. Results from different hackathon team formation strategies suggest a tradeoff between advancing technical work and building social ties. Our findings have implications for technology support that needs to be in place for hackathons and for understanding the role of brief interludes of collocation in loosely-coupled, geographically distributed work.
Venture creation generates value in a variety of forms both for the entrepreneur him or her-self and the venture's stakeholders. Recent research explores entrepreneurial action as a vehicle for personal transformation and development for the individual, especially as it pertains to overcoming adversity. We build on this emerging literature by exploring victims creating new ventures in the aftermath of a disaster e