Economizing Education Through Entrepreneurial Thinking

Globally Competitive Unit/Lesson Plan:

This sample education leadership unit and lesson plan was inspired by Marian S. Moore. She is a Business Education Consultant, Instructional Designer, and a Globally Competitive Coach at Compete With Purpose, LLC.

Focus:  “Economizing Education Through Entrepreneurial Thinking”

Objective: Students or Education Leaders will be able to analyze the critical areas that impact the school system’s balance sheet in order to develop a cost effective economic plan with innovative ways to implement an equitable annual budget.

21st Century Subjects, Themes, and Skills Applied

The book and informational text explored in this unit plan is, Good to Great, by Jim Collins which can be used to provide an interdisciplinary lesson. The following core subjects, themes, and skills are explored in this unit plan:

Core Subjects:

  • Mathematics – Financial and Statistical data are analyzed throughout the reading.
  • Social Studies/Economics – Corporate case studies and historical events are provided.
  • Science – Psychology of Business and Leadership are discussed. The information covered in this text is based on research.
  • English, Reading, and Language Arts – The use of analogies to describe career concepts or competitive characteristic traits are evaluated.

21st Century Themes:

Global Awareness, Financial, Economic, Business and Entrepreneurial Literacy, Civic Literacy, and Health Literacy

21st Century Skills:

Flexibility and Adaptability, Initiative and Self-Direction, Social and Cross-Cultural Skills, Productivity and Accountability, Leadership and Responsibility.

Common Core Standards That Will Be Met:

English Language Arts Standards: Reading Informational Text Grade 11-12; English Language Arts Standards: Writing – Grade 11-12; Speaking and Listening – Grade 11-12

Mathematics Standards: High School Statistics and Probability Interpreting Categorical and Quantitative Data ; Making Inferences and Justifying Conclusions

Lesson Plan Motivation & Open Discussion:

School Systems Accounting Equation

Reflective Thinking: Think about scenarios in your life when you’ve lived paycheck to paycheck. Biweekly, we often spend money without paying attention to the details of our daily spending. Some of us over time, will apply for credit and ask our creditors to help us pay for our impulsive spending without analyzing the benefits or costs of each product or service. Additionally, we often spend based on our immediate “wants”, not prioritizing our financial needs into the equation.  Should we compare cost or demonstrate patience while determining what to purchase? Should we examine whether the latest trendy technology is worth buying, when there is a cheaper alternative that will provide us with the same advantages? Yes, I agree, we should consider the “opportunity cost” when making purchases personally and professionally!

So as education leaders, do we want our personal spending habits to carry over into our school system’s annual budgets? Do we want to manage the school system’s budget as if we are living paycheck to paycheck or by impulse? As education leaders,  can we come up with innovative ways to increase revenue for the school system that will help balance the school system’s budget increasing its net worth and financial stability? More importantly, I believe we should address the brutal facts associated with our liabilities in order to prevent biased financial decisions to impact the net worth or reputation of our school systems. Examples such as institutional racism which includes lack of equal employment opportunity or inequities in schools based on lack of equal access to resources should be factored into the equation because often education leaders’ resignations are due to these types of working conditions. Therefore, these examples I just shared with you demonstrate that education can be an expense, not an investment when political and racist decisions are being made by our education leaders as well as policy makers. Furthermore, I predict that these “Liberal” Liabilities will lead school systems toward a Doom Loop, a concept acknowledged by Jim Collins in his leadership book, “Good to Great”. To further inform you, I encourage you to read page 183 to analyze the scenarios of the Doom Loop and the Flywheel Effect in Leadership. After reading, please discuss and identify with others examples of your school system’s Doom Loop and Fly Wheel Effect. So I believe that as community members, we should try to continue the game plans that are working and help solve critical educational problems together as a team!

Introductory Lesson: Flywheel Effect vs. Doom Loop

Reading Informational Text: “Good to Great”: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Other Don’t written by: Jim Collins.

Interdisciplinary Vocabulary Explored: Assets, Liabilities, Owner’s Equity, Acquisitions, Permutations, Cumulative Value, Bankruptcy, NASDAQ, Operating and Capital Budgets

Leadership Concepts: Flywheel Effect, Doom Loop, Hedgehog Concept

Lesson Summary: After Education Leaders are fully engaged with the opening discussion about the accounting equation in small groups as well as an entire group, they will be encouraged to read an informational book about leadership. This opening activity will create an opportunity for participants to make academic and professional connections with not only the financial accounting equation, but new leadership concepts, such as the Flywheel Effect and the Doom Loop. Students are encouraged to choose any team concept such as a marriage, family, sports team, executive team, club, business partnership, or leading an organization as a personalized model in order to scaffold into their group discussions.The leadership scenarios that support the Flywheel and the Doom Loop are described on page 183. Each scenario listed could either positively or negatively impact the school system’s annual budget and overall organization effectiveness. Therefore, this will give students and education leaders an opportunity to make an academic connection with their school system in a new and meaningful way.

Instructions: Students or Education Leaders will read in groups, “Chapter 8: The Flywheel Effect and the Doom Loop”. Students or Education Leaders are encouraged to highlight, take notes, and write down questions or concerns, throughout the reading. After completing the chapter, students will discuss in groups the topics that were covered in chapter 8. Then they will create a graphic organizer on their papers or device to further discuss the chart on 183 by providing educational or professional examples that relates to each concept. This outline or graphic organizer will be  used as the foundation for the unit plan, which will help students and education leaders with their final performance assessment.

Performance Assessment Introduction

Application Project:  Before we work in teams,  Students and education leaders should be encouraged you to read the following passage for homework about “Knowing and Understanding Your Role as a Team Member”. This topic will be discussed in the beginning of the next class. The facilitator should encourage students and education leaders to use a historic sporting event, such as a March Madness game or even a little league game, to support my personal narrative entitled “Know and Understand Your Role as a Team Member.pdf”:

This globally competitive passage I decided to write will provide the facilitator with an analogy to promote dialogue with students and leaders in order to prepare them to collaborate on a challenging real-world application project. As a globally competitive coach, it is important to address team issues beforehand to encourage sportsmanlike conduct before, during, and after team projects.

Performance Assessment

Throughout the unit, students and education leaders will use their information, media, and technology skills to gain more knowledge and resources to expand their educational experience.

For example:

1. Jim Collins Flywheel Effect and Doom Loop

Article: How To Go From a Good to Great Team

Video: Flywheel and the Doom Loop

2. The Accounting Equation Resources

Article: Accounting Basics: Financial Statements

Video: An Introduction to the Balance Sheet?

3. The Difference Between an Operating and Capital Budget

Article: Differences and Similarities of Capital and Operational Budget

Video: Types of Planning: Strategic, Tactical, Operational and Contingency Planning

Note: Allowing students to engage in watching educational videos motivates self direction because some students will seek additional videos or articles that are helpful for their project in order to become more of an expert on the subject matter.

Application Project: “When the Classroom Meets the Real World”

School Systems Accounting Equation

Creative and Critical Thinking: View the Accounting Equation illustration once again and read the summary below that includes open ended questions in order to devise an economic plan that would address the costs and benefits of annual spending for your local school system.

“Now in a community, people invest in the education system each year by paying taxes. This is very similar to shareholders or stockholders who invest in a public company. Our local board of education, like the board of directors of a company, makes policies and decisions that impact the well-being of our citizens and the productivity of our communities. Therefore, if we are pooling our money into an education fund like investors pool their money into a mutual fund or a particular stock, then the economic benefits depend on the investor’s participation.

If your voice isn’t heard, then your child’s voice isn’t heard. If your child’s teacher voice isn’t heard, then your child’s education advocate has no power in the school system’s decision making process. Therefore, we, as a community, should become more involved in the budgeting process of our local school system. Our children, neighbors, family’s futures, local economies, or the safety of our neighborhoods are impacted by something as simple as an annual proposed budget. So with that said, I encourage you to get involved in analyzing your local school system’s expenditures.

Maybe after reading your school system’s budget, you will determine perhaps that your local superintendent’s budget team should provide the community with more information that support each expenditure or provide financial ratios that shows how the investment of technology affects costs such as summer schooling. You may notice a trend in summer schooling cost reduction due to technology investments, which will create more opportunities for money to be reallocated for more engaging projects during the normal school year. It is important that you keep track of trends like this so you can suggest where the school system’s funds should be redirected.

In addition, be fearless and ask your school system to become transparent about employee turnovers and provide financial ratios due to job dissatisfaction or even discrimination. Maybe the department of human resources should provide more quantitative and qualitative data that provides a cost and benefits analysis related to employee turnover as it relates to equity, the department leadership in which the employee resigned, or the way in which administrators evaluate their employees. We all know that a healthy employee yields a healthy organization. So students as well as employees who are directly affected by leadership can be a cost or a benefit to the organization. Therefore, the community has the right know how our school leaders are impacting the school system’s annual budget, along with their employees and student’s well-being.

More importantly, if the public becomes more active and views its local school system’s budget online, they will see a visual representation of how their tax contributions are being allocated. After viewing the itemized spending, I am sure, the community would like to provide input and suggest some simple solutions. This is the overall purpose for this unit and lesson plan. Therefore, instead of privately complaining to each another about teachers, the quality of education, or even the cafeteria food, I urge you to become public local leaders, change agents, and more involved in the decision making process by speaking up about your local school system’s financial activities.”

Now it’s time to take care of some business! So can you collaborate with others and develop an economic plan that will decrease the funding amount requested from the local, state, and federal government annually? How can we increase funding in the private sector to leverage out the costs invested by the government? How can you devise a plan that economically stimulates the school system’s financial stability?  Use your local school system’s FY Annual Budget plan for your reference and model for your economic plan. In addition, ask yourself: “Is my local school system developing solid economic systems generating more global business partnerships and recurring revenue in order to fund academic initiatives appropriately?

Here is financial planning source that shows how the personal financial decision making process can be used for personal and corporate finance. Our students can use this 6 step process in a business education class as well as our education leaders when preparing for an operations and capital budget.

Source: The Financial Planning Process

Additional Academic Challenges for the Unit:

1. Corporate Reports: Students can further research the companies mentioned in the Good to Great book by examining the annual reports for each company. Some of the companies mentioned in “Good to Great” were: Abbott, Circuit City, Fannie Mae, Kimberly-Clark, Walgreens, and Wells Fargo. This particular activity would allow students as well as education leaders to play the exact same role that Jim Collins and his team of researchers did by analyzing the good and great companies featured in his book. Perhaps during this corporate research activity, the achievements, challenges, and future plans explained in the annual reports of U.S. companies could help students to evaluate the fiscal budget of their school system better. I believe this project is a great opportunity for Common Core to be executed by students as well as education leaders making sure their financial and management decisions are aligned with globally competitive corporations.

2. Hedgehog Concept Public Speech:  Read Chapter 5: The Hedgehog Concept. Next, create with your leadership team a simple concept in three circles that will change your school system from “Good to Great”. The Hedgehog concept includes the following three questions: (1.) What are you deeply passionate about? (2.) What you can be the best in the world at? (3.) What drives your economic engine? Then, compose a 3 minute public speech pitching your team’s “Hedgehog Concept” to your local board of education. Remember to keep it short and concise!

3. Avatar Leadership Style: Read Chapter 2: Level 5 Leadership. This will be your opportunity to customize a leader digitally! Use character traits of several leaders that you admire or traits you believe would make a great leader in order to digitally personalize your ideal leader. Think about the type of leader you aspire to be and create an Avatar. You may use or any other technology tools to personalize an Avatar that meets your expectations. Use an audio media program to recite the characteristics of an effective leader. Then upload the file to the online Avatar program. You also have the option to create a video presentation and give yourself a leadership fashion makeover while providing to your audience a description of an effective leader.


Now that we have adopted the Common Core standards, it is time to devise a complementary fiscal plan that includes a balanced investment between the public and private sectors. Currently, I am working on an economic plan for the education system that will create an ongoing partner network of support from stakeholders input that will empower our global society’s output. The overall objective of this unit and lesson plan is to encourage students and education leaders to not allow discriminatory and political decisions negatively affect our education system’s annual budget. This will inspire all school systems nationwide to help shift from “good and great” so that our future workforce will be prepared for their colleges and careers.

In conclusion, I’ve applied real world lessons similar to this in my high school classroom. My business students researched public corporations and even analyzed federal spending, which had given them a competitive college and corporate advantage. As an education leader, I believe relevant lessons like this will have a progressive impact on our society if we promote as well as integrate financial economics in our monthly communication with our students as well as community.

© 2015, Marian S. Moore, All Rights Reserved

My name is Marian Moore and I discuss topics like this in my eBook, “Can I Inspire You With My Imagination?“. Thank you, in advance, for reading and I look forward to establishing global partnerships in education in the near future! Take care!


Collins, J. C. (2001). Good to great: Why some companies make the leap–and others don’t. New York, NY: HarperBusiness.;;;;;;;;,;;;;;


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