One of the great things about my current gig is that we bring in smart folks from all over to share their thoughts on innovation within government. Recently, Alistair Croll (@acroll), coauthor of Lean Analytics, flew in from Canada to share some of the highlights of his book and how we could apply a metrics-driven mentality to our projects as Presidential Innovation Fellows.
My coworker Sarah Allen and I pair-captured notes on the talk and Alistair’s given his blessing to share them publicly. Having glanced through the book, there is WAY more depth than even these extensive notes cover and I plan to read the whole thing. Enjoy!
Part 1: What is the Lean Movement?
- Silicon Valley hates failure more than the alternative: making something nobody needs.
- Waterfall: Building a Nuclear Reactor: the spec is not going to change months from now
- Spec – Build – Test – Launch
- Agile: Requirements change before you launch if you are engineering things like software applications today.
- Unclear how to satisfy requirements
- problem – build – test, viable? → (yes) Launch
- → (no) Adjust
- Reality: There is no clear set of requirements
Most startups don’t know what they’ll be when they grow up.
- Paypal (first built for Palm Pilots)
- Freshbooks (invoicing for a single web design firm)
- Wikipedia (was going to be by experts)
- Mitel (lawnmower company)
- HotMail was a database company, Flickr (massively multiplayer game), Autodesk (desktop automation)
Consumer demand is the biggest risk
- Kevin Costner (Field of Dreams) was a LOUSY entrepreneur
- Reverse the idea: if they come, you should build it
- You should not sell the thing you can make, you should make the thing you can sell.
- “build just enough to quantify the biggest risk.”
CASE STUDY: Rubber trees
- social entrepreneurs want to create rubber tree marketplace, couldn’t wait 20 yrs for rubber trees to grow
- Risk was not “can rubber trees grow?”
- Risk WAS “can you build the marketplace if you have rubber trees”
- Focus on where the RISK is — validate that part. Continue reading →