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Insights from The Lean Startup Conference 2014


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33voices and The 2014 Lean Startup Conference present a comprehensive guide on how to apply the lean startup methodology to your organization.

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Insights from The Lean Startup Conference 2014

  2. This presentation consists of insights inspired by 33voices® interviews at The Lean Startup Conference 2014.
  3. Table of Contents Page 4 Page 8 Page 13 Page 18 Page 25 Page 32 Page 39 Page 50 Page 58 Page 64 Page 71 Page 82 Page 92 Christie George: How to Lead Your Startup in the Early Days Grace Ng: How to Introduce the Lean Methodology into Your Organization Janice Fraser: How to Embody the Lean Mentality Erin McKean: How to Constantly Iterate Your Product Flo Motlik: How to Run a Lean Tech Team Julie Lorch: How to Use the Lean Methodology to Enhance UX Des Traynor: How to Request, Evaluate, and Act on Feedback Cindy Alvarez: How to Apply the Lean Methodology to Customer Development Jana Eggers: How to Get to the Root of Customer Inquiries Hugh Molotsi: How to Ingrain Experimentation into Your Culture Alistair Croll: How Big Companies Make Lean a Reality Stacy Conlon: How to Make Calmness a Habit Credits
  4. Christie George @christiegeorge Director of New Media Ventures, Co-Founder of Louder, and Co-Owner of The Rio Theater How to Lead Your Startup in the Early Days
  5. Use early experimentation as the primary reason to start your company. You don’t need a name, location, or even a team to run a small experiment to test if people are interested.
  6. The first and most important question founders need to answer is what their primary revenue source is. Your goals are irrelevant without a tangible plan to make them a reality.
  7. For non-profits especially, sharing your business model empowers the space as a whole. Don’t be fearful to reveal your ‘secret sauce.’ The true indication of successful organizations always lies in their execution.
  8. Grace Ng @uxceo Co-founder and Design Lead at Javelin How to Introduce the Lean Methodology into Your Organization
  9. Lean entrepreneurs understand getting out of the building as a commandment not an option. The only way to grow your business is to constantly be testing new ideas.
  10. Once you validate your idea create a problem-solution hypothesis by defining your customer and the problem they are struggling with.
  11. When interacting with potential customers, lead with the problem, not your solution. This way you’ll gain an accurate representation of how people are currently dealing with the problem, what they’re looking for in a solution, and how much they’re willing to pay for it. Resist asking leading questions to gain the full scope of what your customer is sharing.
  12. Once you’ve validated your idea with consumer need, follow these steps to build an indicative landing page:
  13. Janice Fraser @clevergirl Fomenter at Pivotal Labs How to Embody the Lean Mentality
  14. Money and press are beneficial but the most promising way to survive the early days is to establish your riskiest assumption (the one thing that must happen for your company to be successful) and design small experiments to test it.
  15. Ask these three questions to design your experiment. What is the most important variable you need to uncover? What is its value to the customer? What is its value to your company?
  16. Next, build your problem solution hypothesis with these four criteria in mind. It’s specific. It’s appropriately scoped. It tests your riskiest assumption. It’s measured by a clear yes / no vote.
  17. The two biggest mistakes lean entrepreneurs face are not starting and pursuing easy goals. Exceptional companies measure success by their team’s insatiable desire to solve intricate problems. Commit yourself to embracing new challenges daily.
  18. Erin McKean @emckean Founder of Wordnik and Co-founder of Reverb Technologies How to Constantly Iterate Your Product
  19. Lean entrepreneurs live in the question. When you listen to your users before designing your solution you’ll perform based on their true use of your product instead of unreliable assumptions.
  20. Industry changing organizations are never 100 % satisfied with their solutions. The only way to consistently improve your service is to ensure that your hypothesis is always evolving.
  21. To approach your work with a newfound curiosity immerse yourself in creative spaces that uniquely ignite your senses. Try reading non-fiction books that are ripe with metaphors.
  22. The only way to monetize your business is to sell the part of your work that makes people happy. Customers won’t pay for products they aren’t deriving joy from.
  23. You’ll have your “a-ha” moment on how to deliver your pitch when you can describe your work with words that eliminate misunderstanding and naturally demonstrate your big vision.
  24. When you recognize that the future of modern search is bringing ideas to life you’ll reimagine how you interact with your customer.
  25. Flo Motlik @flomotlik Co-Founder and CTO of Codeship How to Run a Lean Tech Team
  26. When working across continents it’s vital that each team is capable of shipping product and independently handling daily operations. As a founder, it’s your responsibility to institute proper company infrastructure at every branch.
  27. When you recognize that your engineers are users too, you’ll prioritize their feedback to gain a deeper understanding of your product’s functionality.
  28. Intuitive customer service teams don’t rely on users to identify the root of their problems. Instead, they slowly talk through each of their pain points to gain a comprehensive understanding of how they’re using the product and determine if there are any holes in its delivery.
  29. Smart startups spend time with the companies and customers they hope to serve in the future. Knowing what large clients need empowers you to get a head start on the future challenges you’ll need to solve with your product.
  30. The moment you decide that doing things that don’t scale is the core part of your culture, customers will love you for who you are, not what you do. It’s the customers who enjoy spending time with you that will market your product for you.
  31. “Software is the world. Software is touching every product out there. So you have to make sure that software isn’t holding you back.” Possessing the most advanced infrastructure isn’t the key to success but if technology is prohibiting your growth your organization will not survive.
  32. Julie Lorch @joolaay Head of User Experience at How to Use the Lean Methodology to Enhance UX
  33. More users warrant more options. Actively provide a greater variety of choices as your user base grows.
  34. When it comes to UX and website design eliminate the phrases “I like” and “I love” from your vocabulary. Instead, replace them with specific reasons why a new feature should be implemented. Try: This feature is beneficial because _______________.
  35. Cross functionality is the highest indicator of a rapid turn around rate. Save yourself time in the long run by sharing feature ideas with engineers to immediately determine if they are possible.
  36. Make design thinking the foundation of your culture by instituting weekly or bimonthly design sprints. Set goals, work fast, and iterate daily.
  37. Challenge and celebrate your team by running daily stand ups to emphasize accountability, maximize collaboration, and eliminate roadblocks.
  38. When you make it a priority to involve the entire team in website decisions, even if you’re only asking for feedback, each individual will feel a stake in the final product.
  39. Des Traynor @destraynor Co-Founder and Vice President of Customer Success at Intercom How to Request, Evaluate, and Act on Feedback
  40. Customer experience begins the second your user opens your product. Start by asking users what their objectives are and tailor your processes specifically to their needs.
  41. The simplest way to acquire feedback is to work with customers while they’re using your product. In context feedback not only reveals holes in your service but affords you a natural environment to inquire about user experience.
  42. Not all feedback is equal. If you’re seeking feedback for a specific feature, ask the customers who use it and be cognizant of how long and how often they use it when you evaluate their responses.
  43. Lean companies start evaluating feedback before they receive it. Being aware of the reason behind your request allows you take actionable steps to improve your product. Try asking these questions before reaching out to your customers:
  44. Invite a trusted group of users to a beta only program to test new features. When reaching out, describe the intent of the feature you’re releasing, the state it’s in, and the type of feedback you’re looking for.
  45. Lean entrepreneurs improve their products based on actual customer usage. Avoid being jaded by how ‘you think’ users are navigating your product.
  46. When building new products aspire to create a scalpel, not a Swiss Army Knife. Scalpels have a single function that can be proved by a simple yes or no answer. If you can’t accomplish the first part of your goal, the other parts are irrelevant.
  47. Try Intercom’s product release framework the next time you update your service: what you are trying to accomplish with it. Monitor their reception and ask those who don’t find it valuable how you can improve it. Step 4: Slowly broaden your test group and continue to iterate based on the shared feedback. Step 5: Make your new feature live. Step 1: Make the product live for the team who created it. Step 2: Launch the product to the entire team. At this point, the feature should be complete and ready to ship. Step 3: Share the product with your trusted testers and explain
  48. “Design conversations, not transactions.” Run your customer service culture like a coffee shop, not a tech team. Trusted brands don’t have start and end points for customer relationships. When you make your highest priority knowing your users you’ll eliminate automated interactions where they’re treated as a number or a request.
  49. Leading customer service teams don’t ask customers questions they know the answers too. Take the necessary steps, like looking up past interactions, to treat your customers like your friends.
  50. Cindy Alvarez @cindyalvarez Director of User Experience at Yammer How to Apply the Lean Methodology to Customer Development
  51. Applying the lean methodology to customer development is the same as using it to release products. Create a hypothesis - I think ‘x customer’ has ‘y problem’ - and use different tests to reveal the most effective way to solve it.
  52. If you’re struggling to release a small enough MVP reach out to friends in different industries. For their lack of familiarity with your work hasn’t inhibited their creative curiosity.
  53. It’s rare for people to identify and clearly explain their problems. Test numerous variables to under a customer’s pain point and deliver an accurate solution.
  54. Remember Steve Blank’s advice when deciding on price: “Smart startups price their product based on value to the customer.” As a founder, it’s your responsibility that consumers receive more than they pay for.
  55. Work closely with brand evangelists who have supported you from the early days. Not only are they committed to genuinely contributing to the growth of your business, they’ll give you the best and largest scope of feedback.
  56. Beware of the confirmation bias. Whether you’re talking to customers or releasing new products the more you validate your personal beliefs the more you distance yourself from your users’ real needs.
  57. When you embrace that the probability of failure is much higher than initial success you’ll start understanding failed tests as what not to do in the future.
  58. Jana Eggers @jeggers President of Nara Logics How to Get to the Root of Customer Inquiries
  59. Search is no longer defined by providing the single result users are inquiring about. Today’s organizations are responsible for considering the technology a user is searching on, their location, and their personal interests to deliver the most accurate and comprehensive results possible.
  60. Want to determine the underlying source of your customers needs? Instead of singing “We are the Champions” while they’re using “Killing Me Softly” approach your conversation as a blank slate to decipher exactly what they’re looking for in your service.
  61. Customer development isn’t a one size fits all process. Approach each interaction with three unique questions that will allow your user to demonstrate how they’re using your product rather than tell you. Remember to lead with their answers, not yours.
  62. The most effective way to encourage critical thinking is to lead with curiosity when it comes to data. Ask yourself where the data is coming from, what it’s revealing, and how your team should respond.
  63. Want to drive fearless experimentation with your team? Tell project leaders that you’ll take the blame if the experiment goes wrong and they can celebrate the glory if it’s successful.
  64. Hugh Molotsi @hughmolotsi Vice President of Intuit Labs Incubator How to Ingrain Experimentation into Your Culture
  65. The key to employee retention is long term careers defined by a diversity of projects, positions, and opportunities.
  66. Organizations that focus on the grand challenge equip each team member with the ability to drive change and growth through uninhibited experimentation. Afford team members unstructured time to work on passion projects. Follow Intuit’s lead with Incubation Weeks where team members have the opportunity to turn their ideas into MVPs.
  67. Determine the emotions you want to evoke in your customers before you write your business model and your plan of action will manifest itself.
  68. The key to Intuit’s lasting success is their early discovery that less is more. Make your software easy to use instead of flooding it with fancy features.
  69. To make informed product decisions Intuit avoids the “HIPOS” - Highest paid person’s opinion. Instead, create a meritocracy of ideas by using data from your lean experiments to decide which projects to fund.
  70. Adopt Intuit’s ‘7 to 1’ framework to solve problems. Institute a company practice for each team member to discern seven solutions to a problem. Often times, the solution will be a synthesis of all seven.
  71. Alistair Croll @acroll Founder of Solve for Interesting How Big Companies Make Lean a Reality
  72. Measuring every metric is unproductive and distracts your team from achieving the company’s highest goals. Determine the OMTM - the one metric that matters - and structure all of your experiments around it. If the metric doesn’t change the way your company behaves you’ve chosen the wrong one.
  73. Want to ingrain experimentation in your company’s DNA? Launch it the day you know the least about it and commit to doing daily experiments to uncover the strategies to success.
  74. When you lead your company with the simple principle that data is everything you’ll be quick to pivot when you’re moving in the wrong direction. Make this a habit by building your team with a data analyst, designer, hacker, and hustler.
  75. The difference between industry leaders and failed startups is making decisions based on opinion. When you make decisions on data you have a 5 - 6 % edge over your competitors.
  76. Be clear about the difference between causation and correlation when analyzing your data. Connecting two variables based on false assumptions can guide your company in the wrong direction.
  77. Just like new restaurants shouldn’t laminate their menus on opening night you shouldn’t laminate your business model. Try drawing it on a dry erase board or a document you can easily edit instead.
  78. Apply the MVP strategy to features by determining the minimum viable feature that you can apply to your service. Release it right away.
  79. Struggling to measure growth? Before revenue, utilize Paul Graham’s 5% weekly metric to measure engaged users. Next, prioritize growth and increasing revenue as your community grows.
  80. The most efficient way to get unbiased feedback is reaching out to individuals who don’t use your product. Your customers are too informed with the intricacies of your service and will reaffirm data you already have.
  81. The companies with the highest competitive advantage pride themselves on having the fastest reaction and learning time. Make it your number one goal to be the first to adapt to unexpected opportunities and changes in the market.
  82. Stacy Conlon @thezengirl Founder and CEO of The Zen Media Group How to Make Calmness a Habit
  83. A recent study conducted by Harvard reveals that our neural pathways change when we meditate. If you’re struggling to make meditation a habit try viewing it as a tool rather than a practice.
  84. Don’t shy away from your natural emotional responses. Embrace and explore how you feel in the moment.
  85. It’s inevitable that you’re going to make mistakes today. Rather than being hard on yourself take a step back, approach the situation from an outsider’s perspective, and do your best to move on.
  86. It takes years to find a routine to maximize your productivity. Don’t get down on yourself if you haven’t figured one out yet. Keep trying and the pieces will naturally fall into place.
  87. Our minds are most impressionable the first 30 minutes after waking up. Structure your time wisely by using the first 10 to visualize who you’d like to be and how you’d like to behave today.
  88. While 30 minutes may appear to be a significant part of your day the benefits of daily meditation transcend far greater than time you’re devoting daily.
  89. Pull marketing campaigns are defined by human interactions, rather than promotional materials. Make it a habit to have one on one conversations with your users instead of scheduling social media posts or sending automated response emails.
  90. Ready to apply The Lean Startup to your company? Click here for event details and resources.
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