Creating a Bias Towards Action          Presented by            Ian Smith                     ®
Your biggest problem is:• Product  – Spend 90% of your time• Customers  – Spend 10% of your time• Psychology  – The things...
Psychology addressed with:• Process  – To force movement• Measuring  – To ensure movement is forward• Stories  – To detect...
What we’ll cover:1.   Overview of QuoteWizard2.   Our Winter of Discontent3.   Breaking with the Past4.   What We’ve Learn...
Overview of QuoteWizard• Online Insurance Lead Generation    –   Buy ads online    –   Consumers visit and fill out our fo...
Ian Smith• First Developer to VP of Technology   –   First line of code   –   Built out platform   –   Hired a team to fix...
Our Culture• 80 passionate and creative people building  great service oriented relationships with  consumers, vendors, an...
Strong year over year growth$30,000,000$25,000,000$20,000,000$15,000,000$10,000,000 $5,000,000        $0              2006...
Our Winter of Discontent• Hitting a wall• Warning signs of Winter 2011:   –   8 companies consolidated down to 3   –   Uns...
CEO’s Summary“I feel like I have a lot of people but nothing              is ever getting done.”
Ancient Jewish Proverb• “Where there are no oxen, the manger is  clean, but abundant crops come by the  strength of the ox...
Ancient Jewish Proverb• “Where there are no oxen, the manger is  clean, but abundant crops come by the  strength of the ox...
Department of Shoveling• Concerned with being effective• In charge of the “how” of execution• Responsible for unsticking a...
Breaking with the Past
Reverse Engineering Our Process#   Step          What we did   What we do now1   Idea2   Pitch3   Approval4   Scoping5   D...
Reverse Engineering Our Process#   Step          What we did                     What we do now1   Idea          Silence –...
Reverse Engineering Our Process#   Step          What we did                     What we do now1   Idea          Silence –...
Reverse Engineering Our Process#   Step          What we did                     What we do now1   Idea          Silence –...
Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step          What we did                     What we do now1 Idea          Silence – do ...
Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step           What we did                     What we do now1 Idea           Silence – d...
Reverse Engineering Our Process#   Step          What we did                     What we do now1   Idea          Silence –...
Reverse Engineering Our Process#   Step          What we did                     What we do now1   Idea          Silence –...
Living in the Fog of War
Living in the Fog of WarWhen you are winning:• You think you are better than you really are• You think you are ideas are b...
Experience vs Wisdom“When you lack wisdom you get experience”  “As you get experience you get wisdom”
Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step          What we did                     What we do now1 Idea          Silence – do ...
Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step          What we did                     What we do now1 Idea          Silence – do ...
Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step           What we did                     What we do now1 Idea           Silence – d...
Reverse Engineering Our Process#   Step          What we did                     What we do now1   Idea          Silence –...
Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step           What we did                     What we do now1 Idea           Silence – d...
Reverse Engineering Our Process#   Step          What we did                     What we do now1   Idea          Silence –...
Reverse Engineering Our Process#   Step          What we did                     What we do now1   Idea          Silence –...
Reverse Engineering Our Process#   Step          What we did                     What we do now1   Idea          Silence –...
What We’ve Learned     5 insights
Learning #1 :  Reorg+Rewrite+Rework = Rewrong• Developers hate to read code – so they just  rewrite it again  – 2 Insuranc...
Learning #2 :             Optimize for failure• “9 out of 10 projects fail”• 50 cold calls to get 1 sale• Problem: Failure...
Learning #3 :                         Ideas are debt•   Lots of creative people produce lots of creative ideas•   Every id...
Learning #4 :A bridge is 95% effective
Learning #4 :A bridge is 95% effective
Learning #5 :        Business Harder Than Tech• When I managed tech I noticed:  – 2 Weeks to complete a project  – Commonl...
Summary : Bias Towards Action• Every organizations natural biases:   –   Bias towards appearance   –   Bias towards waitin...
ResourcesWe’re hiring!• quotewizard.com/jobsTwilio is Awesome!I want to help!• @biastoact• ismith@quotewizard.com• BiasToA...
Questions?State your name, job title and   company, and question
Thank You!
Creating a bias towards action
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Creating a bias towards action

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Lean Startup Seattle Oct 1st 2012

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Creating a bias towards action

  1. 1. Creating a Bias Towards Action Presented by Ian Smith ®
  2. 2. Your biggest problem is:• Product – Spend 90% of your time• Customers – Spend 10% of your time• Psychology – The things you believe (true and false) • about yourself • about your product • about your team
  3. 3. Psychology addressed with:• Process – To force movement• Measuring – To ensure movement is forward• Stories – To detect momentum
  4. 4. What we’ll cover:1. Overview of QuoteWizard2. Our Winter of Discontent3. Breaking with the Past4. What We’ve Learned5. Resources for You6. Questions
  5. 5. Overview of QuoteWizard• Online Insurance Lead Generation – Buy ads online – Consumers visit and fill out our form – We sell their information to insurance companies – Consumers get multiple, competitive quotes• Launched in 2006• Located in Pioneer Square• Bootstrapped from 3 to over 80 employees• #3 in our industry – Selling to All Major Carriers – 5,000+ Agents on our Network
  6. 6. Ian Smith• First Developer to VP of Technology – First line of code – Built out platform – Hired a team to fix my problems – Focused on our products and strategic relationships• VP of Operations – Process and Project Management – Evangelism – Data and Analytics – ‘Story Telling’ismith@quotewizard.comTwitter: @biastoact
  7. 7. Our Culture• 80 passionate and creative people building great service oriented relationships with consumers, vendors, and customers.• 80 strong and independently minded personalities pursing the things they think will most likely bring success
  8. 8. Strong year over year growth$30,000,000$25,000,000$20,000,000$15,000,000$10,000,000 $5,000,000 $0 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
  9. 9. Our Winter of Discontent• Hitting a wall• Warning signs of Winter 2011: – 8 companies consolidated down to 3 – Unsustainable : traffic sources – Unsustainable : client relationships – Long running projects: • New Administration Tool : 2 years in the making • Backend Rewrite to .NET: 3 Months Late • FRR Consumer Product : 1 Year to Kill• Lack of clear vision for where to go next• Personally painful to think about
  10. 10. CEO’s Summary“I feel like I have a lot of people but nothing is ever getting done.”
  11. 11. Ancient Jewish Proverb• “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.”• Translation: – If you want a clean barn then you can have a small farm – It takes oxen to have a big farm – To have oxen you need to be prepared for sh..
  12. 12. Ancient Jewish Proverb• “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.”• Translation: – If you want a clean barn then you can have a small farm – It takes oxen to have a big farm – To have oxen you need to be prepared for shoveling
  13. 13. Department of Shoveling• Concerned with being effective• In charge of the “how” of execution• Responsible for unsticking and finding a way forward• Obsessed with – organization – communication – consistency – discovery
  14. 14. Breaking with the Past
  15. 15. Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step What we did What we do now1 Idea2 Pitch3 Approval4 Scoping5 Development6 Deployment7 Follow up
  16. 16. Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step What we did What we do now1 Idea Silence – do all the thinking on my own2 Pitch3 Approval4 Scoping5 Development6 Deployment7 Follow up
  17. 17. Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step What we did What we do now1 Idea Silence – do all the thinking on my own2 Pitch Surround myself with allies and oversell3 Approval4 Scoping5 Development6 Deployment7 Follow up
  18. 18. Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step What we did What we do now1 Idea Silence – do all the thinking on my own2 Pitch Surround myself with allies and oversell3 Approval Take anything as a mandate4 Scoping5 Development6 Deployment7 Follow up
  19. 19. Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step What we did What we do now1 Idea Silence – do all the thinking on my own2 Pitch Surround myself with allies and oversell3 Approval Take anything as a mandate4 Scoping Pile on the hitch hikers5 Development6 Deployment7 Follow up
  20. 20. Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step What we did What we do now1 Idea Silence – do all the thinking on my own2 Pitch Surround myself with allies and oversell3 Approval Take anything as a mandate4 Scoping Pile on the hitch hikers5 Development No constraints, all new code6 Deployment7 Follow up
  21. 21. Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step What we did What we do now1 Idea Silence – do all the thinking on my own2 Pitch Surround myself with allies and oversell3 Approval Take anything as a mandate4 Scoping Pile on the hitch hikers5 Development No constraints, all new code6 Deployment Panic, cut features, move dates7 Follow up
  22. 22. Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step What we did What we do now1 Idea Silence – do all the thinking on my own2 Pitch Surround myself with allies and oversell3 Approval Take anything as a mandate4 Scoping Pile on the hitch hikers5 Development No constraints, all new code6 Deployment Panic, cut features, move dates7 Follow up Move on to the next big thing
  23. 23. Living in the Fog of War
  24. 24. Living in the Fog of WarWhen you are winning:• You think you are better than you really are• You think you are ideas are better than they really are• You repeat your tactics over and over again• You stop learningWhen you are losing:• You think you are worse than you really are• You fear new information and judge everything by past success• You retreat and defend your base at all costs• You start learning again
  25. 25. Experience vs Wisdom“When you lack wisdom you get experience” “As you get experience you get wisdom”
  26. 26. Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step What we did What we do now1 Idea Silence – do all the thinking on my own2 Pitch Surround myself with allies and oversell3 Approval Take anything as a mandate4 Scoping Pile on the hitch hikers5 Development No constraints, all new code6 Deployment Panic, cut features, move dates7 Follow up Move on to the next big thing
  27. 27. Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step What we did What we do now1 Idea Silence – do all the thinking Have a Prekickoff – put pressure on my own on the idea2 Pitch Surround myself with allies and oversell3 Approval Take anything as a mandate4 Scoping Pile on the hitch hikers5 Development No constraints, all new code6 Deployment Panic, cut features, move dates7 Follow up Move on to the next big thing
  28. 28. Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step What we did What we do now1 Idea Silence – do all the thinking Have a Prekickoff – put pressure on my own on the idea2 Pitch Surround myself with allies Upgrade from personal to and oversell corporate3 Approval Take anything as a mandate4 Scoping Pile on the hitch hikers5 Development No constraints, all new code6 Deployment Panic, cut features, move dates7 Follow up Move on to the next big thing
  29. 29. Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step What we did What we do now1 Idea Silence – do all the thinking Have a Prekickoff – put pressure on my own on the idea2 Pitch Surround myself with allies Upgrade from personal to and oversell corporate3 Approval Take anything as a mandate Management votes4 Scoping Pile on the hitch hikers5 Development No constraints, all new code6 Deployment Panic, cut features, move dates7 Follow up Move on to the next big thing
  30. 30. Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step What we did What we do now1 Idea Silence – do all the thinking Have a Prekickoff – put pressure on my own on the idea2 Pitch Surround myself with allies Upgrade from personal to and oversell corporate3 Approval Take anything as a mandate Management votes4 Scoping Pile on the hitch hikers Kickoff. Build a team. Objectives, dates, and DRIs set in stone. Tactics aren’t.5 Development No constraints, all new code6 Deployment Panic, cut features, move dates7 Follow up Move on to the next big thing
  31. 31. Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step What we did What we do now1 Idea Silence – do all the thinking Have a Prekickoff – put pressure on my own on the idea2 Pitch Surround myself with allies Upgrade from personal to and oversell corporate3 Approval Take anything as a mandate Management votes4 Scoping Pile on the hitch hikers Kickoff. Build a team. Objectives, dates, and DRIs set in stone. Tactics aren’t.5 Development No constraints, all new code Manage to dates and objectives and results6 Deployment Panic, cut features, move dates7 Follow up Move on to the next big thing
  32. 32. Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step What we did What we do now1 Idea Silence – do all the thinking Have a Prekickoff – put pressure on my own on the idea2 Pitch Surround myself with allies Upgrade from personal to and oversell corporate3 Approval Take anything as a mandate Management votes4 Scoping Pile on the hitch hikers Kickoff. Build a team. Objectives, dates, and DRIs set in stone. Tactics aren’t.5 Development No constraints, all new code Manage to dates and objectives and results6 Deployment Panic, cut features, move Understand the health of the dates project7 Follow up Move on to the next big thing
  33. 33. Reverse Engineering Our Process# Step What we did What we do now1 Idea Silence – do all the thinking Have a Prekickoff – put pressure on my own on the idea2 Pitch Surround myself with allies Upgrade from personal to and oversell corporate3 Approval Take anything as a mandate Management votes4 Scoping Pile on the hitch hikers Kickoff. Build a team. Objectives, dates, and DRIs set in stone. Tactics aren’t.5 Development No constraints, all new code Manage to dates and objectives and results6 Deployment Panic, cut features, move Understand the health of the dates project7 Follow up Move on to the next big thing Review and Recycle with a Post Mortem
  34. 34. What We’ve Learned 5 insights
  35. 35. Learning #1 : Reorg+Rewrite+Rework = Rewrong• Developers hate to read code – so they just rewrite it again – 2 Insurance Form rewrites a year – A massive “3rd Times the Charm” 2 year admin rewrite – Ongoing rewrites of tracking, reporting, etc• Leaders, faced with uncertainty, reorganize – Reorgs are busy work to buy time for circumstances to change or a new direction to reveal itself• This is why it is hard to get anything done
  36. 36. Learning #2 : Optimize for failure• “9 out of 10 projects fail”• 50 cold calls to get 1 sale• Problem: Failure is the most common result you will find• Solution: Make failure cheap and optimize so you can identify it, contain it, and keep rolling
  37. 37. Learning #3 : Ideas are debt• Lots of creative people produce lots of creative ideas• Every idea looks good on the surface• Ideas do not have value• Ideas have negative value• Ideas suck up time, energy, enthusiasm, talent, and focus• Project Accounting: Stage Value added Balance Idea -10% -10% Plan, Scope, Document 11% 1% Execution 99% 100%
  38. 38. Learning #4 :A bridge is 95% effective
  39. 39. Learning #4 :A bridge is 95% effective
  40. 40. Learning #5 : Business Harder Than Tech• When I managed tech I noticed: – 2 Weeks to complete a project – Commonly a few days late and buggy• As I’ve moved to the business side I’ve become aware: – A 2 week tech project can often spend 7 weeks being debated before approval – It is very hard for business to pick guaranteed success while tech rarely fails to execute on the work
  41. 41. Summary : Bias Towards Action• Every organizations natural biases: – Bias towards appearance – Bias towards waiting – Bias towards keeping busy – Bias towards the next great idea – Bias towards huge engineering projects• Being biased towards action is unnatural and requires: – Intentionality – Good systems – Accountability
  42. 42. ResourcesWe’re hiring!• quotewizard.com/jobsTwilio is Awesome!I want to help!• @biastoact• ismith@quotewizard.com• BiasToAct.com – More content – PreKickoff Template – Kickoff Template – Post Mortem Template
  43. 43. Questions?State your name, job title and company, and question
  44. 44. Thank You!

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