Problem Interview Guide for Lean Startup Experience

A hard part of customer development doing problem interview. It’s hard because interviewing strangers is not natural and its also actually hard to do the interview right.

The good news is that practice do make perfect, get it wrong a couple of times and you quickly understand what to correct and what to keep. If you want some simple exercices to improve your problem interview skills tweet this:
What exercice can I do to get better at problem interviews? @fdebane @adamberk

In the meantime, here the problem interview guide we use:
Download the problem interview guide

It’s to print and take as a memo for interviews.
Here is a guide to print and take as a memo for interviews.
You should not read the guide while doing the interview, but can refer to it inbetween interviews.

If you have to remember just 3 rules for problem interviews here they are:

  1. Do not talk about your business idea or product
  2. Ask about past events and behaviours
  3. No leading question, learn from the customer

Download the full problem interview guide

To capture the output of the interview, you can use the problem interview template.

What Ash Maurya told us in Paris

Startup people in Paris had a dilemma this week – choosing between two events on the same night: hear the good words from Ash Maurya author of Running Lean or listen to Heidi Isern and Blaise Bertrand from IDEO.
I ended up going to listen to Ash Maurya.

Here is what he said that I liked:

Most startups fail (still). Startup that succeed change along the way. They never end-up when they wanted to go.

The biggest risk is not finding customers.

If you cant get 10 customer off line. You can’t get 1000 online.

Ash runs a program where in 8 weeks, startups get paying customers and – here is the trick – they can’t write a line of code.

About validating assumptions: getting 2 positives answers out of 10 is not good enough. Change something and try to get 8 out of 10.

While doing customer development, most of the time spent on interviews is actually between interviews.

Referring to his book Running Lean, he said he can’t tell when the launch date was. It was the result of a continuous process. It’s concept ‘no launch date’ that I like, forcing you to be live with your poor product on day one.

Finally, he remained the limits of the methodology: it’s about getting feedback fast and being able to know if you are on the wrong path quicker. It does not guarantee success.

I suspect IDEO might have the rest of secret sauce…

Thank you for signing the book too :)
Thanks for signing my book too 🙂

Spring in Tunis

Earlier this spring, I was in Tunis. I took this opportunity to listen to people’s opinion on the changes that Arabs springs brought, two years after the events.

My first probe is with the taxi driver. He says, the revolution is great, people can speak freely now. With democracy it’s all for the better. And changes the conversation, pointing out cars on the road: look, this is the Renault ‘Symbole’ this car is not ‘allowed’ in France – and this one, it’s a bigger Twigo, also not allowed in France. Ok, then, it’s better and happy here.

The next day, I ask the question the people I came here to work with. Well, one of them says, the country is adapting, everyone is excited about the change and welcoming democracy with a newly found sense of freedom. But he says, people don’t known exactly what democracy means yet – and everybody have their own interpretation. He says it creates some of chaos – as some think that democracy is doing whatever you want. And he tells me this story of his friend that asked for a beer at the airport bar. The bar tender replied ‘No, I don’t want to serve you’. He complained to the boss who replied that he is powerless, he can’t control his employes anymore. They do what ever they want.

Democracy, freedom, rebellion, revolution ? Or just spring ?

A Tunisian demonstrator holds a sign during a protest against the Islamist Ennahda movement in Tunis

Raising your profile, PR and social media

Yesterday KnowledgePeers organised a panel on Raising Your Profile – Here are the few interesting notes I took on PR and social media.

Small business can use PR to tell a better story than the bigger companies that will just broadcast press release on the wires. The story of the artisan crafting his product, the baker preparing his cake or the winemaker cherishing his grapes is often more compelling.

Caroline Kinsey from the panel used an analogy to compare PR to a bowling ball that is sent and hit as many pins as possible and social media to a pinball ball that is sent and hit wherever it bounces next.

As someone in the audience put it, marketing via social media is like preaching to the converted. The people you reach already ‘like’ your product. The point then becomes to incentivize those fans so they will spread the word and act as the ambassador to the product. This could be done by:
– giving reward related to the brand and the product (free sample?)
– giving information a head of the mass so they feel they are on the inside

A good way to think about how to communicate with your customer on the social media is by asking the question: how does my present in social media add value to my customers.

When thinking about marketing a small business, I find those point helpful.

Social media at work – breakfast with WebJam

This morning webjam breakfast was organised to trigger the discussion on the use of social media in the context of work. The small group was greeted by Marc Campman, the marketing director who invited Euan Semple a social media thought leader to share his thought.

Euan surely knows his stuff, giving loads of examples of application of social media in the work place. He started by quoting the Cluetrain Manifesto, defining internet disruptive impact as: globally distributed, near instant, person to person conversations, peer-to-peer communication.

A few examples of the use of social media by companies in the work context (unsorted):

  • Workers using social media as a tool to get information.
  • The use of wiki and forums to sharing the information.
  • A internal blogs which has more reader than the staff newsletter.
  • Twitter used to tap into the crowd wisdom to get questions answered and Yammer, the twitter like version for the workplace, being used.
  • The well known case of staff, helping their company with customer issues or queries via twitter and other social media. A person to person communication.
  • The use of social media for recruiting by posting job specs for instance.

Marc C. explained WebJam’s vision, pointing out the ‘brand ambassador’ benefit that social media should bring to the workplace. They are helping a big company developing their social media ‘inside the firewall’. The approach he says was to focus on the user (employee) enabling them sharing and contribution. An Intranet 2.0 with a smaller place for top-down message. A Facebook like site for colleagues.

The point, I think, with the social media in the workplace is about replicating and enhancing existing human behaviours, in the digital space. Throughout the example we saw the promise of more peer-to-peer conversation and less trying top-down communication. Which is, in essence a change that some organisation are already embracing. Social media might well be its catalysis.