Lean Startup: Impact pour nos Grandes Entreprises

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Venu de l’ingénierie de la Silicon Valley, le Lean Startup est en train de révolutionner la façon de créer les startups. Mais pas que. Cette approche pratique et systématique commence à faire son chemin dans nos grandes entreprises françaises.

Le Lean Startup reconnait que la réussite d’un produit passe simplement par son adoption par le marché. Les clients et utilisateurs sont au centre de la démarche dont le but est de comprendre comment créer, livrer et capturer de la valeur pour ses clients.

Face à la planification de développements souvent sans fin, elle prone des itérations rapides sur une version minimal du produit (MVP = Minimum Viable Product) qui permette de mesurer les comportements des clients et à terme de mieux comprendre leur besoins et attentes. Partir d’une idée de service, construire un premier proto avec le minimum d’efforts, mesurer les comportements des utilisateurs, apprendre ce qui marche et qui ne marche pas et itérer. C’est le cœur du Lean Startup, la boucle build-measure-learn.

Le principe est simple : comme la voie du succès est ponctuée d’erreurs, autant les faire le plus vite et à moindre coût afin de pouvoir réorienter ou faire « pivoter » le concept autant de fois que nécessaires.

Aujourd’hui leadées par quelques spécialistes visionnaires (peut-être même illuminés aux yeux de certains), les grandes entreprises en France adoptent le Lean Startup.

    Dans l’entreprise le Lean Startup sert:

  • aux directeurs innovation qui cherchent à équiper leurs équipes de méthodes
  • aux product managers qui utilisent ces outils pour comprendre les besoins clients et faire évoluer leur produit en fonction
  • aux départements marketing qui comprennent les limites des études de marchés et cherchent à renouer le contact direct avec leurs clients

Dans ce monde en constante évolution, le Lean Startup émerge comme l’approche business adapté à notre temps.

How to use surveys to learn from your customers

Too often I have seen entrepreneur trying to understand their customer need by sending them … a survey.

“Please rank those feature in order of preference”

Because surveys capture what people say – which is different from how they behave – they don’t provide insightful data.
Worst, they provides data that too is easily misinterpreted and lead wrong insights…
The most useless survey question I have ever seen:

How much will you pay for a service that does such and such…

Whatever the answer, make sure you ignore it.

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I have seen 2 rare occasions of useful surveys:

  1. to (scientifically) pick the best domain name
  2. to measure the customer pain. An entrepreneur sent a very long and boring survey his potential early adopters. When the results came back, he did not look at the actual answers but at how many people actually finished the survey. A direct measure of how much trouble they are will go through to get a closer to the solution to their problem. A measure of their pain. He then identifies the most eager early adopters.

Both of those examples are about validation, not discovery.

What do you think ? Do you have other examples of survey that worked ?

Which Canvas for My Project ?

So, RIP the business plan, long live the business model canvas. A new light and fresh tool that helps brings ideas into business. Now canvas and boards are popped up every where on the radar. This will help decide which one works best for your:

The Business Model Canvas
proposed by Alexander Osterwalder
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Mother of them all, it’s the original canvas used the business model generation book. The canvas most widely used and documented.
To use this tools, describe your business on each of the 9 sections of the canvas (value proposition, customer segment, channels, customer relationship, key activities, key resources, partners, cost structure and revenue stream). You then treat what you have in each sections of the canvas as hypothesis. And those hypothesis might be true or false and your job is go out and learn from the field, with practical experiments which hypothesis are valid and which are not. With what you have learned, you will then change your canvas and do the same thing, until your business model is validated. Overtime, you end up with many different versions that you can overlay to see the evolution of your idea.

Download the Business Generation Canvas in PDF.

The Lean Canvas
proposed by Ash Maurya

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The lean canvas is the cousin of the business model canvas coming from the ‘lean start-up’ business family. Compared to the business model canvas, it focused on the product and the market. It brings to the front the problems you are solving, the top 3 features and the key metrics you should track, leaving on the side the ‘how’ to deliver the solution. To use, this canvas, again, write down you best answer on each section, then test and iterate. This is a guide on how to create your lean canvas (pdf).

I have found this canvas is best suited for early stage business.

The Validation board
proposed by Lean Startup Machine

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I found this one the most practical to quickly validate and iterate on your project idea. As the lean canvas, the problem / the customer approach and forces you to test systematically, report on results and iterate on the very same sheet and on different versions of a canvas.

The Validation Board helps you:
1. Formalise your customer segment and problem statement
2. Test assumptions one by one – starting with the riskiest one
3. Design your experiment (or MVP) and the success criteria (before you run the experiment)
4. Track the results of your experiments overtime
5. Focus only on the problem and customer segment at the beginning (later include the solution)

Here is how to use it:

Download the Validation Board in PDF.

The Happy Canvas
by Laurence McCahill

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The happy canvas brings an interesting angle to the list. Like the others, it captures the problem, the solution, the early adopters and the value proposition.
What’s new is the Purpose & Vision, Value and Story. Ok, I can see how those are important for a startup business. Important to define and agree on with the other founders, but surely not something you want to iterate on every day or week.

Maybe I had a Happy Canvas in 2002 before starting RVR System, it would have saved lots of disagreement with the other co-founders. One of the reason startup fails is because of co-founder disagreement, and many be this ‘Happy Canvas’ help avoid that.

Download the Happy Canvas in PDF.

Lean Startup Machine experience

I recently attended the Lean Startup Machine workshop in London.

WOW. What an experience. 2.5 days of immersion to develop an idea into a viable and meaningful product, searching potential customers and refining the idea. A lot more excitement than what many of us get in our day job.

This workshop provides an opportunity to work on a real case, in the safety of the sandbox, guided by very helpful and insightful mentors. In teams, we practice the running experiments, building MVP, invalidation assumptions, pivoting, and ultimately doing customer development.

If you have read the Lean Startup book, this workshop is very much in the continuity and applying the theory to a practical business idea. Definitely recommend for anyone who has enjoyed the book.

Here are photo photos of the event:

Rafael explaining why you get out of the building and talk to people.
Rafael explaining why you get out of the building and talk to people.
Tim and the mentors
Tim and the mentors
My Team, working on the Public Democracy concept, with Luca and Stuart.
My team (Public Democracy concept) with Luca and Stuart and our Validation board.

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

WordPress as a base for building web applications quickly

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WordPress has grown a lot in the past years to become on the most popular platform for web application. TechCrunch runs on it, and it’s used by CNN and other high traffic websites.

From a software development perspective, it provides out of the box a lot of the standard features a web application needs – such as sign-up, login, forgot password, navigation, content editing, photo sliders.

This leads me to consider using wordpress as a base for building web application. It does provide the standard feature a web app needs and can be extended to support more features.

Here are some of good articles I have found on the case:

What is business ?

Dad : I want you to marry a girl of my choice
Son : No !!
Dad : the girl is Bill Gates’ daughter
Son : oh.. okay

Dad goes to Bill Gates
Dad : I want your daughter to marry my son
Bill Gates : No !!
Dad : my son is the CEO of World Bank
Bill Gates : oh.. okay

Dad goes to the President of World Bank
Dad : appoint my son as the CEO of your Bank
President : No !!
Dad : he is the son in law of Bill Gates
President : oh.. okay

This is value creation!

A little amazing feature on Gmail

Well, it was quite simple, I wrote an email, and somewhere in the email I wrote “I attached …” this document. Re-read the email and hit the send button.

And this pop-up came up.

Ouf! Thanks Gmail. How clever. I knew gmail was reading emails content to serve targeted ads, but it also tries help user avoid mistakes. How thoughtful. I feel like I have a safety net.

That’s the coolest gmail feature I have seen since the Unsend option. So simple, yet so useful.

Weather comparison between London and Paris

There may be good reasons to prefer Paris over London, but weather is not one of them.

Here is a comparison between London and Paris weather data taken form two different sources.
Source 1: 30 year averages (1961-1990) from http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk, http://www.meteomedia.com
Source 2: http://www.climatetemp.info

An end to the weather debate: it rains just as much in Paris as it does in London.

Whether comparing wet days, rainfall, humidity, or temperature London and Paris are similar. The one noticeable difference between London and Paris is the amount of sunlight each city gets.

Thank you Francine for the research!

Google also building walls around its garden…

Have a look a the image below. It compares two screenshots of a Google search results page. The one on the left is from 2008. The one on the right is from 2012. Source: Business Insider

This is not new of course, but recently the spotlight started to shift toward this issue. The Google page result is more and more just about Google content and ads, leaving little space for organic free traffic for web sites.

As the article says: the company is closely monitored by anti-trust officials.

In that trend earlier this year, the search results page integrated Google+

So Google wants users to stay on Google, building walls to prevent them to wander outside – unless an advertiser pays Google for that user. This will certainly increase their revenues but it’s also a shift toward a less open and a more controlled internet – by Google.