For anyone who yearns to understand the Business Model Canvas, you may want to study these 14 essential links.
Here's one tip for creating a crystal clear canvas.
Use Precise Language
Is every Building Block in your Canvas precise enough? Make sure every building business model block is self explanatory. For example, writing “products” in revenue streams is unclear. More precise would be “product sales” or “margins on product sales”.
The authors of Value Proposition Design provide ten prototyping principles. I'll share details for a couple principles.
1. Make it visible and tangible.
2. Embrace a beginner's mind. Prototype what can't be done. Explore with a fresh mind-set.
3. Don't fall in love with first ideas -- Create alternatives.
4. Feel comfortable in a liquid state. Early in the process the right direction is unclear. Don't panic and solidify things too early.
5. Start with low fidelity prototypes.
6. Expose work early and seek feedback.
7. Learn faster by failing early, often and cheaply.
8. Use creativity techniques.
9. Create "Shrek models." Shrek models are extreme or outrageous prototypes you are unlikely to build. Use them to spark debate and learning.
10. Track learnings and progress.
In The Achievement Habit, author Bernard Roth gives us the design thinking principles.
1. Empathize. Care about the user's experience and figure out how to help.
2. Define the problem. Narrow down the problem you're going to solve.
3. Ideate. Use brainstorming, sketching, and other creative techniques to generate potential solutions.
4. Prototype. Build low fidelity prototypes you will show to customers.
5. Test and get feedback.
I encourage you to read the book and gain a deep understanding of the principles and how they work together.
"A prototype is your idea of what the future might look like."
-- David Kelly
This week, I completed IDEO's Ideas to Action class and learned many great Design Thinking concepts. Here's three related to prototypes.
Prototyping lets you think with your hands so get busy prototyping.
I'm playing with prototyping techniques and created a prototype using a storyboard.
Design Thinking stole the storyboard idea from screenwriters who use storyboards to lay out their scenes and check for dramatic elements.
Here's what I learned from my storyboard experiment.
First, it's fast and easy to draw a storyboard. All you need to draw is a sharpie and sticky notes.
You don't have to be an artist, stick figures are fine.
The story can use dramatic elements from screenwriting. In fact, I use some of the beats from the Save the Cat Beat Sheet. There's an upset CEO, the catalyst beat. And I use an opening and closing image. The CEO is happy at the end of the story.
In short, Design Thinking has the fastest feedback loop of any of the Agile or Lean approaches. Employ prototyping techniques to get fast feedback from your customers and build products that customers love.
Barry O'Reilly writes up ten principles to transform your company.
They are excellent principles and you should start acting on them now. Of course, Barry includes the always powerful Minimum Viable Product concept.
I want to focus on this principle --
Build in feedback loops with customers and users
Customer testing should be for breakfast, not dessert. If you’re not testing with customers as soon as possible to understand if their problem really exists and that your solution addresses it, then you’re wasting valuable time, effort and resources.
Guess what? If you create a minimum viable product and don't get feedback from a customer, you're still doing waterfall and wasting lots of time.
So from the start, test with customers and use human-centered design.
What is Design Thinking? Tim Brown, president of IDEO gives this definition:
“Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer's toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”
Steve Denning describes why management refuses to buy into Agile.
One argument is that "Agile doesn't fit our organizational culture." Steve states that Agile is more important than your company's culture.
When the culture doesn’t fit Agile, the solution is not to reject Agile. The solution is to change the organizational culture.
The world and marketplace has changed; everything is moving at a faster pace. So the org's culture needs to align with Agile.
In today’s marketplace, they will need to change their culture or they will die. They need to become Agile.
Ideo University offers a class called From Ideas to Action. The class teaches six ways to prototype. Here are two of my favorite prototyping methods.
Create a Story: Tell a story or create a storyboard that shows how your idea solves a problem. Through the story, people experience your idea as if it were real.
Write an Advertisement: Create an advertisement or a brochure that promotes the best part of your idea. I've written brochures for training programs that excited people and provided valuable feedback.
Steve Blank explains how Value Proposition Design feeds into the Business Model Canvas.
Why read Value Proposition Design?
The book captures the core issues around finding customer problems and designing and validating potential solutions.
Many books have been written about Agile software development, while Agile Innovation is one of the few books that shows you how to innovate using an Agile mindset.
The authors slightly alter the second value of the Agile Manifesto, replacing “Working software” with “Working innovations.”
That’s fine because Agile Innovation is about rapid-cycle, iterative development rather than getting it perfect. Instead of a 100-page business case, put a working prototype in the hands of your customers and get customer feedback: Does the prototype work the way you intended? What’s the next step in design?
I also agree when the authors state that teams should complete a rough prototype within two months. When I see a software team work for three months or more without producing working product or even a minimum viable product, those project always fail.
The book provides four new habits that companies should embrace so there’s an environment that will foster the development of prototypes in two months. The second habit resonates with me: The work process must be modified so teams can deliver incremental versions of working products and obtain customer feedback. Then, iterate again.
Throughout the book the authors tap into the deep wisdom of the Agile community and apply Agile principles to innovation.
Because Jeff Sutherland designed the Scrum framework as an object-oriented framework, the authors are able to reuse Scrum for Agile Innovation. Sure, they call it an “Idea Scrum” and the product backlog consists of ideas, and the output of the sprint is an incrementally validated business case; still their Scrum Framework works in iterations and elicits values like working innovations.
As you’d expect, the book also showcases the authors’ creative chops. Coauthor Moses Ma developed an approach called multivisioning, a way to continuously generate ideas by shifting perspective while you brainstorm.
Moses took the concepts from one of my favorite books, Applied Imagination, and combined it with the thinking of Leonardo da Vinci who believed to solve a problem you should learn to see it and structure it in many ways.
There’s a section about Jungian archetypes. We see that Steve Jobs and Leonardo da Vinci are the magician archetype. I especially enjoyed reading da Vinci’s letter to the Duke of Milan; a job application of sorts describing Leonardo’s ten magical skills.
Truth is, Leonardo was the ultimate magician, for his spirit conjured to life his beloved bronze horse five hundred years after he envisioned the bronze beauty.
I don’t have time to write about all the stories and innovation concepts in the book, except to say you’ll enjoy reading the story of Leonidas and the mythic 300 and how it inspires innovation.
You can have the best Agile development team in the world, but if they are given the wrong thing to build, it really won't matter. That's why you should use Lean Startup concepts to validate learning.
I've also taught Agile Marketing so the idea came to me to bracket software development with Lean Startup and Agile Marketing. This can be a crazy-powerful lever that a CEO would love to have at her fingertips.
This Openview article discusses using Scrum for business projects.
When I introduce Scrum to business teams, I focus on two key questions.
1. What product will the team produce by the end of the sprint?
In marketing, the finished product could be a white paper or a campaign. We want to create some form of finished product by the end of sprint and knowing what the finished product is helps our planning. For a white paper, we may break it down into an outline and key sections. Knowing the product we're building leads to the second question.
2. What people need to be on the cross-functional team to build the product?
We don't want to waste time convincing people in a silo that they need to work on our project. We want them to be part of the team from the start. So we identify all team members needed to complete the product by sprint's end.
You may also want T-shaped people on your team because they have the ability to work on multiple tasks, and that means the team will complete more features during a sprint.
Show early prototypes to customers
If your company creates a fully functioning prototype early on, show the prototype to your customers and get feedback fast.
Take advantage of early adopters' eagerness to try new products
Customers are often eager to experiment with partnerships and co-create opportunities. These partnerships provide valuable learning early in the development process.
Pilot in one area first
Instead of launching a product in every business unit or customer segment, pilot the product in one segment. This way you'll learn if your strategy works before you start to scale.
Create a "concierge MVP"
A team could not see why it took six weeks to get the authority to post a job description online. So they created a concierge MVP: an internal web page where they were free to enter the job description and get the approvals themselves. This approach revealed what was causing the delay.
The notion of a minimum viable product is one of the most powerful concepts on the planet. Simply embrace MVP and you'll accelerate learning, while saving time and money.
Steve Denning writes that an Agile mindset matters more than technology.
These findings come from the research performed by the Learning Consortium, a group that conducted nine onsite visits to companies using Agile development.
What's the most important finding? Changes in mindset are more important than changes in hardware or software.
The report lists six concepts common to the mindset. Here are three: