The team all went to leancamp in UCD last Saturday and I thought it would be great to share what I learned from the different speakers at Leancamp. I also thought it might be good to share my thoughts on it from a novices perspective and finish with a note on what I thought of the on-conference format.
He took time out and gave it one week to determine whether there was a business or not.
His hypothesis was that customers who have issues solved for them are more loyal than those who have never had an issue as they have a level of trust. It was also that customers who’s feedback was sought after the case were not always likely to give it, but they may share with friends and family a bad experience for some time after it.
His idea was to capture this feedback in real time, when it was possible to resolve the issue before it festered into a bigger issue.
Throughout his dev process he looked at having his product as an app but felt this alienated part of his core market and then decided against it, as some may not use smart phones.
Not entirely valuable for a leancamp, felt it was more of a sales pitch of his product as opposed to getting any real insight on customer feedback using lean processes. Still interesting to see how quick the process was from idea to customer.
2. Rob Fitzpatrick: Customer Interviews
Highly animated Rob was my speaker of the day. He had some great insights on asking customers questions.
His rule was that the questions asked should pass the “mom” test.
Do you think my idea is great?
Mom: Of course it is!
If you pose your question like this, it can be hard to get real qualitative feedback.
The hypothesis behind this being; people are generally unlikely to insult you but are also quite optimistic.
e.g. will you do more exercise this year?
This is an optimistic answer and in fact, has no bearing on reality.
Rob’s approach to customer insight interviews is different. His questioning passes the mom test by asking questions such as:
“what are your issues in relation to bla?”
“how do you currently get around these issues?”
“can you give me an example?”
“is there a budget for getting around the issue?”
His approach also gets rid of the optimistic answers, he doesn’t refer to future issues, the here and now and how issues are currently dealt with is better to get a clearer and more qualitative insight.
The line of questioning forces customers to deal with real pain points and think about the current situation and how they in fact deal with issues.
The questioning should NOT be about your product, it’s about customer issues. Someone telling you that you have a great product is not an affirmation that you are doing things right, it’s an affirmation of the hypothesis that if you nag someone enough they will eventually tell you what you want to hear.
Great bit of customer insight when questioning them: “deal with customers where they are, not where you want them to be”. I’m sure i read that somewhere before .
Great insights and really practical advice that makes a lot of practical sense.
His shoes must have trampolines in them.
Rob and Saul (Salim Virani) own this company and their presentation was about how they use braintrust to share the knowledge, to gauge issues and to get insights from others on how they might solve them.
On the whole BrainTrust appeared to be a type of knowledge share.
Interesting to note that Rob does not follow his own advice or indeed stick to the lean process to resolve issues! When challenged on some issues he was having with a project, he said that he in fact had not gleaned anything from prospective customers on whether he was building something that people even wanted!
4: Blogging with Joel from Bufferapp
Joel gave a presentation via Skype on his approach to blogging. While a lot of the presentation was hard to hear, it was possible to glean some insight on the types of blogs that perform well.
He said that List posts perform better than others in blogging.
i.e. Top 10 tips on blogging.
Other top performing blog articles are “how to..” guides.
With regard to planning and researching posts, his advice was to copy others until you get better and more familiar.
Check what similar companies in your industry blog about and gain inspiration from there.
PRACTICE, with practice, makes perfect! he reckons about 100 posts will get you to a decent level of blogging and be able to come up with your own!
Great for some information on blogging and Joel’s own experience.
5: Rory O’Connor : Scurri.com Tools
We are all only too well aware of Rory, but for those who aren’t so aware. I will give a little insight.
Rory’s style was a little different to the others. He started with a presentation on the tools that we use in Scurri. This appeared to excite the listeners, This may have had a lot to do with the fact that the audience were able to see tools as apposed to a fully viable tested business talking about using Lean in hindsight.
We are a business looking for our MVP and are still in the early stages in some respects. This may have resonated with some of the audience and some only had the ideas that they were only looking at starting to develop.
The audience engaged a lot more than in the other presentations, and there was a lot of appreciative nodding and “ah now i get it”s.
6. A3 Thinking with Claudio Perrone
Claudio defines a problem as the gap between expectation and the current situation.
His question is always, What is the expectation? not whose fault is it. He finds this thinking useless. No blaming and no finger pointing.
His approach was as follows:
Why are we talking about it?
What is the consequence of doing it the same way?
Landing issue: Doesn’t land properly.
⅜ planes land correctly
Target (on the way to goal)
Divide the different causing issues into categories:
Environment: Open window causing draft
Tools: paper not heavy enough
Design: no one knew how to create aeroplane
Apply 5 whys to each issue
What could we implement to improve:
Get successful designers to create planes
use heavier paper
Then engage in feasibility studies to determine which solution is the best fit.
This was the point at which the session was over, but he rushed through this point to say that these measures may or may not work.
The new level then becomes the standard which again can be improved upon by going through process once again.
Would have been interested to see rest of presentation. Had some resonance with me as i had been speaking with Darren during the week about the application of the 5 whys approach.
Could definitely see the benefit of working an issue through from start to finish. Especially liked the filter at the start, “what is the consequence of doing things the same way”, this element was good to determine the actual need at this point in time.
7. Kanban Fishbowl with Lucas Fittl, Saul (Salim) Virani and Claudio Perrone
This part of the day was really about seeing how the different experts used Kanban for their businesses.
It then followed with Claudio challenging the correct use of the Kanban board and whether there was elements being forgotten / missed out on / or left open to interpretation.
This bit was interesting as it was the different experts opening themselves up to scrutiny of claudio and their use of the the Kanban. It was interesting to note that in the morning scheduling session, Claudio gave the impression that he would dissect and challenge them on their use but in the actual session, he had to be pushed to tell them exactly what he thought, but when he did open it all up, it was interesting the note the pensive looks on peoples’ faces.
OVERVIEW ON THE DAY AS A WHOLE
It was interesting to note that as a team visiting leancamp, Scurri does appear to have a better grasp and working knowledge of the different aspects of working lean, and not just talking lean.
A lot of people who came to the on-conference at leancamp didn’t appear to use it as much as I personally would have expected them to. I expected us to be immersed in a group who were using Lean and were questioning it and how it could be tweaked for them, as apposed to the reality where there were people there who appeared to have very little background knowledge of it at all.
On reflection i wonder if people have been reading books such as Eric Ries and wonder if it is a cheaper way to start a business in more challenging times. From my experience at the On-conference there does appear to be a lot of people picking from the lean box the bits they like, and leaving the bits they don’t either like or understand.
With regard to the positive aspects of the day, it definitely does feel like an efficient way sharing of knowledge and experience with others.
It’s also interesting to see how my own thinking has changed in terms of where I was before I started with the team and now. I do, of course blame Rory for my helpful suggestions to two innocent people who were protecting their ideas with all their might, “cuz someone might steal it.” I said that they would likely to be told that it was a challenge to GET their idea stolen.
I also think its really interesting to note that the whole idea of thinking Lean, is definitely an emerging concept but that it is a moving target in the sense, that i don’t think there is one perfect and working model of Lean, but a lot of different peoples/ businesses/or experts interpretation of it.
With regard to the on-conference as a set up.
I thought leancamp was going to be a right mess when people were lining up (such as Darren and Rory, of course) to talk about what they were going to do a half hour session on, I mean, Scurri’s own experience of post its’ isn’t great! When I saw there was no schedule, and I saw the different speakers putting up post it notes to determine where their talk was going to be on, I thought it was going to be a farce, but it actually worked really well.