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Restriction driven simplicity
Jan 20th, 2012 by Joca

I just returned from vacation and was reviewing some photos in my cel phone when I found some old photos from a previous trip to SF. In the airport there was an exhibition about TV sets and some old remote controls got my attention. Here’s a picture of them:

Old TV remote control

Old TV remote control

Checkout the number of buttons in the remote control. The maximum is 4. There are some remotes with only one button. When I was a kid I remember the first TV bought in my house with a remote control that had only 2 buttons, one for volume and other for changing channel. That simple! That was around 1975. At the time, the technology for making a remote control was too expansive, so it could not be too complicated and have too many buttons, otherwise it would be too expansive to be sold in the market. That was the restriction that drove the simplicity of those 1st generation remote control. Now we don’t have that restriction and we get remotes that can accomplish much more tasks but are way more complex. Take a look at the picture below (and I even picked a not-so-complex one!):

Digital TV Remote Control

Digital TV Remote Control

So maybe next time we want to design something more simple, we can think of imposing some restrictions to the design process! 🙂

4 people like this post.

Using checklists to deal with the unexpected
Jan 2nd, 2012 by Joca

I mentioned earlier about “The Checklist Manifesto” book. The post was originally written in Portuguese but you can find a Google translation here. In this post I mentioned about the use of checklist in surgeries and other medical procedures and how we could use checklists in the IT environment.

I was reviewing my Kindle highlights for this book and found this highlight:

Surgery has, essentially, four big killers wherever it is done in the world: infection, bleeding, unsafe anesthesia, and what can only be called the unexpected. For the first three, science and experience have given us some straightforward and valuable preventive measures we think we consistently follow but don’t. These misses are simple failures — perfect for a classic checklist. And as a result, all the researchers’ checklists included precisely specified steps to catch them.

But the fourth killer — the unexpected — is an entirely different kind of failure, one that stems from the fundamentally complex risks entailed by opening up a person’s body and trying to tinker with it. Independently, each of the researchers seemed to have realized that no one checklist could anticipate all the pitfalls a team must guard against. So they had determined that the most promising thing to do was just to have people stop and talk through the case together — to be ready as a team to identify and address each patient’s unique, potentially critical dangers.

Dr. Gawande found out that in order to address the unexpected, checklists should not only include task checks but also communication checks. Dr. Gawande got to that conclusion visiting a 700,000-square-foot office and apartment complex construction site with between two to five hundred workers on-site on any give day managed by a man called Finn O’Sullivan. The volume of knowledge and degree of complexity O’Sullivan manages is impressive and it was as monstrous as anything Dr. Gawande had encountered in medicine. Here’s the explanation:

It was also a checklist, but it didn’t specify construction tasks; it specified communication tasks. For the way the project managers dealt with the unexpected and the uncertain was by making sure the experts spoke to one another — on X date regarding Y process. The experts could make their individual judgments, but they had to do so as part of a team that took one another’s concerns into account, discussed unplanned developments, and agreed on the way forward. While no one could anticipate all the problems, they could foresee where and when they might occur. The checklist therefore detailed who had to talk to whom, by which date, and about what aspect of construction — who had to share (or “submit”) particular kinds of information before the next steps could proceed.

The submittal schedule specified, for instance, that by the end of the month the contractors, installers, and elevator engineers had to review the condition of the elevator cars traveling up to the tenth floor. The elevator cars were factory constructed and tested. They were installed by experts. But it was not assumed that they would work perfectly. Quite the opposite. The assumption was that anything could go wrong, anything could get missed. What? Who knows? That’s the nature of complexity. But it was also assumed that, if you got the right people together and had them take a moment to talk things over as a team rather than as individuals, serious problems could be identified and averted.

So next time you design a checklist, remember to include not only task checks but also communication checks.

3 people like this post.

Agile Product Discovery in a Non-Startup Environment – Building MVPs
Nov 29th, 2011 by Joca

As mentioned in my first post about Agile Product Discovery, I’m trying to take the ideas I used in my lean startup experiment (phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3) in a non-startup environment.

Locaweb has almost 700 employees now. We ended 2010 with approximately $100M in revenue. We have around 130 people in our engineering group which include software developers, system administrators, user experience designers and product managers. We decided to use the SaaS team – around 25 people – as the group who will be part of the experiment.

In phase 1 we worked on figuring out what to do. The next phase is building the MVPs!

Organizing the team

From the 10 ideas we tested, 6 had enough traction to motivate us to build the MVPs, i.e., the minimal viable product. However, one of them was not simple enough to be developed as an MVP in 1 week so we decided to move on with 5 MVPs. The self-organized into 5 groups of 5 people each to work on developing the 5 MVPs. We wanted the groups to have focus during a whole week, so the groups were allowed to work in a different place so they ware not disturbed by daily work. Since we could not leave the company without anyone capable to deal with daily needs of our existing SaaS products, we decided to have 2 teams working during one week and the other 3 teams working during the next week.

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

The MVPs

And with no further ado, here are the MVPs:

Lessons learned

  • It was good to have the teams fully focused for a whole week.
  • Since we put in the same team people who are not used to work together, it was a bit difficult to estimate the effort and many times we under estimated the effort.
  • In some products we believe we didn’t get the M for minimal correctly. We may have built sub-minimal viable products that may require another week to get to the minimal level.
  • Back to the daily activities of the non-startup environment it’s a bit difficult put some energy, even a small amount, to the MVPs.

Next steps

Now we are measuring the interest in each of the MVPs. We intend to have another Agile Product Discovery week in Feb/2012. During this week we intend not only to discover new products, but also work on the existing MVPs, specially those that we believe are sub-minimal.

3 people like this post.

Lean startup experiment, phase 3: product launch
Oct 30th, 2011 by Joca

My lean startup experiment is an experiment I’m running to see if it is possible to launch a successful product (product = customer facing software system) without spending too much money and in a short period of time.

In phase 1 I had 5 product ideas and wanted to know in which should I invest.

In phase 2 I pick the idea with more interest from phase 1 and invested in creating the MVP (Minimal Viable Product), ContaCal, a calorie counter system.

My phase 3 objectives were:

  • website launch
  • online campaign (Google, Facebook, Orkut, etc.)
  • real users feedback!

Website launch

I officially launched ContaCal on Sep 4th sending an email to all existing users plus the people who showed some interested during phase 1.

Online campaign

I used Google and Facebook. Both generate leads, but Google generated 3 to 4 times more leads than Facebook for my specific web application. Today I’m running a $30/day campaign in AdWords ($1500/month) and I don’t increase it because ContaCal still doesn’t generate any revenue. As soon as I find a sustainable revenue source for ContaCal I’ll certainly increase this investment.

During a certain period my web site was out for maintenance and Google suspended my AdWords campaign. It took 8 days and many emails sent with one or two replies for Google to resume my campaign. This hurter my new user subscription rate.

Real users feedback

I received tons of feedback. Some asking for additional features, some with difficulties in using the system and some thank me for the system! 🙂

Based on the feedback, I used some additional development as well as adjustments to the site layout. That costed me around $1000.

Some statistics

Below you can find some statistics about new users and how this number relates to certain events.

ContaCal users

ContaCal users

Total cost and time so far: $9,025 – 2 months and 3 weeks

  • Phase 1 (idea funnel): $1,600 – 2 weeks
    • 5 product ideas pages in unbounce: $50
    • 5 Google AdWords campaign: $1,500
    • 5 Domain registration: $50
  • Phase 2 (MVP): $3,425 – 1 week
    • crowd sourced logo: $310
    • wordpress template: $35
    • wordpress template adjustments: $80
    • startup dev MVP development: $3,000
  • Phase 3 (Launch + campaign + feedback): $4,000 – 2 months
    • Campaign: $3,000 ($1,500/month)
    • Application and layout adjustments: $1,000

Stay tuned for the next steps

  • the search for a revenue stream!!!
2 people like this post.

#BoS2011 day 3 notes
Oct 26th, 2011 by Joca

Today was day 3 of Business of Software 2011, aka, #BoS2011. Checkout my notes on day 1 and day 2 if you haven’t done that yet.

Again good speakers and interesting topics, but again nothing really new for those who follow product management, agile software development and startup related feeds.

I guess the good thing of attending BoS is not exactly the content, that you can get through the net. It’s the opportunity to meet in person lots of people from the software industry and exchange experiences and opinions.

Below are some tweets and references. And again from the number of tweets it’s easy to spot the talks that brought me more new stuff. 😛

Paul Kenny

  • Introverts think in order to speak. Extroverts speak to help them think. @PaulKennyOL at #BoS2011.
  • Introversion and extroversion are preferences, not boxes we are stuck in. @PaulKennyOL at #BoS2011
  • My close suggestion: is there anything we can do to help you make a decision? Inspired by @PaulKennyOL at #BoS2011
  • A nice close RT @GaryAres: #bos2011 For everything you have heard so far is there any reason we cannot do business?
  • Use the NOs in a sales closing as a learning experience and ask: do you mind telling me why? @PaulKennyOL at #BoS2011.
  • When you ask, wait for the answer. @PaulKennyOL at #BoS2011.
  • @paulkennyol A lot of businesses failed from not asking than from asking #BoS2011
  • There’s much more to learn from qualified no than from unqualified yes. Ask questions to work on closing that deal! @PaulKennyOL #BoS2011
  • Asking aids the decision making process. @PaulKennyOL at #BoS2011.
  • #BoS2011 @PaulKennyOL Closing is the natural progression in the conversation… Feels weird if you do not ask for a decision…
  • Closing is what you do for a customer and not to a customer. @PaulKennyOL at #BoS2011.
  • @PaulKennyOL “Sales Constipation could happen because your don’t want to hear what they have to say about your product.” #BoS2011
  • You can’t have delighted customers without customers in the 1st place. Techies- close your deals!! @paulkennyol #bos2011
  • We need to stop “unteaching” our kids on how to be entrepreneurs. @PaulKennyOL at #BoS2011.
  • Kids know how to close. @PaulKennyOL at #BoS2011.
  • We don’t like closing. @PaulKennyOL at #BoS2011 Google “Alec Baldwin ABC” to see how not to do it.
  • @paulkennyOL You are a founder therefore you are a salesperson #BoS2011

You can find more at Product Principles blog: The Art of Asking

Paul Kenny (@PaulKennyOL)

Paul Kenny (@PaulKennyOL)

David Cancel

  • A customer suggests you a feature. You reply “great suggestion, will cost X”. The customer says “oh, ok. I don’t need it”. @dcancel #BoS2011
  • Average conversion rate in the us is 2% (for Elephants or iPods) via @google #bos2011 via @dcancel (via @johnprendergast)
  • @ProductPrincipl you are amazingly fast! 🙂 #BoS2011
  • It’s not about the data. It’s about the learning so you can make your customers happier. @dcancel at #BoS2011.
  • @dcancel presenting churn, NPS and cohort at #BoS2011.
  • Shared metrics == clear feedback loops #bos2011 via @dcancel
  • “Go do it” “Do it faster” “Do both” #jfdi @dcancel at #BoS2011
  • Optimize your business for learning, not data. #bos2011 via @dcancel
  • “Data alone is useless” – thank God someone said it. #BoS2011
  • We have an strategic plan. It’s *doing* things. #JFDI. @dcancel at #BoS2011.
  • In God we trust; for the rest bring data. @dcancel at #BoS2011.

You can find more at Product Principles blog: Creating a Data-driven Business

Dave Cancel (@dcancel)

Dave Cancel (@dcancel)

Alexis Ohanian

  • “Your UX tells me how much you respect me.” – @kn0thing #BoS2011
  • How can you make the world suck less with software? @kn0thing at #BoS2011.

Alexis Ohanian (@kn0thing)

Alexis Ohanian (@kn0thing)

And to end the conference, chinese grab-and-go food. My chines fortune cookie says: “You income will increase.” with that typo! It’s not saying “your income…”. It says “you income…”. I wonder what that means. 🙂

I suggested @SGBlank, @Cagan, @JurgenAppelo and Roy Singham, ThoughtWorks founder and chairman, as speakers for next year.

Now flying back home.

See you in #BoS2012.

1 person likes this post.

#BoS2011 day 2 notes
Oct 25th, 2011 by Joca

Today was day 2 of Business of Software 2011, aka, #BoS2011. Checkout my notes on day 1 if you haven’t done that yet.

Beautiful day in Boston Seaport area

Beautiful day in Boston Seaport area

Full room at #BoS2011

Full room at #BoS2011

Again good speakers and interesting topics, but again nothing really new for those who follow product management, agile software development and startup related feeds.

I guess the good thing of attending BoS is not exactly the content, that you can get through the net. It’s the opportunity to meet in person lots of people from the software industry and exchange experiences and opinions.

One thing I noticed is that there are many people attending BoS who are from the old software model industry, the one based on licenses and on-premise installation. Good to see they are at BoS looking to understand that software is moving into hosted based subscription model. 🙂

Below are some tweets and references. And again from the number of tweets it’s easy to spot the talks that brought me more new stuff. 😛

Patrick McKenzie

  • Advice from @patio11 at #BoS2011: don’t make desktop software.
  • RT @PaulKennyOL: A culture of testing is better than a culture of ask the boss Patrick McKenzie #BoS2011
  • Everyone ran your software for the first time. 30-40% second time users is common. First impressions are critical. #BoS2011
  • The last 5 man-years of development isn’t visible in the first 3 seconds. (So A/B test the headline.)
  • A/B testing often tells us things we don’t want to hear, like the design isn’t helping.
  • Your 100-man-years of engineering isn’t as important as wordsmithing your site’s headline copy @patio11 #bos2011
  • Systematic A/B testing prints money. @patio11 at #BoS2011.
  • Most common outcome of A/B testing: no significant change. @patio11 at #BoS2011
  • Did hiding extraneous settings behind “advanced” link improve conversions? Yes, by 16% #BoS2011
  • Simplify to improve conversion rates. Make advanced config optional. @patio11 at #BoS2011
  • Shorter is probably better in a web sales funnel. @patio11 at #BoS2011
  • “There are 30 words of Japanese that have made it into English.. 15 of them are meteorological events that can kill you” ~ @patio11 #BoS2011
  • @patio11 #BoS2011 Engineers see marketing as witchcraft… LOL
  • Math and Science always work. @patio11 at #BoS2011

You can find more at Product Principles blog: Engineering Your Marketing Outcomes

Patrick McKenzie (@patio11)

Patrick McKenzie (@patio11)

Laura Fitton

  • To find time for social media, find a problem you’re already solving another way and figure out how to solve it via social media. #BoS2011
  • “You don’t get a prize for getting the most followers or friends. You get a prize for growing the business.” ~@pistachio #BoS2011
  • “If you’re not blogging about your product or service you’re throwing money away” @pistachio at #BoS2011
  • Cool – the underwear gnomes cartoon. youtu.be/TBiSI6OdqvA #BoS2011
  • Get found. Convert. Measure what matters. @pistachio at #BoS2011.
  • And repeat! RT @JocaTorres: Listen. Learn. Care. Serve. @pistachio at #BoS2011.
  • Listen. Learn. Care. Serve. @pistachio at #BoS2011.
  • Don’t tweet the title. Extract useful info from the article and then tweet. @pistachio at #BoS2011.
  • We are moving from “one to many” to “any to many”. Anyone can be the root of a big message. ~@pistachio #BoS2011
  • Two word secret of social media – Be useful. @pistachio at #BoS2011

You can find more at Product Principles blog: Business of Social – What B2B and B2C Software Companies Need to Know About Social Media

Laura Fitton (@pistachio)

Laura Fitton (@pistachio)

Josh Linkner

  • RT @theospears: Brainstorming while pretending to be someone else frees you up to be creative ~@JoshLinker #BoS2011
  • RoleStorming as an option to BrainStorming. @joshlinkner at #BoS2011.
  • “Watch out for group-think. Group-think is that poisonous thinking that waters down your best ideas.” via @joshlinkner at #BoS2011
  • Mistakes are the portals to discovery ~@joshlinkner #BoS2011
  • Playing it safe is the riskier movement possible. From failure you learn. From success not so much. @joshlinkner at #BoS2011.
  • The five whys – Louis CK – hilarious youtu.be/4u2ZsoYWwJA #BoS2011
  • Because things that aren’t just can’t be. Ask “why?” to see where you can get. @joshlinkner at #BoS2011.
  • Being creative? RT @FastFedora: Why stop at standing desks? Practicing standing conferences. Join me at the back of the room. #BoS2011
  • Why? What if? Why not? – 3 qns to foster creativity #Bos2011
  • Metaphor for business shifts Symphony orchestra with conductor => Jazz where NOT taking risks is frowned upon. #BoS2011
  • Creativity is 85% learned behavior. @joshlinkner at #BoS2011.
  • Great metaphor for decline in creativity in today’s society by @joshlinkner at #BoS2011 – Lego toys. From fun to following instructions
  • I disagree that there’s a creativity crisis. Difficult times foster creativity, hence the huge startup and entrepeneurial movement. #BoS2011
  • When your head is up you notice things. @JoshLinkner at #BoS2011.
  • Josh Linkner livestreaming at #BoS2011 Encyclopedia Britannica was Google for 219 years before Google bit.ly/eQRD5g

You can find more at Product Principles blog: Unleashing Creativity

Josh Linkner (@JoshLinkner)

Josh Linkner (@JoshLinkner)

Checkout this funny video about asking why. I purposely set the video to start at 6m20s so you can jump directly to the why joke:

Rory Sutherland

  • The “IBM at terminal 5” video presented by Rory Sutherland at #BoS2011: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_F1NVxmsa9I
  • “All models are wrong, but some of them are useful.” #bos2011
  • R. Sutherland “In most cases we act and then just post-rationalize our decisions” #BoS2011
  • Rory Sutherland (wonderful speaker): “If your restaurant has the slight smell of sewage around it–don’t try to improve the food.” #bos2011
  • “Absorbing information contradicting our prejudices registers in the same part of the brain where we feel pain” via @rorysutherland #BoS2011
  • RT @dharmesh @rorysutherland “people aren’t aware of their own heuristics. They will derive to rationalize they’re maximizers. ” #BoS2011
  • Rory Sutherland explains the importance of communicating with the “lizard’s brain” at #BoS2011
  • Videoconferencing shd have been positioned differently. instead of poor man’s airplane it she have been “rich man’s telephone call” #Bos2011
  • Don’t end up as the cheap inferior substitute for something else. #BoS2011
  • Our perception of everything (including value), is “relativistic” (sic) and contextual. #Bos2011 Rory Sutherland
  • R. Sutherland “people aren’t aware of their own heuristics.” #BoS2011 they will derive to rationalize they’re maximizers
  • Problem with market research: people don’t behave as usual in a market research. #BoS2011
  • The default option is “do nothing”. Rory Sutherland at #BoS2011.
  • People look for things that satisfices than maximizes. If not, why people go to McDonalds? Rory Sutherland at #BoS2011.
  • The here and now really matters to our lizard brains. Rory Sutherland at #BoS2011.
  • Praxeology – Austrian term for human behavior and decision-making. @RorySutherland at #BoS2011
  • Break tasks into sub tasks to increase probability of completion. #chunking explained by Rory Sutherland at #BoS2011.
  • “What’s bad about waiting for a train isn’t waiting. It’s uncertainty.” #BoS2011
  • “Creativity is policed by rationality, but rationality goes unpoliced.” Rory Sutherland is a trip. #BoS2011
  • If you think creativity is expensive, you should try logic. #BoS2011

You can find more at Product Principles blog: Praxeology – Lessons from a Lost Science

Rory Sutherland (@RorySutherland)

Rory Sutherland (@RorySutherland)

Checkout the IBM’s Wimbledon Lotus T5 campaign presented by Rory at the end of his talk:

Lightning Talks

  • Lightning Talks really exceptional. Well done @coreyreid @kjtreier @justingoeres @patrickfoley @tylerrooney #BoS2011
  • Congrats @JustinGoeres! “@JocaTorres: Justin Goeres won the Lightning Talk contest at #BoS2011.

Justin Goeres (@JustinGoeres)

Justin Goeres (@JustinGoeres)

Michael McDerment

  • “I think you should be developing benefits, not features.” @mikemcderment at #BoS2011.
  • Pristine code without customers is a pyrrhic victory. @MikeMcDerment #BoS2011 #prodmgmt
  • Name tiers based on customer type? (funny/cute names vs descriptive) Lost a million dollars. Clever names won. @mikemcderment #BoS2011
  • Video convert 20% LESS than screenshots as demo tools. @mikemcderment at #BoS2011.
  • Slide after slid of exponential product growth curves. Lesson: launch early. #BoS2011
  • I guess you meant 2004? RT @dharmesh: Freshbooks has grown to over 3.5 million users since starting in 2044. #BoS2011

You can find more at Product Principles blog: A Litany of Product Management Mistakes at FreshBooks

Michael McDerment (@MikeMcDerment)

Michael McDerment (@MikeMcDerment)

Peldi interviews John Nese from Soda Pop Stop

First, you need to watch this video:

Obsessives: Soda Pop from CHOW.com on Vimeo.

  • If you quit, you defeat yourself! John Nese #BoS2011
  • It’s very easy to make decisions when you are broke. John Nese at #BoS2011.
  • John Neese – a man who loves what he does is inspiring at #bos2011 – please support sodapopstop.com
  • John Nese is a fantastic example of gentle competition and democratization of decision on products (resisting statu quo) #BoS2011 #hatsoff
  • I’m sitting at a software conference listening to John Nese talking about craft sodas sodapopstop.com @bosconference #BoS2011 #awesome
  • RT @admarsenal #bos2011 @Balsmiq to John Nese at sodapopstop.com. Question: What kind of metrics do you collect? Answer: What kind of what?
  • Peldi: “You’re the CEO”, John Nese: “So, that’s just three letters!” #BoS2011
  • We should not be creating jobs. We should be creating wealth. John Nese at #BoS2011.
  • +1 RT @AriH: Conversation with the guy from the Soda Pop Shop is putting a smile on my face. #BoS2011
  • John Nees thinks people need to pay their dues – no starting at the top, you need to understand it through experience at all levels #BoS2011
  • Don’t be afraid to fail cos you are going to do well – John Nese @ SodaPopStop #bos2011
  • John Nese summarizes Cincinnatus bit.ly/vXbUSY “You have to do what you have to do” #BoS2011
  • I never work. I go there everyday and play! John Nese at #BoS2011
  • RT @mitmads Thanks John Nese for your advice “You own your shelf space” #BoS2011
  • I love the contagious enthusiasm of this guy when he talks about artisanal soda pops. Great to see people who love life. #bos2011
  • RT @MichaelNozbe Fantastic testimonial by John Nese of SodaPopStop. Amazing story 🙂 #BoS2011 instagr.am/p/RchP8/
  • The biz world needs more people like John Nees. #BoS2011

You can find more at Product Principles blog: An Interview with John Nese

Peldi and John Nese

Peldi and John Nese

4 people like this post.

#BoS2011 day 1 notes
Oct 25th, 2011 by Joca

Today was day 1 of Business of Software 2011, aka, #BoS2011. This is my first time in this conference suggested to me by Dov Bigio (@dovb).

Good speakers and interesting topics, although nothing really new for those who follow product management, agile software development and startup related feeds.

Below are some tweets and references. From the number of tweets it’s easy to spot the talks that brought me something new. 😛

Clayton Christensen

  • Look at Netflix and Quikster through a “job to be done” perspective.
  • Wise words to financiers – best way to measure profitabilty is not by ratios, but by tonnes of money on bottom line.
  • Do not need traditional marketing – need to understand the “job” completely to create pull rather than push.
  • You need to invest when you don’t need the results of the investment. Innovation is a long term investment.
  • When you aggregate feedback, you wind up with “one size fits none” products.
  • “The customer rarely buys what the company thinks it is selling them” – Peter Drucker quoted by Prof. Christensen
  • The unit of analysis is job, not customer. It’s not what cust. thinks he needs, it’s what job needs to be done.
  • @ClayChristensen explained that the customer is the wrong unit of analysis. It’s the job the customer needs to get done.
  • Christensen on competing: Pick a fight where the giant is motivated to flee rather than to fight you.
  • If you make something affordable and simple, the market will be much larger than your competitors.
  • Disruptive innovations have different measures of performance. (We tend to forget that).
  • When competing against non-consumption, you just have to be better than nothing.
  • Extension of the Innovators Dilemma – If we could build a company that would disrupt our company. How would we do it?
  • Focusing on profitable customers can blind you as to long term market changes @ClayChristensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma.
  • On sustaining innovation: “If you do everything we teach B.School, you’ll fail in the long term”

You can find more at Product Principles blog: Highlights: Clay Christensen at Business of Software 2011

Clayton Christensen (@ClayChristensen)

Clayton Christensen (@ClayChristensen)

Jason Cohen

  • @asmartbear talks about honesty in business at #BoS2011. Does honesty makes more money for businesses? Short answer: yes!
  • Great talk on genuine honesty by @asmartbear #BoS2011
  • In a biz interaction, ask yourself, “why did you lie?” Is small immediate benefit offset by larger loss of trust. #BoS2011

You can find more at Product Principles blog: Naked Business – How Honesty Makes Money

Jason Cohen (@asmartbear)

Jason Cohen (@asmartbear)

Honesty

Honesty

Alex Osterwalder

  • Having fun filling out a business model canvas at Alex Osterwalder’s talk at #BoS2011
  • The right business model is the difference between success and #failure. #bos2011
  • Explore and create new business models. You may design one that suits your business better- Alex Osterwalder #bos2011

Alex Osterwalder (@business_design)

Alex Osterwalder (@business_design)

Business Model Canvas

Business Model Canvas

Dharmesh Shah

  • #BoS2011 is an interesting conference for companies willing to make the move from license model to the online subscription model.
  • I have never ever met a successful software company where the early team didn’t work their asses off. Not once.
  • “We are not a family. We are a team.” From Netflix culture.
  • New price model: “cheapium”!
  • You need humans to sell when product is complex, market is new or price is somewhat high.
  • That’s the future of software business model: RT @MarkDalgarno If you’re not on a subscription model now, get on it!
  • CHI – Customer Happiness Index – is better than churn because it measures customer’s success.
  • Negative churn rates = more upgrades than cancelation.
  • Types of churn: customer, revenue, discretionary and involuntary.

You can find more at Product Principles blog: Building Bad-ass Software Businesses

Dharmesh Shah (@dharmesh)

Dharmesh Shah (@dharmesh)

Jeff Lawson

  • @jeffiel just lightly touched the consumer SaaS biz model topic. Basicaly: ads. #BoS2011.
  • I wonder if someone will talk about software for consumers, specially pricing for consumer SaaS. #BoS2011
  • The 3 “mating calls” of SaaS companies: “(1) tour, (2) pricing, (3) sign up and get going” #BoS2011

You can find more at Product Principles blog: Pricing that Hot Saas

Jeff Lawson (@jeffiel)

Jeff Lawson (@jeffiel)

Tobias Lütke

  • Don’t start a company with the purpose of making money. @tobi at #BoS2011.
  • Agree 100% RT @stephenmedawar: Success doesn’t make you right – @tobi #bos2011
  • Our responsibility is to build companies that don’t embarrass us in 100yrs time. #bos2011

Tobias Lütke (@tobi)

Tobias Lütke (@tobi)

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Agile Product Discovery in a Non-Startup Environment
Sep 15th, 2011 by Joca

I mentioned here about my lean startup Experiment (phase 1 and phase 2). I’ll post an update on this topic soon.

Here I want to share another experiment I’m running. I’m trying to take the ideas I used in my lean startup experiment in a non-startup environment.

Locaweb has almost 700 employees now. We ended 2010 with approximately $100M in revenue. We have around 130 people in our engineering group which include software developers, system administrators, user experience designers and product managers. We decided to use the SaaS team – around 25 people – as the group who will be part of the experiment.

I presented to the group my lean startup experiment and proposed that we experimented doing the same.

So we now have 4 phases for the Agile Product Discovery:

  • Phase 1: figure out what to do
  • Phase 2: specify the product
  • Phase 3: implement the product
  • Phase 4: monitor the product performance

We decided to break phase 1 into 3 steps domes in 3 different days in small chunks of 3 hours each. However, we realized that it would be more beneficial to work on the 3 steps in one full day instead of breaking it into 3 separate sessions in different days.

Phase 1 – Step 1 – Product Ideas

First phase of the experiment was to brainstorm product ideas. We used 2.5 hours for this phase. We divided the group into 5 groups of 5 people each and the groups have to come up with product ideas or feature ideas for existing products. The only constraints were that the idea should be targeted to SMBs, the target segment for Locaweb. Should not be targeted to niche groups such as lawyers or medical doctors. Should be possible to develop an MVP (Minimal Viable Product) in 2 days with no interruptions.

Each group come up with 10+ ideas so we were able to generate a total of 50+ ideas. Each group had to filter the ideas down to 5. Then each group presented the ideas to the rest of the team, who made questions and decided what ideas to move to phase 2. At the end of the session we decided not to included any features of existing products, only new products should go to the next phase. We end up with 13 products in our list!


Phase 1 – Step 2 – What Is The Problem?

For phase 2 we got more 3 hours. During 2.5 hours the 25 people self organized to define for each product what was the problem that the product was solving, for the problem will be solved and why it is worth to solve this problem.

From the 13 products that came out from phase 1, we dropped 4 and kept 9.



Phase 1 – Step 3 – Creating Pages and Ads

In step 3 we created the pages using unbounce and the campaigns with Google AdWords.


Final remarks about phase 1

This is it for phase 1 – figuring out what to do.

It’s a bit harder to do product discovery in a non-startup environment. Even if you have full support from senior management, it’s difficult to get away from day-to-day tasks. For this reason, as I mentioned earlier, I suggest doing the phase 1 in a full day and not divided into 3 steps in different days as we did.

Other than that, the creative process from idea generation to single page plus ad implementation was quite fun and engaging. The team was really energized. 🙂

In future posts I’ll comment on the results of phase 1 and the work done in phases 2 and 3. Stay tuned!

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Pick your battles
Sep 1st, 2011 by Joca

There’s a Seth Godin’s post that I always use as a reference:

Gravity is a constraint. If you’re a designing an airplane, it would be a lot easier without gravity as a concern, but hey, it’s not going away.

A problem is solvable. A constraint must be lived with.

The art is in telling them apart.

Source: Problems and constraints

This post always reminds me of that old saying that tell us pick our battles carefully. Specially if the battle is a constraint.

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Management 3.0
Aug 28th, 2011 by Joca

I mentioned earlier that one of the sources I’ve been reading and enjoying is Jurgen Appelo’s posts about agile management. I’ve been reading his posts for a while, since the time he was the CTO of a dutch company. I really like the way he connects agile methodologies and complex adaptive systems theory.

I’ve mentioned his work in 4 posts:

Now he is 100% focused on his agile management coach career. He recently launched a book entitled “Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders“.

He also provides Agile Management courses.

Last week he was in São Paulo providing his management course at AdaptWorks and I had the opportunity to attend his course.

I’ll make a brief summary of the course below, as a way for me to review what we discussed during this two days. However, I strongly advise any leader, even from non software related areas or companies, to attend. Even though the ideas and insights Jurgen provides during the course are very good and he is an excellent presenter, you can read them in his blog and in his book. What is great in this course is the opportunity to practice and discuss the ideas and insights with Jurgen and the other attendees and the chance to exchange experiences.

Intro

After a quick introduction about the ideal size of a group and quick introductions of the attendees, Jurgen explained quickly about agile software development and then introduced Martie, the Management 3.0 representation with the 6 aspects of management that we should take care if we want to be good managers.

Martie

Martie

Then Jurgen explained briefly about the theory of complex systems and the types of fallacies we may fall into if we don’t use complex systems thinking when managing teams.

The seven fallacies

The seven fallacies

To end the introductory section, we did a group exercise where we analyzed some situations to identify what was the fallacy in play.

Energize people

When discussing about people, Jurgen talked about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and presented us with the 10 intrinsic desires:

  • Acceptance The need for approval
  • Curiosity The need to think
  • Power The need for influence of will
  • Honor Being loyal to a group
  • Social Contact / Relatedness The need for friends
  • Idealism / Purpose The need for purpose
  • StatusThe need for social standing
  • Independence / Autonomy Being an individual
  • Order Or stable environments
  • Competence / Mastery The need to feel capable

Intrinsic desires

Intrinsic desires

Exercise time: we analyzed individually how we are in our current jobs in terms of each of these 10 intrinsic desires.

Then Jurgen presented some tools to helps us know what is important for the people in our team:

B = f (P, E)

B = f (P, E)

Group exercise: we had to use the practices below to get to know 10 important facts about Ellen, a member of a fictional team managed by us.

Empower teams

Here Jurgen presented the 7 delegation levels I already mentioned in a previous post.

Delegation levels

Delegation levels

Group exercise: delegation poker where we were presented with different situations where we needed to figure out the appropriate delegation level.

Align constraints

A leader must:

  • define the constraints (playing field, players), but let the system create its own rules.
  • protect people against bad team formation
  • protect good teams against non-team players
  • protect shared resources (energy, budget, environment, office space, food, sysadmins)

The 4 I’s to cope with the Tragedy of the Commons:

  • Institutions: create trust to accept common rules
  • Information: increase understanding of situation
  • Identity: increase social belonging across teams
  • Incentives: address behaviors with small rewards

3 kinds of purpose (or goal) for a team:

  • Intrinsic purpose: an easily spottable trend in a team, e.g., produce software.
  • Extrinsic purpose: assigned by caretaker, e.g., make money.
  • Emergent purpose: chosen by the team, e.g., be a winning team.

Qualities of a good goal

Qualities of a good goal

Exercise time: we had to define a purpose for the course.

Develop competence

First Jurgen described how we can improve.

Competency development

Competency development

Then he described how we can measure our improvement.

KPI matrix

KPI matrix

Exercise time: we had to define KPIs according to the matrix above to our organization.

Grow structure

We can have two types of team organization, functional or cross-functional, it depends on how often team members need to communicate. Product managers, user experience designers and software developers need to communicate all the time about the project or product they are working on, so they need to sit together in a cross functional team. HR people on the other hand need to talk constantly to other HR people so they need to sit in a functional HR team.

Jurgen also advised we should hire generalizing specialists, promote informal leadership and widen job titles.

Exercise time: Meddlers.

Meddlers

Meddlers

Improve everything

How can I…

  • Make the rest of the organization more Agile?
  • Motivate my employees to develop themselves?
  • Convince customers they should accept Scrum?
  • Etc…

In order to change things we need to consider:

The system

  • Plan: What Is Your Goal?
  • Plan: Where Is It Going Well?
  • Do: What Are the Crucial Steps?
  • Do: When and Where Do You Start?
  • Check: How Do You Measure Results?
  • Check: How Do You Get Feedback?
  • Act: How Do You Accellerate Results?

The individuals

  • Awareness: How Will You Communicate?
  • Awareness: How Will You Set an Example?
  • Desire: How Do You Make It Urgent?
  • Desire: How Do You Make It Desirable?
  • Knowledge: What Will You Tell Them?
  • Knowledge: Who Will Be Teaching?
  • Ability: What Makes It Easy?
  • Ability: How Can They Practice?
  • Reinforcement: What Are the Short-Term Wins?
  • Reinforcement: What Makes It Sustainable?

The interactions

  • Initiators: Are You Committed?
  • Initiators: Who Is Assisting You?
  • Innovators: Who Will Be the Innovators?
  • Early Adopters: Who Are the Early Adopters?
  • Early Adopters: How Will the Leaders Help?
  • Early Majority: How Do You Reach the Early Majority?
  • Early Majority: How Will You Cross the Chasm?
  • Late Majority: How Will You Deal with Skeptics?
  • Laggards: How Do You Prevent a Relapse?
  • Laggards: How Do You Deal with Resistance?

The environment

  • Information: How Do You Make Things Visible?
  • Information: How Do You Ease Communication?
  • Identity: What Is the Group Identity?
  • Identity: How Can You Apply Peer Pressure?
  • Incentives: Can You Incentivize Good Behavior?
  • Infrastructure: Which Barriers Will You Remove?
  • Infrastructure: Which Guides Will You Place?
  • Institutions: Who Can Make the Rules?

Culture changes only after you have successfully altered people’s actions, after the new behavior produces some group benefit for a period of time.

John P. Kotter, Leading Change

Exercise time: each member of the group tell one story with she needs ideas on how to change, then the group select from the list above and discuss.

Conclusion

This is just a brief summary of the 2-day course, as a way for me to review what we discussed during. However, I strongly advise any leader, even from non software related areas or companies, to attend. Even though the ideas and insights Jurgen provides during the course are very good and he is an excellent presenter, you can read them in his blog and in his book. What is great in this course is the opportunity to practice and discuss the ideas and insights with Jurgen and the other attendees and the chance to exchange experiences.

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