• Wednesday, October 11, 2017

    We’re Programming Around Your Needs: Highlights of Lean Startup Week 2017

    Guest post by Jennifer Maerz, Program Chair of Lean Startup Co.

    For eight years, our flagship conference has focused on sharing stories and lessons of putting Lean Startup’s entrepreneurial methodology into practice. We’ve hosted talks, workshops, and interactive sessions on the challenges and successes of modern management techniques from a wide variety of business leaders around the world. Lean Startup Week (Oct. 30 - Nov. 5 in San Francisco) allows you to experience seven days of interactive innovation training from our experts and true Lean Startup practitioners—in a city that’s known for being the hotbed of high-growth startups and iconic tech companies (not to mention a great place to eat, drink, sightsee, and shop while you’re talking shop).

    This year, we’re really honing in on the feedback from our past conferences, as well as our smaller, more focused conferences in New York and London this year. What we heard was that you want more opportunities to have your specific challenges answered—so to that end, we’ve added new sessions where you can ask our experts your questions directly, including Roundtable Discussions and Live Office Hours with Eric for all attendees, along with our regularly popular sessions such as Speed Mentoring, Networking Dinners, and our Women’s Breakfast. We’re also working very closely with all of our speakers to ensure that the expert knowledge they impart is not only in line with Eric’s new book, The Startup Way, but focuses on actionable takeaways.

    We want you to leave Lean Startup Week feeling like you understand your next steps when you’re back at your office trying to put all the pieces together. Because while it’s great to feel inspired after a conference, we can have a bigger impact when we leave you feeling empowered to make entrepreneurship a core function of your organization. And that kind of empowerment only comes when you have 90+ speakers and mentors offering you practical, actionable knowledge, learned from their time in the trenches.


    Here are some of the specific things we want to help you tackle:
    • Connecting with like-minded entrepreneurs and experts who share your challenges and concerns
    • Turning an old school-minded organization on to modern entrepreneurial management techniques
    • Starting and scaling an innovation practice in your organization
    • Connecting Lean methodology to hiring, team-creation, organizing boards, leading engineering teams, and more
    • Ensuring your organization remains committed to innovation practices as you grow

    We’ll help you with these solutions by approaching them from a variety of formats:

    Highlights include:
    • A rare workshop with Eric Ries (co-led by Lean Startup Labs senior faculty member Marilyn Gorman) on enterprise transformation using the Lean Startup way on Oct. 31 (limited to the first 200 Gold Passholders.) Side Note: Eric and Marilyn will be doing a webcast as a preview to their workshop on Oct 11. Sign up for free here.
    • Justin Rosenstein, co-founder of Asana, presents a new approach to thinking about your startup's culture from the ground up, mapping the idea of intentional culture design to the familiar tenets of product research, design, and management
    • Tim O’Reilly, founder & CEO of O’Reilly Media, discusses how to avoid getting sucked into the vortex of me-too thinking by ensuring all the parts of your business work together, a theme from his new book, WTF? What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us
    • Anil Dash, CEO of Fog Creek Software, on mindfully building modern companies in a more humane and ethical way
    • Chip Heath, best-selling author & Stanford Graduate School of Business professor, on The Power of Moments in creating organizational change
    • Zach Nies, VP of Education at Techstars & Marcus Gosling, VP of Product at Long-Term Stock Exchange, co-host Startup Office Hours, an interactive Q&A where  you can ask the experts your questions on sustainably implementing Lean Startup and other like-minded methodologies into your growing business
    • Vanessa Colella, Head Of Citi Ventures & Chief Innovation Officer, Citi, on how Citibank uses growth boards to provide seed funding to internal startups
    • Alex Osterwalder, co-founder of Strategyzer, on protecting your organization from disruption
    • Eric Ries & GE FastWorks Co-Founders Viv Goldstein & Janice Semper on GE’s Startup Way strategy
    • Bionic CEO David Kidder and Procter & Gamble CTO Kathy Fish on P&G’s innovation pathway
    • Making diversity & inclusion an actionable, trackable metric at your company with industry thought leaders, including eBay’s Helen Kim, CodePath’s Michael Ellison, Pivotal’s Michele Perras, and Intuit’s Cassie Divine
    • Innovation, Impact & Design Thinking for social good with IDEO.org


    Sounds great! So how to attend?

    If you haven’t been to one of our Lean Startup Conferences, this is the year you won’t want to miss. So get ready to take selfies with the Bay Bridge, snag a burrito in the Mission district, and step foot into some of the hottest tech companies up and down Market St. We have passes for all budgets:

    Gold Pass - For those who are serious about diving deep into the Lean Startup methodology and getting hands-on experience, join us for the full seven days of innovation training at Lean Startup Week (Oct. 30 - Nov. 5). This is perfect for teams looking for their best off-site yet! Register here.

    Silver Pass - For those who are tight on time but want to get highlights of what we offer, get access to the two-day main conference on Nov. 2 & 3 and a seat at our Ignite Opening Night on Nov. 1.

    Bootstrapper Pass - Offers the same benefits as the Silver Pass, but brings the cost of the conference down to $350 for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend (think: fledgling solopreneurs, employees at very young startups, and small non-profits). Apply for a Bootstrapper Pass here.

    Livestream - Because we’re all about community building, we invite you to host or join one of our free livestream meetups. Get details here. You get all the mainstage talks and the most popular breakouts, along with access to live Q&A and moderated chat.

    Volunteer - If you’re a student, you can apply to volunteer here. Pitch in for a shift, and we’ll give you a Silver Pass.

    We hope you’ll join us in San Francisco at the end of this month!

    Monday, October 2, 2017

    Two Weeks until "The Startup Way"

    “Mission critical reading.”
        -- Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and co-author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers The Alliance and The Startup of You 

    In just a few weeks, my new book, The Startup Way, will be available in print, digital, and audio formats.

    One of the most gratifying parts of writing a book is heading off on tour with it and finding out how it’s engaging actual readers. Some of the most inspiring conversations I’ve had about my work have happened at book events, and I’m looking forward to more of them. I can't wait to get out on the road with The Startup Way and talk to you about the methods and principles of modern management.

    Here’s the current list of my planned stops. If your city is on the list, come by and say hello! More information and tickets available at the links below:

    10/16 | Philadelphia, PA | 6:45pm | Prince Theater
         In conversation with Adam Grant, author of Give and Take, Originals, and Option B
    10/17 | New York, NY | 12:00pm | Grand Central Tech
    10/18 | New York, NY | 7:00pm | The Strand
         In conversation with Beth Comstock, Vice Chair of GE
    10/19 | Cambridge, MA | 7:00pm | First Parish Church
         In conversation with Tom Eisenmann, Harvard Business School professor
    10/24 | Los Angeles, CA | 8:00pm | Ann and Jerry Moss Theater
    10/25 | Los Angeles, CA | 7:45am | Cross Campus Downtown LA
    10/25 | San Francisco, CA | 6:30pm | Commonwealth Club of San Francisco
         In conversation with Todd Park, former US CTO

    Meanwhile, I’m offering early access to a special 5-part video series on The Startup Way for those of you who pre-order. Enter your order confirmation information at bit.ly/thestartupway to see the videos. I had a great time exploring another medium for sharing my ideas and hope you find the series beneficial in advance of the release of the book. I can’t wait to hear what you think. Join me on Twitter using #StartupWay to share your reactions.

    “If The Startup Way can transform the federal governmentand it hasit can transform your company. For everyone who's thought 'there has to be a better way,' here's your proof and a playbook to make it happen.” 
        -- Jennifer Pahlka, Founder and Executive Director, Code for America 

    Finally, the 2017 Lean Startup Week is themed around The Startup Way. October 30 through November 5, we're gathering thousands of thought leaders in downtown San Francisco for a week of keynote talks, interactive workshops, speed mentoring, roundtable discussions, industry dinners, innovation bootcamps, and startup tours. You'll take in the book's concepts and learn from technology thought leaders like Tim O'Reilly and Anil Dash, seasoned enterprise leaders including Viv Goldstein and Janice Semper of GE, founders of high-growth startups like Justin Rosenstein of Asana, government innovators from the NSA and 18F, and non-profit practitioners deep in the trenches. Plus, every attendee will receive a copy of the book. I hope you'll join me there.

    Thursday, September 28, 2017

    7 Tips for Building Your Lean Team

    Guest Post by Misti Yang, Writer for Lean Startup Co.

    “Think big. Start small. Scale fast.” This is the mantra of Lean teams described by Eric Ries in his upcoming book, The Startup Way. Whether you’re struggling in an actual startup or trying to build an internal one at an established organization, a Lean team approach can maximize efficiency and results in uncertain times. But assembling a group that can execute on this vision comes with the routine challenges of team-building as well as questions unique to the methodology. Drawing on the advice of experts and recent research, here are seven insights on how to best build a Lean team.

    Start small.
    Eric often refers to Amazon’s “two-pizza team,” which means starting small when it comes to new innovation groups, aiming for a number that you could easily feed with just two pizzas. A tighter team provides several advantages. First, small groups typically bond faster, leading to better communication within the team. Second, with fewer decision-makers, experiments can happen faster. There is also greater accountability because it’s easy to know who’s doing what.

    Make your team cross-functional.
    Just because the team size is diminutive doesn’t mean its skillset should be. A hallmark of Lean teams is cross-functionality. Members should bring a diversity of skills and/or represent different departments within the company. In enterprise organizations, teams are often comprised of employees from the same department, and once their work is “completed,” the results are passed along to another department. This siloed approach is inefficient, and the lack of varied perspectives often results in subpar solutions.

    To build a cross-functional team, Eric suggests starting by asking what departments are needed to make meaningful progress that won’t get roadblocked along the way. In The Startup Way, Eric provides the example of an industrial project that might require a product designer, someone with manufacturing expertise, and a salesperson who understands customers’ wants and needs. An IT project, on the other hand, might include an engineer, a designer, and a marketer. As Eric says in the book, “There are endless permutations, depending on what needs to get done.”

    Every team leader should also know whether you’re planning to do something that could require approval from legal. If so, be sure to include a representative from that department to prevent delays. Another tip from Eric: If you lack the budget or influence to get someone from a necessary department assigned to your team, ask for volunteers.

    Don’t over-rely on your natural team players.
    Relying on the same employees to contribute to teams can create collaboration overload, which in turn negatively impacts work satisfaction and productivity. A study published in Harvard Business Review found that typically 3 to 5 percent of employees contribute 20 to 35 percent of effective collaborations, but “those seen as the best sources of information and in highest demand as collaborators in their companies—have the lowest engagement and career satisfaction scores.” According to the researchers, simple solutions for avoiding collaboration overload is to cancel unnecessary meetings and to let individuals who are most often tapped for teams know it’s okay to say no and to suggest another capable person to take their place.

    Train people to be team smart.
    To ensure that every employee can excel in workgroups, invest in team training. “[Companies] focus a lot on professional development at the individual level. They have robust programs for people, but they won't necessarily be focused on teams,” says Janet Brunckhorst, principal product manager at Carbon Five. Employees and managers are rarely educated in how to be an effective contributor or how to make a better team. In short, many companies are team dumb, which is a problem because there’s evidence supporting the idea that a team’s collective intelligence is independent of the intelligence of its individual members.

    Even if a company has the smartest employees, its teams can fail. In research published in the journal Science in 2010, psychologists from Carnegie Mellon, M.I.T. and Union College found that what they label the “c factor” (another term for collective intelligence) is correlated with “the average social sensitivity of group members, the equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking, and the proportion of females in the group.” The same research suggested that a team that failed at one thing was likely to fail at every task it attempted. A simple way to increase your team’s c factor is to bring in someone versed in guiding groups through the best practices of teamwork and Lean methodologies, whether that’s an internal leader or an external coach.    

    Create a pro-risk environment.  
    Finding innovative solutions and creating breakthrough products requires bold ideas and often big missteps, so individuals on Lean teams must learn to welcome risk and failure. Creating this mindset can be challenging in a traditional failure-is-not-an-option environment, and the dynamics of a team can exacerbate the desire to play it safe. (Nobody wants to look foolish in front of their colleagues.) However, with some psychological insights and pragmatic tools, teams can be coached to feel good about taking risks and failing.  

    “There are lots of things that carry through all teams. Mostly, that we are all human, and the psychological and behavioral patterns are the same,” says Carbon Five’s Janet Brunckhorst. While it may seem obvious, the insight is often overlooked. Companies often focus on expertise or personalities when selecting team members, but research suggests that any group of people can succeed if the right atmosphere is created.  

    Google’s Aristotle Project, an effort launched by the company in 2012 that surveyed 180 of their teams to better understand what made them work, found that the key to a highly-functioning team was psychological safety. In a 2016 New York Times article discussing the Aristotle Project, Abeer Dubey, a manager in Google’s People Analytics division, said, “The ‘who’ part of the equation didn’t seem to matter.’’ In other words, it wasn’t about the balance of skills or diversity of personalities. Instead, high performing teams shared two characteristics: 1. Members contributed to conversations equally, and 2. They were adept at interpreting how others were feeling based on nonverbal cues and addressing those feelings. Creating this type of environment does not come with a one-size-fits-all approach, but Google found that simply sharing the research findings inspired teams to work differently.   

    People also need to know that their decisions will not result in the loss of millions of dollars or litigation. This is an idea that Courtney Hemphill, partner at Carbon Five, calls reversible risk. It means that teams understand what can be undone. “Teams need to have a reverse button,” she says. “Productive teams are able to say, ‘Well, that didn’t work. Let’s fix it, learn from it, and not do it again.’ But then continue to make decisions and move quickly.” If a team can define its reversible risks, people are less likely to get bogged down in a blame game.  

    Understanding what your team needs means understanding their assumptions.
    Everyone comes to a team with certain assumptions about how work gets done, how to communicate, and a million other things. To function as a cohesive unit, people need to understand what assumptions they are working with. “In a team, there may be someone interrupting and talking all the time, and your assumption might be that they’re a jerk,” says Christina Wodtke, principal of her firm, Wodtke Consulting, and professor at California College of the Arts and Stanford Continuing Education. “Everybody is walking around with an idea of how you are supposed to behave in business, and it is not the same idea, believe you me.”  

    For this reason Christina recommends that every team create a charter of norms: “Norms are just, ‘How do we agree we are going to work together? What are we going to do when we disagree? Are we going to make proposals? Are we going to just fight it out? How do we make a decision?’” To help develop a team charter, she suggests starting with the eight scales outlined in Erin Meyer’s book The Culture Map. The scales address expectations surrounding communicating, evaluating, persuading, leading, deciding, trusting, disagreeing, and scheduling.
    Measure to learn and improve your team.
    Whether you’re starting a new team or trying to improve an existing team, “you can’t really take your first step without looking at the team and measuring,” Janet says. This could mean tabulating assumptions, as with The Culture Map scales, or assessing the current sentiment—in other words, how do people feel about the team spirit. “It could be something as simple as every time you have a team meeting, doing a team temperature gage—a one-to-five scale or thumbs up/thumbs down,” Janet says. From there, the important thing is acting on that information. For example, understanding why a team may be feeling closer to a one, and then working to remedy the problem. Fundamentally, it is applying the Lean Startup methodology of build-measure-learn to your team dynamics.

    Although teams vary across companies, an effective Lean team should start small and be cross-functional. Creating clear ground rules, working to ensure everyone contributes, and checking in regularly to assess how individuals are feeling helps create a productive working environment, and from there, you can continually fine-tune based on feedback. Accept that you will have to iterate your team because effective teams are committed to continuous improvement. “It means never accepting your team as done,” says Christina.

    To learn more about building Lean teams, join us at Lean Startup Week October 30th - November 5th in San Francisco. Christina Wodtke, Courtney Hemphill, and Janet Brunckhorst will be leading breakout sessions on crafting effective teams.

    This post was originally published on Lean Startup Co.'s blog.

    Wednesday, August 30, 2017

    Using The Startup Way to Turn Big Orgs into Lean Startups

    Written by Misti Yang, Contributor for Lean Startup Co.

    In the opening paragraphs of Eric Ries’s upcoming book The Startup Way, Eric sets the scene: He arrived at GE in the summer of 2012 amidst a multi-hundred-million-dollar, five-year plan to develop a new diesel and natural gas engine. He knew next to nothing about the engine but a good bit about entrepreneurial management, and GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt and Vice Chair Beth Comstock thought the insights he’d developed in The Lean Startup could ensure that the plan would succeed.

    And the plan did succeed. GE released the test engine, known as Series X, sooner than originally anticipated and immediately received an order for five engines.

    It was the start of a partnership that lasted several years and transformed GE’s business practices while also inspiring the company’s FastWorks program. It demonstrated to Eric that Lean Startup methodologies could help organizations of all sizes, and it inspired GE to train every CEO and top manager in what Eric now calls the Startup Way, which he explains in the book “combines the rigor of general management with the highly iterative nature of startups” and incorporates several Lean Startup processes.

    The Startup Way includes several learnings from Eric’s work with GE (among other enterprise and high-growth organizations) and Marilyn Gorman was part of the original team at GE that worked with him to build training for senior leaders. Today, she is senior faculty at Lean Startup Co. and travels the world providing businesses with innovation tools and training. As a special treat for our community, Marilyn and Eric will be co-facilitating a limited-capacity workshop focused on The Startup Way during Lean Startup Week (Oct. 30 - Nov. 5) this fall.  

    As a teaser for that workshop, below are a few lessons Marilyn has learned about teaching an established corporation to practice the Startup Way, along with additional insights from the book.

    You need a leader.
    The subtitle of The Startup Way is: How Modern Companies Use Entrepreneurial Management to Transform Culture and Drive Long-Term Growth. Understanding fundamental distinctions between “modern companies” and “old-fashioned companies” is an important first step in refashioning management in a large enterprise. One of the many distinctions Eric points out is that an old-fashioned company “is composed of managers and their subordinates.” But a modern company “is composed of leaders and the entrepreneurs they empower.”

    Marilyn knows this truth firsthand. “A lot of people are saying, ‘We’re trying to drive a change to a more entrepreneurial mindset from the bottom up,’ and while it is important to start with small teams, you do need leader support. It is critical,” she says.

    Without a commitment to a new approach from higher-ups, teams tasked to work with Lean Startup methodologies are more likely to be blocked by existing procedures and expectations. For example, being told, “There is no budget,” shuts down a project pretty quickly. As Eric recounts in The Startup Way, when working with GE, he asked teams to be honest about what they really needed, and “many of them simply needed senior leadership’s assurance that if they worked in this new way they wouldn’t be eaten alive by middle managers.”

    Be ready to change more than your scorecards.
    “I had companies call me when I was at GE and say, ‘Tell me about how you changed your performance management approach,’” Marilyn says, “and I couldn’t do it without talking about the Lean Startup mindset of building, measuring and learning. People would sometimes reply, ‘We just want to change how we score people at the end of the year,’ but there is no shortcut for implementing a Lean Startup approach.”

    Marilyn recalls that as GE started to implement Lean Startup practices, management began to recognize that there were systems and processes that stood in the way of being successful. “Corporations have lots of policies in place to reduce risk and to put out as perfect a product as possible, but Lean Startup is all about taking risk and putting test products in front of customers,” she explains. “The natural evolution was realizing that we needed to change other things inside of the company.”

    GE’s realization reflects two of the five key principles of the Startup Way: continuous innovation and the missing function of entrepreneurship. Leaders often want one key innovation that will unlock unrealized potential, but companies should be focused on developing a method for finding breakthroughs as a sustainable part of their long-term pathway.

    However, without embracing entrepreneurship, long-term growth driven by new products is unlikely. In the book, Eric recommends starting by making entrepreneurship a core discipline, which means ensuring that someone is responsible for it on the org chart just as departments are responsible for marketing and finance.  

    Start with, “What can we do.”
    Of course, a fully functional Startup Way practice will take more than a box on an org chart. Ultimately, every department will be asked to work a little differently, and that requires some tough conversations across an organization. “Often the conversation will start with, ‘Here is what we can’t do,’ and in fact, the focus needs to be on what you can do,” Marilyn advises.

    In the book, Eric shares the story of a leader who realized that the legal department was preventing rapid innovation, and he wanted a solution. He facilitated a meeting with everyone in the legal department. The legal team actually lamented having to always tell people no, but felt constrained by rules and regulations. The solution: a one-page document that laid out a series of parameters within which teams would be pre-cleared to experiment with new ideas. By working with the legal team to brainstorm what could be done, the company was able to speed up product development.  

    When things get hard, eat chocolate.  
    “Making this kind of profound change to an organization’s structure is like founding the company all over again, whether it’s five or a hundred years old,” Eric reflects in The Startup Way. It is what he calls “the second founding,” and founding a company is not easy work.

    “It’s hard, and it’s going to take time. But, chocolate helps,” Marilyn jokes. Plus, it is worth the effort. “At GE, we started to work faster and simpler. We were learning more quickly about opportunities for success and what opportunities would fail, so we could stop wasting time on them. It definitely had a positive impact.”

    Join us at Lean Startup Week October 30th-November 5th, where Eric Ries and Marilyn Gorman will co-lead a 4-hour workshop focused on "The Startup Way". It will give participants an opportunity to consider some of the challenges of bringing Lean Startup practices into an enterprise and address what it takes to scale and deploy new approaches in their own companies. Participants will also receive a workbook featuring tools that they can use to implement the Startup Way. You can pre-order "The Startup Way" here.

    Friday, July 21, 2017

    Lean Startup Week Call for Proposals is Open Until July 31

    Guest post by Jennifer Maerz, Program Chair of Lean Startup Co. 

    Some exciting news about this year’s Lean Startup Week (Oct. 30-Nov. 5) for all you potential speakers out there: we’re shaking things up in 2017. The flagship conference is directly tied to Eric Ries’s upcoming book, The Startup Way, and we’re hosting the event at two locations in downtown San Francisco (The Warfield and The Village). We’re bringing to life new case studies, advanced strategies, and inspiring areas where Lean Startup is making an impact around the globe, with an emphasis on how to put the practice into place for the long haul at large organizations—from the tiny startup that ballooned to the government or corporate team that’s only known extra large operations. If you’ve ever considered applying to speak at our conferences, now’s the time to go for it. This year will be a biggie for the Lean Startup community.

    What We’re Looking For 

    This part hasn’t changed. We’re passionate about bringing in fresh stories about how Lean Startup methods are being practiced in startups and established companies, nonprofits and civic organizations, and other areas we’ve yet to explore from the stage.

    Our goal is to bring the most interesting, relevant, and impactful stories to the conference. We’re looking for practitioners who are doing the real work, particularly women and people of color, and specifically Lean Startup practitioners working at the intermediate and advanced levels. That’s where you come in—especially if you haven’t spoken at our conferences before. As a speaker, you’ll have the opportunity to share your advice, insight, failures, and successes in order to help and benefit from the Lean Startup community.

    What is Your Lean Startup Story? 

    If you have Lean Startup experience to share, we encourage you to propose a talk via our Call For Proposals form regardless of whether you have public speaking experience. Submit your idea as a short video, ideally under three minutes. iPhone videos are totally acceptable, just make sure the sound quality is high enough that we can hear you. Here’s an example of a speaker application that we loved.

    There are a limited number of spots available to speak. Below, you’ll find a few helpful tips on how to submit a proposal:

    • You don’t have to be a Lean Startup all-star to apply. You just need a good story, useful tips for intermediate/advanced practitioners, compelling advice, or practical applications to share. 
    • The core of your proposal should be simple. Focus on answering one of the questions posed in the Call For Proposals form (you’ll find them on page 2). 
    • Deliver the pitch in your application as though you’re speaking from a stage. Although there’s still time to practice, stage presence matters. 

    Would You Rather Attend? 

    Lean Startup Week is the best way to connect with 2000+ other experts in the Lean Startup community. You’ll receive practical ways to immediately implement the Lean Startup methodology into your daily business. We’ve got a package for every budget (and options to bring your entire team at an affordable rate). Join us.

    Tuesday, June 20, 2017

    The Evolution of THE STARTUP WAY Cover

    Guest post by Marcus Gosling, VP of Product, Long-Term Stock Exchange.

    I’m excited to reveal the final cover for Eric’s next book, THE STARTUP WAY, coming October 17. I’ve been working with Eric since the IMVU days and designed the cover for The Lean Startup… I was excited to help with the new cover and, after months of testing different iterations, we’ve decided on a design that checks all the boxes that Eric, the Crown Business publishing team at Penguin Random House, and I wanted to hit going into this process:

    • It’s eye catching, whether on a bookshelf or online storefront
    • It demonstrates a clear evolution from The Lean Startup
    • It captures the book’s message of entrepreneurial management
    • And, of course, it tests well with buyers

    The first drafts I showed to Eric and the team played with two graphics: an infinity symbol and a chevron. The infinity symbol represents the continuous innovation that’s possible within any organization, regardless of size. The chevron represented a clear path into the future through entrepreneurial management. While both are essential concepts to the book, the chevron was a clearer departure from The Lean Startup circle. We looked at a number of color treatments for both graphics and knew we wanted to test several options.

    We also looked at the cover options in a field among other business books. It was important to know that our jacket would stand out to readers looking for the next great business book.

    Once we decided to focus on the chevron shape, I started playing with the color scheme -- some variations on The Lean Startup scheme and some total departures. While anyone who caught a glimpse of the options had an opinion, I knew we wanted to test buyer decisions rather than simply survey friends and family.

    We ran ads targeted toward business readers on Facebook with the four different cover variations shown above. Clickthrough was strongest on the red cover with silver in second. We tested the actual purchase decision on our testing site, thestartupway.co. The blue covers led the way, followed by red, then silver a distant fourth.

    We realized we ran the Facebook ad with the cover on a dark backdrop while the testing site had a white background. Given most buyers are shopping online, we had to see how the covers would look in an online retailer’s storefront. As you can see on the CEOreads page above, the silver was quickly lost on the white background. I tweaked the color schemes to find a blue chevron we all liked and we moved forward with testing one red and one blue design.

    Down to these two color schemes, I extended the chevron to the edges of the page, adding to the boldness and drama of the design. With that change in place, Eric had a new test in mind, one we had run while designing The Lean Startup cover.

    Using a website called fivesecondtest.com, we showed participants one of the two bookshops above for five seconds. When the image disappeared, we asked which books they recalled seeing. 2/3 of all respondents named The Startup Way as one of the first three books they remembered, with participants shown the red cover slightly more apt to name the title.

    Anecdotally, but interestingly, a few participants mentioned the “red book” or the “orange business book” while there were no comparable mentions for the blue cover.

    We continued testing clickthrough on Facebook, where there wasn’t a discernible difference between the red and blue covers.


    At the same time, we tested purchase decisions on the book landing site, where the red cover held a slight edge over the blue. Given the buying preference for the red cover (and my and Eric’s personal inclination for it, assuming testing didn’t show it to be a terrible option), we decided to move forward with the red design.

    Once we were settled on color, I spent a Sunday afternoon, paintbrush in hand, modifying the brushstroke of the chevron.

    The outcome of the paint party was an evolution in chevron design, from smooth to more energetic. Eric liked the options with more streakiness to the chevron; we both felt the streakiness indicated a work in progress. The busier the streaks became, though, the more the title became lost in the design.

    While the silver title, much like the silver cover, would look great on a bookshelf we decided to see what it looked like in an online storefront vs. a white title. It was immediately evident that the white title popped off the page regardless of how streaky I made the chevron. While Eric and I continued to tweak, we stuck to a white title from then on.

    We played with chevron angle, thickness, size, streakiness, and splatter. The above shows how far we’ve come from the first draft. We tweaked accent colors, font style, font size, and font spacing. Three and a half months after our first conversation about chevrons and infinity symbols, we’re excited to reveal the final cover for THE STARTUP WAY:

    Thank you to the Crown Business team who managed the Facebook and five second testing, to anyone who preordered through the landing site (whether you knew you were part of the testing or not!), and of course to Eric for helping balance art and science in the design process. We can’t wait to hear what you think of the physical product when it hits shelves October 17!

    Monday, April 3, 2017

    Lean Startup Conference Comes to New York & London

    Guest post by Melissa Moore & Jennifer Maerz of Lean Startup Co. 

    Over the last eight years, we’ve learned that our Lean Startup community members are constantly searching for better ways to build and scale products. Whether you need advice on how to design a good experiment, how to get buy-in from your boss, or what key metrics to track to hold your team accountable, we’re here to help.

    We’ve got two learning opportunities for you this spring: 

    Join us at Lean Startup Conference New York (May 10-11) in Brooklyn for an intensive two days of specialized corporate innovator education and networking. You won’t just hear inspirational and motivational talks (though we’ll have plenty of that!). More importantly, you’ll get effective how-to’s on the next steps for applying Lean Startup within your organizations. Our workshops and keynotes cover:
    • Connecting Lean Startup strategy to execution to avoid siloed efforts that fail to shift the organizational culture, with Lean Startup Co. senior faculty member Jonathan Bertfield 
    • The importance of creating islands of freedom, with Lean Startup Co. senior faculty member Marilyn Gorman 
    • Planning, tracking, and running experiments & framing teams’ work around innovation, with Sense & Respond authors Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden 
    • Exploring the key components of and strategies behind robust customer discovery, with The Startup Owner’s Manual co-author Bob Dorf 
    • How Microsoft is making the change from traditional to Lean, with Cindy Alvarez 
    • Unlocking your company's innovation capital, with Launchpad Co-founder and Executive Chairman Jim Hornthal 
    • How Lean design systems allow teams to move fast and scale design, with GE Digital Design Director Ken Skistimas and Carbon Five’s Courtney Hemphill 
    • Lean concepts that helped the design transformation at Nordstrom, with Jyoti Shukla 
    Check out our initial New York program details here.

    If you live closer to Big Ben than the Big Apple, we’ve got something else in store for you... 

    We’re holding the Lean Startup Summit London (June 13 & 14) during London Tech Week to bring our innovation training across the Atlantic, featuring seasoned Lean experts from Silicon Valley and around Europe. This summit will focus on the practical ways UK organizations in areas like fintech, cleantech, Lean Impact, and Lean enterprise continuously adapt and innovate for the long term through techniques validated in environments of extreme uncertainty.

    Get the initial London program details here, including:
    • How to implement Lean Startup (a foundational workshop for newbies and a refresher for the pros), led by Lean Startup Co.’s Phil Dillard 
    • Practical tools to set up, run, and measure innovation experiments, with the founder of the Business Model Canvas, Alex Osterwalder 
    • Build a transformation roadmap for large organizations, with former Pearson SVP Sonja Kresojevic
    • Fireside chat on GE’s FastWorks journey—including how the company has developed, measured, and scaled the program to 250,000+ employees—with FastWorks Skills Director Sinéad Clarkin 
    • Fireside chat with Pernod Ricard’s Head of Employee Development on how the beverage company embarked on a 1,000-day, Lean Startup-driven business transformation journey called “Project Ingenuity” 
    • A practical guide to innovation accounting with The Corporate Startup co-author Tendayi Viki 

    As an attendee of either event, you’ll get an extra bonus: a virtual keynote by Eric Ries, along with a pre-publication copy of his latest book, The Startup Way, which focuses on the implementation of Lean Startup techniques inside large companies. Bring your burning questions for this interactive talk, and Eric will do his best to get them answered.

    The Startup Way won’t be available to the public until October, but as an attendee, you’ll receive a special early conference edition of the uncorrected paperback proof, being printed especially for you this summer. Attendees will also receive the hardcover book in the fall.

    We’ll have even more to announce in the next few weeks leading up to the event. We hope you’ll join us in New York and/or London to get the latest skills sets and techniques necessary for building a modern company.
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