Approach and Guiding Principles

 
Startup success can be engineered by following the process, which means it can be learned, which means it can be taught.
— Eric Ries
 

Entrepreneurship is exploding around the globe. The phenomenon startup has been established as change and innovation enabler - not only in Silicon Valley, the dominating hub, but also in many other upcoming and maturing startup ecosystems around the world. In today's shift from service to idea economy, startups are undeniable huge in economic impact. High-tech startups are a key driver of job creation throughout the United States (Kauffmann Study, 2010). This trend will also happen in all economies globally. Be prepared. Startups are Schumpeter's creative destructors of the 21th century.

Mindset - the single most influencing factor. We must share best practices and role models.  

Community - Let's not reinvent the wheel. Ideation and Innovation follow proven tracks. Serial entrepreneurs and advisors are important, too.

Experimentation - 9 out of 10 startups fail. Trial & error is required. Planning is important, but plan following is wrong.

Learning - Innovation is all about learning - about markets, and customers. Identify the riskiest parts of your plan, and systematically test.


Lean Startup

The fundamental activity of a startup is to turn ideas into products, measure how customers respond, and then learn whether to pivot or persevere. All successful startup processes should be geared to accelerate that feedback loop.

The principles behind the lean startup movement are making a profound impact on corporate innovation. The days of power points decks, business plans, and 3 year roadmaps has given way to starting small, running quick experiments and evidence-based innovation. The results are clear, lean startup is game changing.

Eliminate uncertainty - Using the Lean Startup approach, companies can create order not chaos by providing tools to test a vision continuously. Lean isn't simply about spending less money. Lean isn't just about failing fast, failing cheap. It is about putting a process, a methodology around the development of a product.

Entrepreneurship is Management - A startup is an institution, not just a product, requiring a new kind of management specifically geared to its context.

Innovation Accounting - To improve entrepreneurial outcomes, we need to hold entrepreneurs accountable.

The Lean Startup principles have been applied to specific competencies within typical startups and larger organizations: Lean UX | Lean Analytics | Lean Marketing | Lean Sales.


Customer Development

Our approach is practical, hands-on, and informed by our experience on the front lines of startups, accelerators and research. We focus on the critical few principles that deliver results in the real world, combining lean startup, design thinking and user experience. These principles are applied in a manner which guarantees real learning impact – by doing.

Proven & influential. Steve Blank among others lead the change.

Ask. Define. Test. - Lean Startup principles advocate building over asking. However, it's wasteful to build before asking potential product's advocates about their needs. 

Get out of the Building - You need to constantly leave your comfort zone and unlearn. Don't be guided by your Ego and own dreams.

No alternative - Asking a lot of questions like a kid (WHY?) is very first step in getting into your customer's shoes.

Understand - Identify biggest risks of your business model, choose a vertical and research your customers.

Systematic approach - By following three steps, you reduce learning loop time: interview for (1) problems, (2) solutions, (3) MVP. 


Business Modeling

Alexander Osterwalder introduced his business model canvas as an communication tool. 9 building blocks have successfully changed how we quickly iterate, test and drive business decisions. Let's build Business Models that work, and Value Propositions that sell.

"Easily illustrate how it makes financial sense."

"Show all project members the big picture, their important roles in it & the interdependencies."

"Translate business plans into business processes."

"Use post-its. Lots of them."

"REALITY CHECK."


Design Thinking

Design Thinking is an Innovation method. People's needs are at its heart. Key is combining empathy for the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and rationality in analyzing and fitting various solutions to the problem context. 

Done in multidisciplinary teams in flexible space, Design Thinking follows a process (non-linear, repeatable, and simultaneous steps) for problem-solving:

(1) Understand - Problem, audience, situation, issue.

(2) Observe - Qualitative research methods help to reveal first insights. 

(3) Define - issue at hand through personas, mindmaps, or customer journeys etc.

(4) Ideate - Guiding questions for brainstorming and ideation. Deciding for an idea.

(5) Prototype - Various forms to bring the idea into first shapes and reality.

(6) Test - User gives qualitative feedback about pros and cons.


Design Sprints

I am working with AJ&Smart — a design studio based in Berlin that offers something very different when it comes to training. They teach methods you can actually use in real life to improve the way your team and company works.

It’s because they're not a training company – they build award-winning products, better and faster than everybody else, so they can teach what works.

Please send me an email if you are interested.