Top 10 Action Items from the Lean Startup Conference

original_1335134189-1This week I attended the Lean Startup conference in San Francisco. There were 1500 attendees, all with a passion to find more efficient and effective methods for creating and launching their product/service/program/campaign/process/etc. While the Lean Startup movement evolved out of the technology sector founded by Eric Ries (theleanstartup.com), many other sectors are now embracing this strategy to improve virtually everything they do. Companies like GE, Goodyear, Toyota, Siemens, to name a few were at the conference. There were also a number of nonprofit organizations in attendance who are embracing this strategy through a group called Lean Impact (www.leanimpact.org). They have created a new framework that meets the unique challenges of social good organizations: nonprofits and social enterprises. I encourage you to check them out.

I left the conference with a long list of action items that I feel have an immediate impact on our business. Below are what I feel are the top 10:

1. Go out and meet with 10 customers

As Steve Blank said, "go out and stare them in the eyeballs". I need to hear for myself how customers feel about our products. I also want to hear what other challenges/issues/problems they are facing today.

2. For every project we are working on, ask "Why are we doing it?"

We currently have 44 active projects. They are a mix of product dev. work and customer projects. We need to ensure each of these projects are aligned with our vision.

3. Ensure we have a working theory or hypothesis for every project we are working on

How will we test it?

4. Becoming a testing organization

Should we rename the office to "The Lab"?

5. Ensure we are aligned as a team

When we are all busy wearing too many hats, it's easy to lose focus and forget what our common goal is. We need to establish the communication channels that ensure we are always aligned and supporting each other.

6. Accountability>Process>Culture>People

It starts with being accountable. We need to establish the appropriate goals and measurement system, and then decide how we will hold each of us accountable for their achievement.

Do we have the appropriate processes in place today and are they being followed. How do we know they are effective/efficient?

What culture do we want to create?

What are the common traits of the people we want to attract?

7. Can we move to a continuous improvement strategy?

Currently, we do 2-3 releases a year. Given our product is built on the Salesforce.com platform, at what frequency can we push out improvements?

Will customers be able to digest and manage more frequent releases?

What is the impact on our training, support and content team?

8. Do we have the product/market fit and have we nailed our pricing strategy?

How can we know for sure? How can we validate it?

9. Can tools like LeanKit help us?

We have tried many project management tools and even built our own in Salesforce.com. We are still in search of the right tool.

They offer a 30-day trial, so it is worth checking out.

10. Can we utilize testing tools like UserTesting.com?

We currently test everything in our own sandbox environment.

How can we cost-effectively reach more customers for testing/validation purposes?

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