Lean Startup and why some call it Innovation Accounting - the workshop

We often discuss the benefits of Innovation Accounting which is also known as Leant Startup with our clients. We experimented with different forms of learning - from plain old talking about the subjects and sketching the principles to presentations, we always had the feeling that there had to be a better way. Especially since the great ideas we help develop by facilitating idea development workshops will become even more valuable if you apply these hard to explain principles on top. Sven clustering ideas produced in a workshop

The slides Sven prepared seemed to be interesting judging by the numbers on slideshare. But still the reactions when we gave that talk did not totally satisfy us. When Sven and Katrin of CoCreact sketched a workshop on the subject at Play for Agile 2013 we immediately knew that was the missing link between our experience and delivering it to our clients.

Workshop participants working on their idea iteratively

This new workshop we’re talking about simulates several iterations, so the agile and lean product development mindset is not only a subject that’s discussed, but an actual hands on experience that’s undergone by the participants. Ideas are developed, presented to potential customers and reworked several times. How we achieve this? Strict time-boxing of the iterations in a sand-box created by our experience in iterative product/campaign/idea design.

Groups interchange their new ideas switching vendor and client roles

The pictures originate from something we do before including a workshop in our portfolio: a final prototype workshop. We believe in iterative idea development so much that we apply it to the workshop on the topic too. It was quite a success although we made it hard for the participants by selecting them from very different expertise: advertising, strategic consulting and even human resources. We always advocate diverse teams, but to see how the groups that in some cases came from completely different working domains performed surprised even us.

Diverse people - diverse footwear

We were making a lot of things happen since the last blog post which is almost a year old. This workshop is one of our personal highlights since it manages to deliver the benefits of Lean Product Developement. We’re just preparing the next lean product development workshop for a client which Sven guided in developing ideas before. Now we’ll let them rinse and repeat the accelerated feedback loop technique described above. It’s a great way to see why we also call it Innovation Accounting: you have a timebox/budget, you deliver a lean increment to the customer once you run out of time/budget, you ship. Then you weave in the insights of your customer’s feedback into the next iteration. Accountants love this for the reduced risk, and we love the term Innovation Accounting since it underlines that Lean Startup is also a more than interesting process for mature companies.

The Yun Way

originally published on the official arduino blog

This summer I had a speaker engagement at the Codemotion conference in Berlin which I really enjoyed for many reasons. For starters Jule & me participated in an inspiring wearable computing workshop where we met Zoe Romano for the first time. The next day I talked about a possible and easy way how to build the internet of things.

Presenting thoughts on & actions how to build the IOT.

After the talk it seemed to appear like a a good idea to Zoe that I should get a sneak peek at some new Arduino hardware. There weren’t any more details since it was still secret back then. Of course it didn’t took me much time for consideration since I really love Arduino for making our hardware prototyping so much easier. I happily agreed on checking out this new mysterious device.

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Makers Go Pro

If you met Jule & me lately and talked about the #internetofthings chances are high you will have heard the term “Makers Go Pro”. Here is one example for a pro version of a tinker-idea: a real life facebook likes counter.

Real life facebook by the numbers. Source: smiirl.com

So what are the differences between pro and tinker projects? In my opinion one aspect is about the quality of the hardware in terms of tech and in most cases more striking - design.

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Lean Hardware

If you ask me what lean hardware development is and you have a background in software or the startup economy the explenation is short: lean startup applied to physical product development. The more interesting conversation starts if you do not have a software background. Developing software products the weapon of choice to minimize risk & waste and at the same time maximize chances of success & return of invest these days is lean entrepreneurship: agile software development tightly glued to lean startup product development.

So what does this mean for the development process of physical goods? Can it be applied to my average internet of things project too? You might have guessed - the answer is: yes! I’ll elaborate it using as little buzzwords as possible so you can concentrate on the advantages of the concept of lean hardware itself.

The mood lamp.

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How To: build the Internet Of Things

The first serious Internet of Things project I worked on was the digital foosball table I prototyped for Sinner Schrader’s Radical Innovation Lab. An interesting detail that you might not have guessed: I only built the software. A slim little Ruby API & attached to a realtime web app and to the Arduino hardware. The hardware was built by one of my all time favorite colleagues Thomas Jacob. I admired the hardware skills he had and didn’t dare to dream of developing something similar on my own. I was only a software guy, right?

  • First working prototype in action, check wired for details.

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Lean Lego and Hacked Tables

We are in the middle of an energetic scene: groups of two are presenting each other prototyped solutions for problems you can have when planning a vacation. Concentrated listening, questions and answers. Feedback loop in full effect. But how could it come to this?

sketching the prototype

  • The power of the back of the napkin (Photo by @cuxdu)

Like many good stories it all begins with a cliché

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Agile vs. Lean

One of the first things I tell potential clients that hire me for an agile transformation is that part of my goals is to make myself superfluous. Although more or less common sense for people with an agile background this provokes more often than never puzzled faces. “Isn’t he supposed to lead the product development process by managing the product team with agile methodologies?”

  • Transforming intangible perceptions into actionable items

In fact I’m supposed to enable the product development team to start managing itself in an agile manner. Reads itself like a minor difference in the formulation, but has a major impact on the proceeding.

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Hello World!

Transforming an existing and effective product team with its own existing processes into an even more effective SCRUM team is quite a challenging task. You need to get to know both people and organization and see how you spread agile values amongst both best. In a current client’s assignment we reached a point where the process is learned and the values & mindest widely settled. Now the risk of boring the team with repeating facilitation techniques is high, which is a luxury problem I am quite glad to face ;-). Finishing the preparations for todays retrospective I started retrospect the state of making things happen a little.

Starting my own business this february was quite a ride. I was lucky to have a product vision ready for my venture - Strategic Play helped developing it in an awesome CoCreAct workshop. With some local companies waiting for me to work for them the biggest challenge was the bureaucratic means necessary to go into business. Since then my concept of offering both Process Coaching and Application Development - knock on wood - works out quite nice. I sometimes need to explain how I am able to offer both, but that’s another story.

Finding my own product vision (image: 5v3n.com)

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