Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gov 2.0 Summit wrap-up

I had an incredible time at the Gov 2.0 Summit in Washington DC last week. I've never seen such a mixed crowd of entrepreneurs, vendors, and policy makers all in one place. There was quite an exchange of ideas. I was thrilled to be included.

I promised to post the slides for my highly abbreviated version of the lean startup presentation, so here they are. As usual, I'll include some of the real-time comments and some of my thoughts below.

Given the time constraints, I organized my presentation around two simple ideas:



I tried to make clear my usual definition of a startup, one that has nothing to do with size of company or sector of the economy. But judging from the twitter comments, it's not clear if I was able to make that case. It may be that it will prove a lot harder to make this point in DC than elsewhere:
aptuscollab: Too bad all you #g2s folks got up and left when Eric Ries took the stage. Dude is smart, his lessons apply to internal projects as well.
That's the nice thing about Twitter. You get the straight scoop, no sugar-coating. Any public speaker that doesn't take advantage of it is really missing out.

On to what seems to have stuck:
kwooleyy: #g2s Showed startup OODA loop developed by USAF pilot John Boyd
I included two Boyd-inspired books in the recommended reading list on the right-hand side of this blog: Certain to Win and Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War. With a number of military men and women in the audience, I couldn't resist a plug. Boyd's ideas have inspired a lot of the principles underlying my work.
whorunsgov: Eric Ries: Startups fail not because the technology works, but because no one wants the tech. once it launches. #g2s
The very abbreviated version of Customer Development (channeling Steve Blank).

nickvitalari: Lean startups mean more experiments for dollars and human capital invested #ngenera #g2s
I'm trying to keep hitting on the theme of the human capital waste when we invest our smartest and most creative people into a venture that builds something that nobody wants. Every bit as true for government as for enterprise - and even the two guys in a garage.
dhinchcliffe: Lean startups go faster. Do course correction called a "pivot". - @ericries "Most exciting time in history be an entrepreneur." #g2s
For more on the pivot, see Pivot, don't jump to a new vision. I don't see how it could more a more exiting time to be an entrepreneur, and certainly can't imagine another time when entrepreneurship was more important to our country's future economic prosperity.

marciamarcia: The L word (learning) onstage at #g2s from @ericries. Finally. Startup=Experiment. http://startuplessonslearned.com
Amen! It's natural at a gathering like this to focus on new technology and applications. A lot of conversation was about what "the federal government" should do. But it's all too easy to lose sight of the fact that any government, even one as large as the US, is made up entirely of people. And so the right questions to ask, when we're talking about fostering innovation in any human institution, are: how can we foster a culture of learning and discovery? And it's my hope that the lean startup can provide some guidance in that direction.

Thanks to everyone who made the summit such a great event!


  1. Eric, I think you nutted this. The graphic with the pink x's really told the story. Two years from now half or more will be permanently residing in Gonesville. Startups are an experiment - completely!

  2. I just word that video of my gov2summit talk is up here:


  3. Federal government should do nothing.. more governemnt means more regulations, less competition and less innovation. Every gov should get out of the way completely because it consists of rent seekers and suckers that work for those who pay more.

  4. Great presentation. I think the key (in government) is finding a way to make the failure less painful. Even if something is presented as an experiment, the culture of blame tends to pin it to individuals. The pivot gets hard when there is a five year contract to build something that was specified in detail, but leaving out the detail leaves us open to complaints about waste and lack of oversight. I had a comment published in Federal Computer Week last month that covered similar ground from the perspective of introducing new technology.