Thursday, September 20, 2012

Workshop: Lean Startup in the Enterprise with Giff Constable, Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden

This post was co-written by Eric Ries and Sarah Milstein, co-hosts of The Lean Startup Conference.

On December 4 at The Lean Startup Conference, three of New York's top UX designers will lead a workshop we're really excited about, Lean Startup in the Enterprise. We hope our Q&A here with two of them here today gives you a taste of their sensibility and what you can expect from their session. Gold and Platinum Passes get you into the workshops, and this one is particularly suited to people who are implementing Lean Startup ideas is established companies.

Coincidentally, NewContext—the presenter of this year’s Lean Startup Conference--announced today that these designers, all of them founders of Proof, have joined their company. The crew comprises: Jeff Gothelf, author of the upcoming O'Reilly book Lean UX: Getting Out of the Deliverables Business; Josh Seiden, who was previously the program director for LUXr’s New York City practice, was responsible for design at Liquidnet, and is a founder and past President of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA); and Giff Constable, who has built and marketed consumer applications, games, and enterprise software for many of the biggest companies in the world.

Josh and Jeff answered some questions for us this week:

What aspect of lean startup methods most inspires you?

Josh: I'm really inspired by the customer development angle of Lean Startup. As a designer, my focus has always been on helping teams see value through the eyes of the user. It's exciting for me that the Lean Startup community shares this definition of value.

Jeff: The ability to get a realistic look at our proposed ideas much earlier than ever before. Also, the role of the customer in the process makes the focus of the effort about them—what works best to solve their needs—as opposed to what is best for those involved in the business.

What makes it hard for companies to implement this process?

Josh: So many companies measure employee productivity by measuring output. How many lines of code did you write? Did you deliver the specification on time? But these outputs do not create value. It takes a big shift in management culture to allow teams to pursue value directly—in other words, to measure teams based on the outcomes of their work. 

Jeff: Lean teams need many lines of support from their organizations but the most important one is the freedom to experiment and fail. Without that, the entire build/measure/learn loop collapses into a sea of red tape and CYA activities. Teams need to know that it's safe for them to run experiments, learn from those and then run some more. This freedom is new to many managers who are used to traditional command-and-control styles of management. Lean teams cannot be micromanaged. 

What will people take away from your workshop?

Josh: We're really excited by the potential of Lean Startup in the enterprise, and we know lots of other folks share that enthusiasm. We'll be sharing case studies and techniques, and we expect a lively discussion with others who are putting these methods into practice. This is going to be a very responsive session, so we're hoping that folks come ready to ask questions and share lessons.

Jeff: Attendees of our workshop will hear case studies from the enterprise about how other organizations have tackled the challenges of implementing Lean Startup and what the outcomes were. In addition, we will open the floor to a conversation with our attendees to get a sense of where they're struggling, what's worked/failed for them and sources for their inspiration. Attendees will take away a tactical list of tools and techniques to start implementing these ideas in their organizations the next day. 

Giff, Jeff and Josh are all popular speakers. These videos should give a sense of why. Here’s Giff on “Excuses, Excuses, Excuses." Jeff on “Demystifying Design." Josh on “Replacing Requirements with Hypotheses."

If you’re thinking about registering for The Lean Startup Conference, bear in mind that we’re selling early-bird tickets in blocks. When this block sells out—as of this posting, the current block is nearly gone--the price goes up. Register now for a Gold or Platinum Pass to attend the workshops!

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