I had the pleasure of running the third class of the Startup Leadership Program on the rather daunting topic of Lean Startup Methodology. The theory of the methodology has been around of quite a few years and rather than opt for a didactic session which could easily become very boring, I decided to take the class outside and get them thinking on their feet.
Prior to the class, we sent out reading and watching material ahead of time so the classmate who were interested could take some time to familiarise themselves with the concept. The objective of the class was to provide the tools needed to design a hypothesis, test the idea out in public, get real time feedback and consequently be able to discuss the results. While this exercise could easily be carried out with in the group, it would be far more interesting to encourage the diverse group of fellows to step out of their comfort zones and see if they can meet an equally diverse group of people on the streets of London. This was the Real challenge.
Setup of the Class
To begin with, I spent a short time introducing the methodologies and its key components. After which, A Fellow volunteered his business to be used a background problem (a live parcel tracking system). He was encouraged to talk about potential problems he perceived in his business. This was done to give the rest of the class a starting point. All the Fellows were split into 3 groups and given the space to be creative and see if they thought there was an issue the business was overlooking. In their groups, they spent some time discussing their thoughts and given the Lean Canvas and a document that would help think through their chosen hypotheses. Once ready, each group was set free to get on the streets to find people to talk to. Most people ended up in a Pub, which has the advantage of already being a social environment. Once satisfied, everyone returned, and we spent some time discussing each groups’ hypothesis and results.
What did we Learn?
We had a pleasant discussion about the methodology and its merits. For the fellow who volunteered his business, he benefitted from the ideas and results generated by the groups and certainly was keen to take them back to his business and explore them further. With the rest of the group we discussed the method in which they could approach people, whether every idea was appropriate to be tested in this way and the apprehensions involved with approaching a stranger. Being London, it was quite apparent from all the groups that they found tourists quite easy to find and were willing to participate. But discussed whether the results were valid locally. Certainly, there would be cultural differences and perceptions that need to be considered.
It was an intense Monday evening and 3 hours would simply just not be enough time to properly explore the Methodology. The class saw the benefit of feedback generation and certainly saw the value of bringing this methodology into their own businesses.
As the Class CEO, Planning logistics for this class was the biggest challenge. The volume of content to cover, combined with the practical nature of the class means that you must push the groups to run in a planned time frame to ensure the class runs on time. One thing I would do differently is to help the groups plan where they could potentially meet people. Whilst I verbally suggested ideas, given our location, most people ended up in the same Pub!
My advice to the future Class CEO 2019 is to not only
consider the volume of the methodology, but also think about the logistics of
how they envision the class to run. Planning here is key, what would you do if several
fellows were absent? What if the person who volunteered their business is not
able to attend on the day? Finally, don’t under estimate the discussion, spending
adequate time here not only helps the class but you as the CEO benefits from learning