e-Boost Chicago returns April 8, 2017!

e-Boost Chicago returns April 8, 2017!

e-boost Chicago is an event for entrepreneurial Hope College and Trinity Christian College students, sponsored by the Center for Entrepreneurship and Community Empowerment.

Visit Google Headquarters, 320 N Morgan St #600, Chicago, IL 60607, Chicago, IL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2xO4p0ApXw

Tour 1871, the “hub of Chicago’s thriving technology and entrepreneurial ecosystem,” theMART, 222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza #1212, Chicago, IL

Reconvene at Chicago Semester, 11 E Adams, Suite 1200, Chicago, IL

The Relevance Partnership*

To assure relevance, education has to be a partnership between college and community. In a capstone business class, for example, the community may be represented by experienced practitioners who serve as both coaches and clients. The college is represented by students and faculty. Both faculty and practitioners, then, could coach students, helping them to apply newly learned business concepts and provide fresh perspective on existing business problems for organizational clients. We call such a class “Org Consulting.”

The syllabus looks like this:

  • Student teams meet with faculty at least once per week.
  • Before a semester begins, faculty and clients outline the scope and “deliverables” of a consulting project.
  • Once the semester begins, students are introduced to clients and continue the negotiation on the “statement of work” with help from faculty.
  • Students then meet with practitioner coaches to review the situation and get advice on “tightening up” the statement of work, including their problem statement and approach (research plan/methodology) to collect data to solve the problem, and what the students will provide the client at the end of the semester.
  • Student teams then seek approval of the statement of work from the client.
  • Halfway through the semester the student teams meet with their practitioner coaches to review the status of their methodology and hypotheses regarding the underlying problem (that is, their diagnosis of the problem underlying the problem statement) and solution strategies).
  • The student teams then meet with their client to review their progress, share their findings, and test their underlying diagnosis and solution strategies.
  • At the end of the semester the student teams meet one last time with client with their practitioners coaches in attendance to tell the story from problem statement to diagnose to solution strategy to implementation plan. The client and practitioner coaches (the community) then provide evaluation feedback for the faculty and students.

To assure relevance, education has to be a partnership between college and community.

*Special thanks to great students, coaches (Aaron, Cal, Jim, Seth, Virgil) and clients (Jordan Vande Kamp(AppProvider), Ryan Hesslau (foreverU), Chicago Semester, Palos Area Chamber of Commerce, Providence Bank & Trust, Providence Life Services, Royal Oak Landscaping) for a great Fall, 2016 Semester!

Good Company

Future Founders 2016 U.Pitch Semifinalists

  • Keyante Aytch, 3Dime Designs, DePaul University (IL)
  • Michael Black, ParkingBee, Pennsylvania State University (PA)
  • Linwood Butler, MT Music Transporter, University of Tampa (FL)
  • Claire Coder, AuntFlow, Ohio State University (OH)
  • Vinesh Kannan, Omnipointment, Illinois Institute of Technology (IL)
  • Arjun Kapoor, Scala Computing, Inc., University of Chicago (IL)
  • Tom Kruse, Win-Kel Peer-to-Peer Storage, Indiana University (IN)
  • Jason Lees, GoSpot, Northwood University (MI)
  • Jekolia Matuszewicz, UhTa Ancient Brews, Colorado College (CO)
  • Eddy Mejia, ShoeBoxOne, University of Illinois at Chicago (IL)
  • Dulbadrakh (Daniel) Natsagdorj, Urban Delivery, University of Illinois at Chicago (IL)
  • Gabe Owens, WiNot, Washington University in St. Louis (MO)
  • Matthew Rooda, SwineTech, Inc., University of Iowa (IA)
  • Pranay Singh, Averia Health, University of Chicago (IL)
  • Parisa Soraya, Find Your Ditto, University of Michigan (MI)
  • Riley Tart, MidTrade, Auburn University (AL)
  • Jordan VandeKamp, ApptProvider, Trinity Christian College (IL)
  • Ben Weiss, Zcruit, Northwestern University (IL)

Who Is START Consulting?

START Consulting is a “dream team” of Trinity Christian College students working under the auspices of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Community Empowerment. Some are Bachelor of Science students majoring in Accounting, Entrepreneurial Management, Human Resource Management, Finance, or Marketing who already have project experience because it is part of their major. Others seeking advanced business experience are students majoring in Art, Communication, Computer Science, Digital Design, English, etc. who assist as needed.

All are project-based learners with a passion for learning and serving collaboratively.

Why Do They Do It?

We are called and endowed by God to do good work. Trinity Business faculty and alums empower students to discern, develop, and deploy their gifts and calling to do that work through personal, practical, and professional education. START Consulting provides advanced learning that pushes students even further.

How Do They Do It?

START Consultants are coached by experts: practitioners and scholars. We learn from a healthy, holistic mix of perspectives across disciplines, experience levels, and generations, the kind of mix that results in creative ideas.

What Do They Do?

START Consultants work as a team on projects for for-profit and non-profit organizations. Their work involves collecting primary and secondary research and analysis, developing marketing strategies, and creating implementation plans. They help client firms explore new markets and new product ideas or help them see old ones in new ways. They think outside the box because they don’t see the box. They facilitate innovation.

 

Consulting Student Consultants

Many college students work in teams. Many engage in project-based learning. Some apply and test their knowledge, skills, and values by engaging in consulting projects, working on problems/questions given them by businesses and non-profit organizations.

Many times the students are advised by a faculty member, only ONE faculty member, their professor. But professors, even if they have Ph.Ds and years of work experience, have limited knowledge and wisdom. Their perspectives and perceptions are based on and biased by their own unique experiences. Think of the fable of the blind men and the elephant. Each of us is “blinded” by our own point of view. Thus the quality of students’ consulting work is limited by the professor’s and the students’ particular experiences (or lack thereof).

So bring in more “blind” people!

Here’s how wise practitioners add value (help us see the “elephants”):

  • Give insight into the client’s problem/opportunity
  • Give insight on the internal workings of the student team
  • Give insight on the consulting process
  • Give insight on the academic program
  • Give insight on what is holding us back!

Engaging alumni and friends in the education process is part of our not-so-secret sauce.

Asking them to advise (consult) our student consultants on intra-curricular and extra-curricular projects is just one way to do that.

And the best advisers do that simply by providing analogies and asking insightful questions.

Mission, Hedgehog, Flywheel

 

Good to Great in the Social Sector

For a summary of notes on company building from Jim Collins’ Good to Great, click here.

“During my first year on the Stanford faculty in 1988, I sought out Professor John Gardner for guidance on how I might become a better teacher.  Gardner…stung me with a comment that changed my life:  “It occurs to me, Jim, that you spend too much time trying to be interesting,” he said.  “Why don’t you invest more time being interested?” (Author’s Note)

“When you compare great companies with good ones, many widely practiced business norms turn out to correlate with mediocrity, not greatness” (p. 1).

Defining Great:  Calibrating Success Without Business Metrics

“[The] distinction between inputs and outputs is fundamental, yet frequently missed” (p. 4).

“A great organization is one that delivers superior performance and makes a distinctive impact over a long period of time” (p. 5).

“For a social sector organization…performance must be assessed relative to mission, not financial returns” (p. 5).

“It doesn’t really matter whether you can quantify results.  What matters is that you rigorously assemble evidence–quantitative or qualitative–to track your progress” (p. 7).

Level 5 Leadership–Getting Things Done Within a Diffuse Power Structure

“‘You always have power, if you just know where to find it.  There is the power of inclusion, the power of language, the power of shared interests, and the power of coalition'” (p. 10).

“In executive leadership, the individual leader has enough concentrated power to simply make the right decisions.  In legislative leadership…no individual leader–not even the nominal chief executive–has enough structural power to make the most important decisions by himself or herself.   Legislative leadership relies more upon persuasion, political currency, and shared interests to create the conditions for the right decisions to happen” (p. 11).

“Level 5 leaders differ from Level 4 leaders in that they are ambitious first and foremost for the cause, the movement, the mission, the work–not themselves–and they have the will to do whatever it takes (whatever it takes) to make good on that ambition” (p. 11).

“Level 5 leadership is not about being ‘soft’ or ‘nice’ or purely ‘inclusive’ or ‘consensus-building.’  The whole point of Level 5 is to make sure the right decisions happen–no matter how difficult or painful–for the long-term greatness of the institution and the achievement of its mission, independent of consensus or popularity” (p. 11).

“If I place a loaded gun to your head, I can get you do to things you might not otherwise do, but I’ve not practiced leadership: I’ve exercised power.  True leadership exists only if people follow when they have the freedom not to” (p. 13).

First Who–Getting the Right People on the Bus, Within Social Sector Constraints

“The great companies…focused on getting and hanging on to the right people in the first place–those who are productively neurotic, those who are self-motivated and self-disciplined, those who wake up every day, compulsively driven to do the best they can because it is simply part of their DNA” (p. 15).

“First, the more selective the process, the more attractive a position becomes–even if volunteer or low pay.  Second, the social sectors have one compelling advantage: desperate craving for meaning in our lives….Third, the number-one resource for a great social sector organization is having enough of the right people willing to commit themselves to the mission” (pp. 16-17).

The Hedgehog Concept-Rethinking the Economic Engine Without a Profit Motive

“The essence of the Hedgehog Concept is to attain piercing clarity about how to produce the best long-term results, and then exercising the relentless discipline to say, ‘No thanks you’ to opportunities that fail the hedgehog test.”  When we examined the Hedgehog Concepts of good-to-great companies, we found they reflected deep understanding of three intersecting circles: 1) what you are deeply passionate about, 2) what you can be the best in the world at, and 3) what drives your economic engine” (p. 17).

“[A] fundamental difference between the business and social sectors [is that the] third circle of the Hedgehog Concept shifts from being an economic engine to a resource engine” (p. 18).

I submit the resource engine has three basic components: time, money, and brand.  ‘Time’…refers to how well you attract people willing to contribute their efforts for free, or at rates below what their talents would yield in business (First Who).  ‘Money’…refers to sustained cash flow.  ‘Brand’…refers to how well your organization can cultivate a deep well of emotional goodwill and mind-share of potential supporters” (p. 18).

“The critical step in the Hedgehog Concept is to determine how best to connect all three circles, so that they reinforce each other.  You must be able to answer the question: ‘How does focusing on what we can do best tie directly to our resource engine, and how does our resource engine directly reinforce what we can do best?” (p. 22).

Turning the Flywheel–Building Momentum by Building the Brand

“By focusing on your Hedgehog Concept, you build results.  Those results, in turn, attract resources and commitment, which you use to build a strong organization.  That strong organization then delivers even better results, which attracts greater resources and commitment, which builds a stronger organization, which enables even better results” (pp. 23, 24).

“[Building a great organization requires a shift to ‘clock building’–shaping a strong, self-sustaining organization that can prosper beyond any single programmatic idea or visionary leader” (pp. 24, 25).

“[A] key link in the social sectors is brand reputation-built upon tangible results and emotional share of heart–so that potential supporters believe not only in your mission, but in your capacity to deliver on that mission” (p. 25).

“Every institution has its unique set of irrational and difficult constraints, yet some make a leap while others facing the same environmental challenges do not….Greatness is not a function of circumstance.  Greatness…is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline” (p. 31).

What Does It Mean to Find Your Calling?

1st and 2nd-year college students ask: What program do I major in?

3rd and 4th-year college students ask: What type of job do I pursue?

College alums ask: Am I in the right job? The right career?

For many people the question ultimately becomes: Am I called to do something? What am I called to do?

The answers aren’t clear. And the questions don’t end. They don’t end because many times our jobs, careers, and lives don’t jive with our deepest beliefs and values, or God’s Word.  You might say, at an archetypal level, we always feel a bit lost because we were created to work and we can’t find work that completely fulfills us; in short, we are looking for a way back to Eden — where we live in perfection relationship with God, humanity, and creation. The truth is that we won’t find it in this world, but in the next. So our quest in faith continues. It has to. We are wired to seek God’s blessing. It is our journey of faith.

What We Are Called To Do

The Gospel of Matthew calls us to be blessed. What does that mean?

It means to be pure of heart. It boggles the mind to think it is a blessing to be pure of heart. To be pure of heart seems so boring. It doesn’t seem like living that way would be any fun. But that is our good culture perverted by sin making us feel that way, not the Word of the Gospel.

So what does being holistically counter-cultural mean for our daily lives?

Three Levels Of Calling

Gordon Smith also tells us that in addition to being called to believe, we are called to a mission and to immediate responsibilities. In other words, I believe that when we choose to accept God’s Word we choose to strive to be pure of heart.  To be pure of heart means we accept an invitation to follow Jesus, seek our purpose in life (vocation), and perform our day-to-day work (occupation), forever trying to integrate our occupation with our vocation, which is the key to spiritual growth and happiness.

So choosing to follow Jesus is a fundamental, critical decision. Following that, a fundamental critical decision is discovering our mission, purpose, vocation.

Vocation vs Occupation

These days, when we hear the word calling, we hear it in the context of our job. Or, it refers only to the ministry. Both interpretations are extreme. Our calling is not our occupation, and it is not narrowly limited to working for a church; our mission is bigger than any job. Our occupation may be only a means to an end; or, it may be more. But more than likely we have a greater purpose, a more holy purpose. Even though we can argue that work is part of God’s good creation (Adam and Eve worked in the Garden before the Fall), our work life, the economy, etc. are also part of the fallen world. Our calling may be more pure, yet never (in this life anyway) practiced with moral perfection and purity of heart.

An analogy may be helpful. In our job, we tend to seek upward mobility. That is the way of the world. But Jesus calls us to downward mobility — to be a servant of all, a Good Samaritan. To get a job and career, we tend to advertise our “resume virtues.” We emphasize what we did according to an economic model. Yet when we die, people remember us for our “eulogy virtues,” for who we were according to a moral model. To put it another way, Adam I is the Adam of occupation. Adam II is the Adam of calling. The culture of occupation tends to be one of scarcity and upward mobility; the culture of vocation tends to be one of abundance and downward mobility.

  • “Adam I — the creating, building, and discovering Adam — lives by a straightforward utilitarian logic. It’s the logic of economics. Input leads to output. Effort leads to reward. Practice makes perfect. Pursue self-interest. Maximize your utility. Impress the world….To nurture you Adam I career, it makes sense to cultivate your strengths.
  • Adam II lives by an inverse logic. It’s a moral logic, not an economic one. You have to give to receive. You have to surrender to something outside yourself to gain strength within yourself. …In order to fulfill yourself, you have to forget yourself. In order to find yourself, you have to lose yourself….To nurture you Adam II moral core, it is necessary to confront your weaknesses” (David Brooks, The Road to Character, p. xii).

Other Myths About Vocation

In addition to equating our job to our occupation, we may have accepted other myths about calling.

  • Calling (vocation) is not something we find alone. God blesses us through other people. Calling requires accountability and feedback from our community. This reflects or primary, general calling; Elizabeth Newman writes that our primary calling “is to be a people who live in communion with our triune God” (“Called Through Relationship” in Kruschwitz, Vocation: Christian Reflection).
  • Calling (vocation) is not something we choose. What we choose is whether to accept it. Calling starts with listening, listening to what grieves us. To be called requires hearing. For example, “Moses did not invent or determine his vocation, he receives it from God….’Vocation’ differs from ‘career’ in this regard; while ‘career’ (related to a Medieval Latin word for ‘race track’) refers primarily to human effort (as in ‘What do you do for a living?’), vocation points in another direction. The initiative resides not with us, but with the One who calls and invites” (Newman, ibid).
  • Calling (vocation) is more than “finding our talents and figuring out what to do with them. Rather and more fully, it is discovering and living out of the infinite and gratuitous abundance of God” (Newman, ibid). Think of Moses: sometimes our calling may not match up with our talents.
  • Calling (vocation) is more than meeting market needs in a profitable way; calling pulls us into unprofitable situations. Vocations are revealed through grieving about the market’s shortcomings. Bill Hybels writes that calling begins with experiencing “holy discontent.” What in the world we grieve about is something God places on our heart.  For example, does economic injustice make you sad? Does racism? Segregation? Sexism? Poverty? Lack of childcare in your church or community? Lack of care or concern for the elderly? Lack of care and concern for the marginalized? The people in prison? Lack of good educational options? Food deserts? The inability to share information among friends and family? Cancer? Alcoholism?  The parts of the world’s brokenness that make you sad are those parts that are worth paying attention to.

Richard Goosen and R. Paul Stevens summarize nicely a positive perspective on calling in Entrepreneurial Leadership:

Dimensions of Vocation

  • God takes the initiative. “[Calling] is not generated from within a person but from the outside, and the outside comprises not merely our parents and our society, but God….All calling is based on the reality of a God who takes initiative, who seeks to include human beings in his grand project of transforming everything” (p. 111).
  • We are called to be others-focused. “We are called to a way of life…as other-oriented values and goals as the primary source of motivation. The calling is to life — relationships, civic responsibilities, church membership, family, neighboring and work — not just to work….we are called not only to invent, innovate and accomplish, but to do this in a particular way, the way of faith, hope and love, the way of justice, compassion and self-control” (pp. 111, 112).
  • We are called to be purpose-driven. “Calling…directs people to approach a particular life role (e.g. work) in a manner oriented toward demonstrating or deriving a sense of purpose or meaningfulness….The English Puritans brilliantly distinguished between the ‘general’ calling, by which people are summoned into a relationship with God to become children of God, and the ‘particular’ calling, by which people are guided into particular occupations, such as magistrate, homemaker, pastor or merchant” (p. 112).
  • We are called to a contribute to a Grand Purpose, to be part of the Grand Narrative. “Life and work are not merely for our own advancement, not even simply to provide for our families, but we are caught up in a grand purpose, in the grand story of God’s plan for creation and people. The entire notion of calling is rooted in the meta-narrative of the Christian faith and subsumed by it” (p. 113). Thus, “‘Calling is a transcendent summons, experienced as originating beyond the self, to approach a particular life role (e.g., work) in a manner oriented toward demonstrating or deriving a sense of purpose or meaningfulness, and that which holds other-oriented values and goals as primary sources of motivation'” (Philip Wu, as quoted in Entrepreneurial Leadership, pp. 109, 110). The Grand Narrative? Creation, Fall, Redemption.

A Process For Discerning Our Vocation

So if we believe God has given us a purpose for our lives as a way to bless us and call us to purity of heart, how do we discern that purpose? Goosen and Stephens give us some advice in the form of self-reflection questions.

  • What are our passions and motivations? What gets us our of bed in the morning? What makes us feel fully alive? “‘We ask to know the will of God without guessing that his will is written into our very beings'” (Elizabeth O’Connor, as quoted in Entrepreneurial Leadership, p. 120). “What do we daydream about? In what kind of activity do we lose all sense of time? When do [we] feel fully alive? What are the things [we] obsess about, wish [we] had more time to put energy into? What needs doing in the world that [we’d] like to put [our] talents to work on? What activities reflect deep and consistent interests? This is from God, built into us by the Creator” (p. 120). For Bill Hybels, this list should also include that part of the broken world that causes of grief. It will likely be something we experience personally. You might say, then, with Henri Nouwen, that we are called to be “Wounded Healers.”
  • What are our gifts and talents? What are we naturally good at doing? Where might there be an overlap between our skills and opportunities (to serve others and make a living) and our deepest motivations? “God calls us by equipping us to serve in a specific way” (p. 121). However, “God does not have a wonderful plan for our lives as is often proposed….God has something better than a wonderful plan: a wonderful purpose. A plan is terrifying, especially if we make a mistake in reading the directions. A purpose is evocative. A purpose is like a fast-moving stream that carries us along and allows for some mobility from side to side…” (p. 119).
  • What is our unique personality? There are many accessible tools to assess this and coaches to help us interpret the results. I have found Myers-Briggs and free on-line knockoffs (“16 Personalities”) to be helpful. Also, I have found Peter Drucker’s class article “Managing Oneself” to be valuable.
  • What values and virtues do we cherish? Values are “cherished ways of behaving.” E.g., living with integrity can be a value, as is living according to a vision and purpose. Virtues are ingrained personality traits, such as faith, hope, and love, that determine how we function. Virtues, in contrast to values, have opposites — vices.  Christian virtues include the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23)” (p. 122). [Vices might result from our need to be needed, a need for status and approval, a need to be in control — called “blocks and dysfunctionalities” (p. 123).]
  • What providential circumstances have led us to this point? It turns out that where we were born and the family we were born into and the one we created are important, as are the messy things in life we experienced. Henri Nouwen wrote a great book, Wounded Healers, to make the point that Christ was wounded to heal us. We too have experienced wounds which help us understand the circumstances of others. Parker Palmer also speaks best to this point. He says, “Let your life speak.” We don’t make the call. We listen to what God is already doing in our lives. Calling is something we see by looking in the rear-view mirror.
  • What is God saying about our purpose? Some people hear from God directly. Most of us don’t. “Some locutions or words come from without; they are corporeal and are heard in the ear even if no one else is able to witness the sound. Some come from the inmost parts of the soul. They are imaginary, though not in the sense of fabricated. They are not heard in the ear but experienced as an impression received by an imaginary faculty. And some locutions are intellectual and spiritual as God imprints a message in the depth of the person’s spirit and understanding” (p. 124).

Where do those questions overlap for you?

Re-framing the Questions

As you can see, the questions are not:

  • What program do I major in?
  • What type of job do I pursue?
  • Am I in the right career?

The question is What am I called to do? Or, better, the question is will I accept God’s calling to believe and then choose serve God and love my neighbor? And then, How? That evolving how can be a guiding policy for your life. Your major, job, and career will then take care of themselves. The tension will then be in trying to integrate the your calling (vocation) and occupation together.

There will be tension between your vocation and occupation. Christians live in two kingdoms: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of humanity. God is forever sovereign but those kingdoms won’t perfectly overlap until Christ returns.

Vocation-Discovering Practices

Elizabeth Newman outlines some spiritual practices to facilitate the discovery of our calling (vocation).

  • Hospitality: “the practice of welcoming another person — even a stranger — into our lives, trains us to be open to surprise.”
  • Meditating on God’s Word: the practice of lectio divina, or “holy reading…enables us to grow in dependence not only on the Bible (and thus the earliest Christians) as a rich resource for forming us, but even more on God.”
  • Spiritual Direction: “the practice of meeting with a spiritual friend who listens to our stories and joins us in discerning how God is working in our lives….trains us, like lectio divina, to resist the idea that we must discern our vocation alone. Rightly understood, Christian vocation is about growing in our ability to be vulnerable, about listening to and with others for the guidance of God’s spirit.”
  • Fasting and Sabbath-keeping: the practice of sabbath-keeping “trains us to participate in the rhythm of work and rest, as we set aside time to rest in God.”
  • Prayer: “the practice of prayer helps us resist the idea, so common in our culture, that waiting is of little use….The rich kind of waiting we practice in prayer trains us to be patient with ourselves, others, and even God” (Newman, ibid).

Patience, prayer, and reflection, so counter-cultural to the culture of occupation, are a critical part of the discerning process.

A Prayer for Discernment

So what do I major in? What type of job do I want? “What am I called to do?”

The answer requires patience. Seeking to hear requires prayer. Goosen and Stevens suggest this prayer by Thomas Merton:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire in all that I am doing. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me and you will never leave me to face my perils alone” (Thomas Merton, as quoted in Entrepreneurial Leadership, p. 125).

Lord, help us listen and may our major, job/career, life, and calling/purpose significantly and holistically overlap so that we may experience the blessing of purity of heart.

 _____________________

Photo credit: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/251628

This article first appear on LinkedIn.

A Seminal Lean Start-Up Process Book

Running Lean

By Ash Maurya

“What separates successful startups from unsuccessful ones is not necessarily the fact that successful startups began with a better initial plan (or Plan A), but rather that they find a plan that works before running out of resources.  Running Lean is a systematic process for iterating from Plan A to a plan that works, before running out of resources (p. xxi).

Why are startups hard?  [They are] built on several incremental innovations (and failures), “the classic product-centric approach front-loads some customer involvement during the requirements-gathering phase but leaves most of the customer validation until after the software is released,” and, “even though customers hold all the answers, you simply cannot ask them what they want….given the right context, customers can clearly articulate their problems, but it’s your job to come up with the solution” (p. xxii).

Customer Development is a term coined by Steve Blank and is used to describe the parallel process of building a continuous feedback loop with customer throughout the product development cycle….The key takeaway from Customer Development can be best summed up as Get out of the building” (p. xxiii).

“[Bootstrapping] is funding with customer resources” (p. xxiii)

Three core meta-principles: Document your Plan A [BUILD], Systematically Test your Plan [MEASURE] and Identify the Riskiest Parts of your Plan [LEARN] [NOTE change in sequence vs. book.]

Meta-Principles

Meta-Principle 1: Document Your Plan A

Reasonable smart people can rationalize anything, but entrepreneurs are especially gifted at this [Steve Job’s REALITY DISTORTION].Most entrepreneurs start with a strong initial vision and a Plan A for realizing that vision.  Unfortunately, most Plan A’s don’t work (p. 4).

“The first step is writing down your vision and then sharing it with at least one person” (p. 4).

  • Business Model Canvas

Your job isn’t just building the best solution, but owning the entire business model and making all the pieces fit (p. 7).

Lean Canvas helps deconstruct your business model into nine distinct subparts that are then systematically tested, in order of highest to lowest risk” (p. 7).

Meta-Principle 2: Systematically Test Your Plan  [Note change in sequence vs. book.]

“Startups are a risk business, and our real job as entrepreneurs is to systematically de-risk our startups over time” (p. 7).

The biggest risk for most startups is building something nobody wants” (p. 8).

  • Stage 1: Problem/Solution Fit: Do I have a problem worth solving?
    • [Do I understand the problem?  Is it severe enough to motivate action?]
    • Is the solution something customers want?  Will they pay for it [market desirability]
    • Can the problem be solved [technical feasibility]
    • [Can I make money? [business validity]
    • [Is this solution scalable?]
  • Stage 2: Product/Market Fit: [Have I built something that will work that people will  want badly enough they will pre-order at a price I can live with?]
  • Stage 3: Scale: How do I accelerate growth?

“Before product/market fit, the focus of the startup centers on learning and pivots.  After product/market fit, the focus shifts toward growth and optimizations….Pivots are about finding a plan that works, while optimizations are about accelerating that plan (p. 9).

“[The] ideal time to raise your big round of funding is after product/market fit, because at that time, both you and your investors have aligned goals: to scale the business” (p. 10).

“Selling to investors without any level of validation is a form of waste” (p. 11).

Meta-Principle 3: Identify the Riskiest Parts of Your Plan

“With your Plan A documented and your starting risks prioritized, you are now ready to systematically test your plan” (p. 11).  Experiment: Build-Measure-Learn.

  • DOCUMENT YOUR PLAN A
    • Create Your Lean Canvas
    • Brainstorm possible customers
      • Distinguish between customers and users [customers pay]” (p. 24)
      • “Split broad customer segments into smaller ones…You can’t effectively build, design, and position a product for everyone” (p. 24).
      • Sketch a Lean Canvas for each customer segment…I recommend starting with the top two or three customer segments you feel you  understand the best or find most promising” (p. 25)
    • Problem and Customer Segments
      • List the top one to three problems…Another way to think about problems is in terms of the jobs customers need done” (p. 27).
      • List existing alternatives…how you think your early adopters address these problems today….Do nothing could also be a viable alternative” (p. 27).
      • Identify other user roles…[customer, user, decision-maker, influencer]
      • “Hone in on possible early adopters…. Your objective is to define an early adopter, not a mainstream customer (p. 28).
    • Unique Value Proposition
      • “Why you are worth buying and getting attention” (p. 29
      • “Be different, but make sure your difference matter” (p. 29).
      • “Target early adopters” and “focus on finished story benefits” (p. 30).
      • [Answer WHY, HOW, WHAT — the “Golden Circle”]
      • “Create a high concept pitch” [10-second pitch using “like”]
    • Solution
      • “[Don’t] fully define your solution yet” (p. 32)
    • Channels
      • “Failing to find a significant path to customers is among the top reasons why startups fail” (p. 33)
    • Revenue Streams and Cost Structure
      • “Your MVP should address not only the top problems customers have identified as being important to them, but also the problems that are worth solving” (p. 37)
      • “I believe that if you intend to charge for a product, you should charge from day one” (p. 37)
      • “It’s hard to accurately calculate [operational costs] too far into the future.  Instead focus on the  present:
        • What will it  cost you to interview 30 to 50 customers?
        • What will it cost you to build and  launch your MVP?
        • What will your ongoing burn rate look like in  terms of both fixed and variable costs?
    • Key Metrics
      • Acquisition: “Acquisition describes the point when you turn an unaware visitor  into  an interested prospect” (p.  40) {Leads}
      • Activation: “Activation describes the point when the interested [prospect] has his first gratifying user experience” (p. 40) {Prospects}.
      • Retention: “Retention measures ‘repeated use’ and/or engagement with your product” (p. 41) {Customers}
      • Revenue
      • Referral
    • Unfair Advantage
      • “A real unfair advantage is something that cannot be easily copied or bought” (p. 43).
  • SYSTEMATICALLY TEST YOUR PLAN
    • Get Ready to Interview Customers
      • “Build a frame around learning, not pitching….Before you can pitch the “right” solution, you have  to understand the “right” customer problem.  In the learning frame, the roles are reversed: you set the context, but then you let the customers do most of the talking” (p. 73).
      • ‘“Stick to a script” (p. 74).
      • Cast a wider net initially” (p. 74).
      • Prefer face-to-face interviews” (p. 74).
      • Start with people you know” (p. 74).
      • Take someone along with you” (p. 75).
      • “Pick a neutral location” (p. 75).
      • Document results immediately after the interview” (p. 75).
      • Prepare yourself to interview 30 to 60 people” (p. 76).
    • The Problem Interview: “Your first objective is measuring how customers react to your top problems” (p. 81)  [Can also supplement by using social media to post problems and gauge reaction.]
      • Welcome (Set the Stage)
      • Collect Demographics (Test Customer Segment)
      • Tell a Story (Set Problem Context)
      • Problem Ranking (Test Problem)
      • Explore Customer’s Worldview (Test Problem [and how customers address the problem today]
      • Wrap Up [Hook and Ask]
      • Document Results
    • Debrief of Problem Interview:  “You are done when you have interviewed at least 10 people and you…
      • Can identify the demographics of an early adopter
      • Have a must-have problem
      • Can describe how customers solve the problem today” (Running Lean, p. 91)
    • The Solution Interview: “The main objective here is to use a ‘demo’ to help customers visualize your solution and validate that it will solve their problem….You want to build enough of the solution (or a proxy, like screenshots, a prototype, etc) that you can put in front of customers for the purpose of measuring their reaction and further defining the requirements for  your minimum viable product (MVP) ” (pp. 95, 96).  “Use old prospects” and “Mix in some new prospects” (p. 103).
      • Welcome (Set the Stage)
      • Collect Demographics (Test Customer Segment)
      • Tell a Story (Set Problem Context)
      • Demo (Test Solution)
      • Test Pricing (Revenue Streams)
      • Wrap Up [Hook and Ask]
      • Document Results
    • Debrief the Solution Interview
      • Share results of solution interviews, treat feedback as data, and reflect on what you will do
      • “You are done when you are confident that you…
        • Can identify the demographics of an early adopter
        • Have a must-have problem
        • Can define the minimum features needed to solve this problem
        • Have a price the customer is willing to pay
        • Can build a business around it (using a back-of-the-envelope calculation)” (Running Lean, p. 108).
    • The MVP Interview: “Your objective is to sign them up to use your [product] and, in the process, test out your messaging, pricing, and activation flow” (p. 127).
      • Welcome (Set the Stage)
      • Show Landing Page [or Prototype] (Test MVP)
      • Show Pricing Page (Test Pricing)
      • Signup [Pre-order] and Activation (Test Solution)
      • Wrap Up (Keep Feedback Loop Open)
      • Document Results

How To Stay Relevant Without Selling Your Soul

By Robert Quinn

Robert Quinn is an expert in transforming leadership.  Here are my favorite quotes from Deep Change.

Preface

Deep Change assumes that one person can change the larger system or organization in which he or she exists (p. xii).

When we have successful experienced a deep change, it inspires us to encourage others to undergo a similar experience….Having experienced deep change in ourselves, we are able to bring deep change to the systems around us (p. xiii).

Our capacity to face uncertainty and function in times of stress and anxiety is linked with our self-confidence, and our level of self-confidence is linked with our sense of increasing integrity.  We are all affected by technical competence or political acumen, but we are more deeply influenced by moral power (xiv).

Chapter 1: Walking Naked In The Land Of Uncertainty

The process of formalization initially makes the organization more efficient or effective.  As time goes on, however, these routine patterns move the organization toward decay and stagnation.  The organization loses alignment with the changing, external reality.  As a result, customers go elsewhere for their products and services, and the organization loses critical resources.  When internal and external alignment is lost, the organization faces a choice: either adapt or take the road to slow death.  Usually the organization can be renewed, energized, or made effective only if some leader is willing to take some big risks by stepping outside the well-defined boundaries.  When this happens, the organization is lured, pushed, or pulled into unknown territory (p. 5).

We can change the world only by changing ourselves (p. 9).

Traditional learning is learning linked with the past–it is learning something that someone else already knows.  “Traveling naked into the land of uncertainty” allows for another kind of learning, a learning that helps us forget what we know and discover what we need (p. 12).

Chapter 2: Confronting The Deep Change Or Slow Death Dilemma

A victim is a person who suffers a loss because of the actions of others.  A victim tends to believe that salvation comes only from the actions of others.  They have little choice but to whine and wait until something good happens.  Living with someone who chooses to play the victim role is draining; working in an organization where many people have chosen the victim role is absolutely depressing.  Like a disease, the condition tends to spread….When someone makes the initial decision to avoid confronting a difficult situation, a negative process is triggered….Often, without fully realizing it, the person has taken on the victim’s role (p. 21).

We actually seem to prefer slow death.  Slow death is the devil we know, so we prefer it to the devil we do not know (p. 24).

Life is a process of deaths and rebirths (p. 25).

Chapter 3: The Fear Of Change

One key to successful leadership is continuous personal change.  Personal change is a reflection of our inner  growth and empowerment.  Empowered leaders are the only ones who can induce real change.  They can forcefully communicate beyond a level beyond telling.  By having the courage to change themselves, they model the behavior they are asking of others (p. 35).

One of the last things we want to consider is our own selfishness and immaturity.  We resist reflecting on our own fear of change (p. 36).

Chapter 4: The Heroic Journey

The amount of energy we feel has much to do with the alignment between oneself and our surrounding environment.  We can be aligned with our environment in such a way that we feel either strong and empowered or weak and powerless (p. 41).

The hero’s journey is a story of individual transformation, a change of identity.  In embarking on the journey, we must leave the world of certainty.  We must courageously journey to a strange place where there are lots of risks and much is at stake, a place where there are new problems that require us to think in new ways (p. 45).

Chapter 5: Finding Vitality

When an impossible objective is given to people in a large hierarchy and when it is accompanied by immense pressure to produce, the people in the organization will also experience growing pressure to engage in unethical behavior.  An invisible form of corruption at the top, the exercise of authority without concern or demand without support, results in a very visible form of corruption at the bottom (p. 52).

Denial occurs when we are presented with painful information about ourselves, information that suggests that we need to make deep change.  Denial is one of several clear paths toward slow death.  When we practice denial, we work on the wrong solutions or on no solutions at all (p. 52).

We need to watch carefully for signs that we have crossed the invisible line [the line between increasing returns and decreasing returns on our efforts].  When this occurs, we need think about breaking the logic of task pursuit and charting a course toward deep change and renewed vitality (p. 55).

Chapter 6: Breaking The Logic Of Task Pursuit

A hermit, who lived far out in the forest, would cut enough wood each summer to heat his cabin through the winter.  One fall day, he heard on his shortwave radio that an early winter storm was heading for his area.  Because he had not yet cut enough wood, he rushed to his wood pile.  Examining his dull and rusty saw, he realized that it needed sharpening.  He paused for a moment, looked at his watch, looked at the height of his uncut wood pile, and shook his head.  Instead of sharpening his saw, he began to cut.  As he worked, he noted that the saw was getting increasingly dull and that he was working harder and harder.  he told himself repeatedly that he needed to stop and sharpen the saw, but he continued to cut anyway.  At the end of the day, as the snow began to fall, he sat exhausted next to a sizable pile of uncut wood.  This man was not ignorant.  He knew his saw desperately needed sharpening.  He also knew that the more he cut, the duller the blade would become.  Yet he could not bring himself to stop and sharpen the saw.  This man [made himself the — edit by svveen] victim of the logic of task pursuit (p. 59).

Chapter 7: A New Perspective

We have to reinvent ourselves so that we can meaningfully connect with our current world.  This is not such a radical thought; it’s actually an ongoing process  (p. 66).

One way to realign the self is to retell the most important stories in our life….When we repeat one of these stories, we do not tell it exactly.  We recount it from the perspective of our current problem.  It is presented in a unique way that allows us to reconnect our past foundation with our present and future structures.  In fact, what we are really doing is realigning our past to include our present and future (p. 67).

Chapter 8: Confronting The Integrity Gap

The heart of effectiveness, Torbert argues, is building integrity through the constant observation of one’s lack of integrity (p. 76).

Ultimately, deep change, whether at the personal or the organizational level, is a spiritual process.  Loss of alignment occurs when, for whatever reason, we begin to pursue the wrong end.  This process begins innocently enough.  In pursuing some justifiable end, we make a trade-off of some kind.  We know it is wrong, but we rationalize our choice.  We use the end to justify the means.  As time passes, something inside us starts to whither.  We are forced to live at the cognitive level, the rational, goal-seeking level.  We lose our vitality and begin to work from sheer discipline.  Our energy is not naturally replenished, and we experience no joy in what we do.  We are experiencing slow death (p. 78).

Chapter 9: Build The Bridge As You Walk Across It

Organizational and personal growth seldom follows a linear plan….When we have a vision, it does not mean that we have a plan.  We may know where we want to be, but we will seldom know the actual steps we must take to get there.  We must trust in ourselves to learn the way, to build the bridge as we walk on it.  Deep change is an extensive learning process.  When we pursue our vision, we must believe that we have enough courage and confidence in ourselves to reach our goal.  We must leap into the chasm of uncertainty and strive bravely ahead  (p. 84).

Chapter 22: The Power Of One

There comes a time when we all question whether something is right.  At such times, we have to listen and follow our inner voice, even when it means tackling the system and enlisting some unconventional procedures and techniques.  One person can make a difference.  However, deep change comes at a great cost.  Enacting change means taking some risks.  When we take the necessary risks, we become self-empowered.  We begin to better align our internal self with our external world.  As our internal power base grows, we become confident and make genuine progress toward our goal.  We become energized and slowly begin to recognize that we can make a difference.  We begin to understand that one person really can change the system (p. 218, 219).

Soul Entrepreneurship

By Richard J. Goossen and R. Paul Stevens (2013):

“Note the significant dimensions of Christian spirituality.

  • First, it starts with the initiative of a loving God who is seeking a relationship with his creatures.
  • Second, spirituality then is not our attempt to ascend to God by spiritual practices or to discover our own internal divinity, but takes the form of ‘recognition and response.’
  • Third, the result of this responsiveness to seeking God is not that we become angels or religious persons, but more fully human….
  • Fourth, spirituality then is not a once-for-all event but a continuous process that is concrete but never finished.
  • Fifth, the practical outworking of this spirituality is that we align ourselves with God’s intention for his creation, which is the kingdom or pervasive and life-bringing rule of God on earth.  Creating wealth and bringing well-being to people is part of this….
  • Finally, this spirituality is not cultivating extraordinary experiences but rather the infiltration of ordinary life with kingdom justice and holiness” (pp. 64, 65).

“Life, for biblical persons, is total and cannot be segmented into two parts: a disposable and normally evil shell (the body), and an indestructible spirit core (the soul).  Thus the familiar psalm ‘Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name’ (Psalm 103:1) may be simply and helpfully translated “Praise the Lord, with my whole life!’” (pp. 65, 66).

“Most significant of all, the New Testament hope is not for the immortality of the soul–an essentially Greek concept that involves disparaging the body as a useless encumbrance to the life of the spirit.  Instead, the great hope in Christ after death is the resurrection of the body–full personal and expressive life in a new heaven and a new earth” (p. 66).

“When we receive Christ, we get saved, not just our souls in the Greek sense.  This is a two-stage process.  First, our souls, our inner and longing persons, are substantially saved by being inundated by God’s Spirit, thus giving us new bodily and personal life on earth.  Second, after our death and when Christ comes again, we are given a new and perfect embodiment  through the resurrection of our entire selves, bodies included” (p. 67).

Soul Entrepreneurship

  • “First, it means you go to work as a whole person — not just mind or body, but all that inner yearning and expressiveness that links us with God….
  • Second, as soul persons with capacity to relate to God, we are given ideas, visions and perspectives that can be implemented through entrepreneurial activity.  These may be in the area of church life but also in family life and enterprises in the world….
  • Third, our actual experiences of envisioning, inventing and implementing as entrepreneurs are an arena of spiritual growth….
  • Fourth, being a soul person (and a whole person) means being relationally alive through love.  We are most godlike in relationships….
  • Finally, Christian spirituality and its recognition of a soul dimension to human life and work means that personal growth is not a human achievement (through disciplines and practices) but a response to the Spirit’s initiative….Christian spirituality is…God’s empowering presence calling human beings into dynamic relation and expressiveness” (pp. 68, 69).

The Workplace is the Primary Place for Spiritual Formation

“The marketplace is a location for spiritual formation in three ways.

  • First, it is the place where we get revealed as persons.  Our inside is revealed by what we do outside, bu the way we work, by our relationships with people, by the realities of how we go about doing day to day enterprise….
  • Second, the seven deadly sins, seven soul-sapping struggles that include pride, greed, lust, anger, envy, sloth, and gluttony, are revealed not in quiet times and prayer retreats but in the thick of life, in business meetings, as we struggle over this month’s sales, when we have to deal with an awkward customer or employee….
  • But there is a third reason….The work we do, if it is good work, is some part of God’s own work in creating, sustaining, transforming or consummating (bringing things to a good conclusion).  We are actually partners with God in our daily work” (pp. 70, 71).