“Do as you preach” – my Lean Start-up experiment

Organic. It is a very important word for me. I am an organic chemist by profession. A “scientist”, gone people professional, by chance and by passion.

Organic gives a word for a system that constantly is adapting and learning, changing according to it’s surrounding. The feedback loops in an organic system are short, sometimes immediate. The organic system will find equilibrium, and aim for homeostasis, until the state is impacted by yet another external change.

I was introduced to Eric Ries’s concept of product/service development, Lean Startup, some years ago. It is about accepting the idea of now knowing the correct answer, finding out what works by constant iteration according to experiments, short feedback loops and failing fast. Sounded very familiar. As did agile methodologies. This is copying the organic learning mechanisms in a ridiculously smart way to product development!

My internal chatter

“I want to work like this. Through Lean Startup. I believe in an organic way of learning and adapting.”

“But I am a consultant. How can I sell guessing? I should know.”

“Should I? …But I really don’t!”

“What if I’d just say this is my “60% good guess” and “I am confident enough that I could learn the rest?”

“They will think I am mad.”

“So what? I want to work with the ones who get this. And for the ones who think I am mad – join the club, the queue is over there.”

“Oh this is sooooo cool! I’ll just try it and see what happens. Who cares if I fail?”

And so I did.

My Lean Startup experiment

I sent a “good guess” of a training/workshop to about 8 very prominent, highly skilled and sharp people in my HR network. Some people I knew from before quite well, some not that well.

I said I don’t have any colleagues, and I am asking them, as my potential customers, to be my product development “minds”. I told them that I am sending out something which is about 60% good and I’d like them to take their best shots at making this better, best shots at killing what is irrelevant, and commenting on how this could be of value for them or other HR’s.  I apologized for using their time, and thanked them a lot in beforehand. I was not expecting people to spend time on it. “If you can just spare a couple of minutes”…

I could not in my wildest dreams believe the specificity and valuable feedback I got from these professionals!! I was pretty emotional that people who are busy, very busy, had taken the time to help me. To help me succeed. Thank you, if you are reading this. It means very much to me. I changed some central parts of the “product”.

The result of the experiment

I am happy to show the result of this experiment. The workshop “Rethink HR” (SlideShare) – created and modeled with the help of my potential customers. Two of who have contacted me to continue discussions around how to start taking steps towards modern HR. (This is only in ugly ppt. format, but you’ll get the point… (my design department is on vacation).

Thanks to Ola Sundell for introducing me to Lean Startup many years back! Thanks to the lovely agile coaches, lean pros and Finland’s best agile practitioners (you know who you are!) for always answering my stupid questions when I want to learn more about these things.

I hope I will be able to deliver many of these programs, and we will together with my clients get to Rethink HR version 2.0, 3.0 etc… After running it ftf for some time my experiment might be trying digitalizing the content into Eliademy or Coursera.

You can call me Pivot-Riina.

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