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How a foosball table can kill your startup – part two

MaslowSince an article I wrote in June of 2009 called “How a foosball table can kill your startup” is still sparking attention and conversation, I think the time is ripe for me to expand on the topic. Yes, I still believe that tchotchke “benefits” do nothing but waste money.  Instead, use your resources to attract new, retain your best talent, and improve your team’s happiness.

Here are additional issues for us to consider…

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ThumbnailApolinaras is a business operations leader with 12-year track record of helping companies manage growth, build diverse teams, harness technology, and get a lot more profitable.
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Does Recruiting a Diverse Team Mean Discriminating Against the Majority?

Jun 16
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ClonesI recently had a conversation with a friend about the importance of building a diverse team. It is a subject I spend a lot of time on, since my own personal experience and countless research articles have shown that a diverse teams deliver better product and increased efficiency. If you are interested in this research, follow professor Vivek Wadhwa on Twitter. He usually has links to it that do not require journal subscribtion.

Then my friend uttered something that I commonly hear – “are you saying you should engage in discrimination against the majority?” My answer that is: if that is what you call “discrimination”, then hell yes!

Not only should we avoid hiring clones of our current employees, but we should shy away from building an environment and employee benefits based on the “hot” formula that is only appealing to the majority. Hiring “blindly” and on qualifications alone is no longer good enough! Bringing great skills and knowledge onboard is no longer good enough! Every new person you add should bring in a healthy dose of a unique perspective, experience, culture, personal story, etc. The truth is – people like to hire others who are like them. So you must make an effort to hire outside of your “comfort zone”.

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Page history last edited by Jonathan Buford 1 mo ago

Lean Startup Meetups from around the world (alphabetic by city)

If you create a Lean Startup Meetup on please tag it with "lean-startup" tag so it can be found on this map.  If you want advice from other Lean Startup Meetup organizers, apply to join the Lean Startup Circle Federation.



Lean Startup SmackDown
4 months ago
Audio Podcast:Evangelizing for the Lean Startup
September 30, 2009
Eric Ries  Bio button   |   Author
Entrepreneurial Thought Leader Lecture Series
KJB de signets graphiques
March 10, 2010
Conventional Vs. Unconventional Marketing by David Armano via

Conventional Vs. Unconventional Marketing by David Armano via

12:29 pm
1 of 1
Secret Lab by Peter Vidani.
Running on Tumblr.
KJB de signets graphiques
March 10, 2010
Experience Design With 4D Process : Discovery / Design / Develop / Deploy via

Experience Design With 4D Process : Discovery / Design / Develop / Deploy via

12:32 pm

13 axes de progrès pour votre entreprise

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Bertrand_philippe Par Philippe Bertrand (chroniqueur exclusif) - Entrepreneur et Manager

Comme vous avez pu le lire dans une bonne partie de mes articles publiés sur Enviedentreprendre, je suis un passionné des méthodes de progrès telles que la TPM, le Lean…

Malheureusement, force est de constater au travers de mes expériences personnelles et des contacts que j’ai avec d’autres, que ces méthodes sont loin d’être faciles à implémenter.  Pour de bonnes raisons – leur complexité - et de mauvaises… c’est-à-dire la rigueur qu’elles exigent auxquels, nous européens, ne sommes pas habitués (voire prédisposés…) contrairement à nos amis Japonais.

L’objectif de cet article est de proposer une approche moins complexe et donc plus facile à implémenter (quant à la rigueur, c’est un mal nécessaire…).

Cette approche repose, d’une part sur quatre concepts simples, abondement illustrés dans mes articles précédents, à savoir :

En espérant que ce « 13 » vous porte bonheur, ainsi qu’à votre entreprise.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Principles of Product Development Flow

If you've ever wondered why agile or lean development techniques work,The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development by Donald G. Reinertsen is the book for you. It's quite simply the most advanced product development book you can buy.

For those who hunger for a rigorous approach to managing product development, Donald Reinertsen's book is epic. Myths are busted on practically every page, even myths that are associated with lean/agile. For example, take the lean dictum of working in small batches. I push this technique quite often, because traditional product development tends to work in batches that are much too large. Yet it's not correct to say that batch sizes should be as small as possible. Reinertsen explains how to calculate the optimal batch size from an economic point of view, math and all. It's wonderful to have an author take these sorts of questions seriously, instead of issuing yet another polemic.

The book is structured as a series of principles, logically laid out and briefly discussed - 175 in all. It moves at a rapid clip, each argument backed up with the relevant math and equations: , , , , you name it. This is not for the faint of heart.

The use of economic theory to justify decisions is a recurring theme of the book. Its goal is to help us recognize that every artifact of our product development process is really just a proxy variable. Everything: schedules, efficiency, throughput, even quality. In order to trade them off against each other, we have to convert their impact into economic terms. They are all proxies for our real goal, maximizing an economic variable like profit or revenue.Therefore, in order to maximize the true productivity (aka profitability) of our development efforts, we need to understand the relationships between these proxy variables.

Just for the economic explanations, this book would be worth the price of admission. But it goes beyond that, including techniques for improving the economics of product development. Reinertsen weaves together ideas from lean manufacturing, maneuver warfare, queuing theory, and even the architecture of computer operating systems and the Internet. It's refreshing to see ideas from these different domains brought together in a coherent way:
Reinertsen is keenly aware of what makes product development different from other business functions, like manufacturing, that we sometimes use as a metaphor. Product development deals in designs, which are fundamentally intangible. This is why product development routinely creates disruptive innovation, because our ability to invent new products is limited only (well, primarily) by our capacity for imagination. And yet it is this same ephemeral nature that gives rise to the most difficult problems of product development: how to tell if we're making progress, the high variability of most product development tasks (e.g. will this bug take 5 minutes or 5 weeks to fix?), and the resulting extreme uncertainty that is, incidentally, the environment where startups thrive.

To motivate you to buy this book, I want to walk you through some of Reinertsen's indictment of the status quo in product development, which is based on his extensive interviews, surveys, and consulting work. He starts the book with twelve cardinal sins. See if any of these sound familiar:
Reinertsen is not pulling punches. For example, here's him discussing our collective blindness to queues:
Or take this indictment of our worship of efficiency:
Or consider principle B9: The Batch Size Death Spiral Principle: Large batches lead to even larger batches:
This snippet is characteristic of Reinertsen's writing style and reasoning. He shows how the actions of people inside traditional systems are motivated by their rational assessment of their own economics. By setting up the wrong incentives, we are rewarding the very behaviors that we seek to prevent. Reinertsen has a visceral anger about all that waste, and his stories are crackling with disdain for the people who manage such systems - especially when their actions are motivated by intuition, voodoo, or blindness. Startups are frequently guilty as charged - the 4-year death march example above could be written about dozens of venture-backed companies slogging it out in the land of the living dead.

Reinertsen does not speak about startups specifically - his book is meant to speak broadly to product development teams across industries and sectors. Yet his analysis of the sources of waste in development and the remedies that allow us to iterate faster are especially useful for startups. There is an important caveat, however. Product development in established companies and markets has a clear economic rationale to judge effectiveness and productivity. The goal is to increase profitability by making high-ROI investments in new products. To give one example, Reinertsen emphasizes the power of measuring the (COD) of a new product. That is, in order to make economically rational decisions about cycle time for a given process, we should understand what it costs the company if the products produced by that process are delayed by, say, one day. Armed with that information, we can make rational trade-offs. Take one of Reinertsen's example:
Does this sound familiar? Many of the startups I talk to - and their boards - seem to equate ability to "hit the schedule" with competence and productivity. Yet timely delivery of new features often comes at the expense of agility, especially if cycle times are long. That is often a bad trade (although, as I'm sure Reinertsen would hasten to add, not always!). For example, many startups would do better by removing buffers from their schedules, embracing the variability of their delivery times, and reducing their cycle times.

Even worse, and unlike their established counterparts, startups often experience a non-quantifiable cost of delay. In a truly new market, we face no meaningful competition, there are no tradeshows to present at, and customers are not clamoring for our product. This means that there are no external factors that argue for shipping product on any given day. A day delay has almost no cost, as far as profitability is concerned. Remember that startups operate by a different unit of progress: what I call . Any activity that promotes learning is progress, and productivity needs to be measured with respect to that. And that's also where we need to modify some of the specific practices Reinertsen recommends. If the product development team can be engaged in activities that promote business learning at the expense of shipping - or even selling - product, that's a good trade. Hence the need for partitioning our resources into a separate . As with any methodology, applying the principles faithfully may require modifying the practices to fit a specific context.

Let me close with an excerpt of Reinertsen at his best, using an unexpected example to illustrate the power of fast feedback to make learning more efficient:

There's far more material in this book that I would love to be able to excerpt. Unfortunately, each principle builds on the previous ones so tightly that it's hard to form coherent excerpts without quoting the whole thing. And that's exactly my point. When we're ready, this book has a tremendous amount to teach all of us. It's not a beginner's guide, and it doesn't hold your hand. Instead, it tackles the hard questions head-on. I've read it and re-read it; for a process junkie like me, I just can't put it down. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I have.

Monday, June 21, 2010