A lean template for Product managing

July 26, 2016

Having recently read the Lean Startup and Start with Why I wanted to bring the two together, as I feel they can work well together, and expand upon templates I have seen online related to the Lean Startup (with the best being here).

For those that are not aware, basically the learn startup is about taking a belief, idea, problem, and turning it into small and simple experiments to try and prove or deny the belief, idea, problem as a product before you bet the farm on it and risk losing everything or spending N months to discover your idea does not work (i.e. fail fast and iterate).

With regards to the Start with Why this asks you to look at your idea, problem, and think about it from the angle of why you want to solve this rather than how you are going to solve it. Detailing the Why around a belief, idea, problem is very powerful and hence I feel that the two should work together and would like to suggest a template based around the two. To quote the “mantra” from the book; “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it

Below I define my thoughts on a template (headings in bold, and then the description) and then try and give an example for you. Very interested to get your thoughts.


The WHY:

The believe / vision behind the idea, the why that people buy into to share your believe.

This would typically be at least a paragraph explaining what you believe, why you are looking to do it, and ultimately pitching your idea.

The problem:

Now that you have outlined your vision, you know that there are many problems to over-come. Here we summarise each problem. You are writing the problem here, not the solution, this is something that you will use with the team to start expanding out to design experiments. All of the problem roll up to the The WHY, the vision.


You will have numerous experiments for each problem. The purpose behind each of these experiments is to literally test a solution for a problem by detailing the hypothesis. This hypothesis will test that the problem exists, even test your WHY. These should be cheap and simple, clearly defined, with KPIs that can determine the success or failure. These are so important as this is the feedback mechanism for your over-arching WHY and is giving you clear feedback.

A list of experiments with measurements / KPIs that can determine the success of each experiment, the format for outlining an experiment is:

Experiment Name:  – A name for the experiment which you can reference.

Hypothesis:  – This is what you plan to test, a hypothesis must be clear enough that we can prove or deny the hypothesis. Your tests do not always have to be successful, you will learn just as much (if not more) when you experiments are “failures”.

Learning goal:  – This forces us to clearly define the goal of the experiment, which saves any confusion further down the line, especially when you are presenting your results, and it keeps everyone aligned.

Metric(s):  – These are the KPIs that will help you to determine the success / results of the experiment. These are typically quantitative measures which you can measure on a frequent basis, even in real time if you so desire (although that may cost too much)

Fail condition:  – If you define this you can call the experiment failed without having to wait for the time box to expire. It is the metric that convinces you, beyond any doubt, that the hypothesis is invalid.

Timebox:  – This is the amount of time you want the experiment to run for, this should not be a long amount of time – it should be in the space weeks, not months. Experiments should move fast.

Results:  – As with any experiment you need to write up your results🙂 Plus you want a nice table detailing your result so in 6 weeks time when you are asked about it you can provide that detail.

Next Steps:  – Here we can detail what we either plan, or decide, to do next. Typically it would be the next experiment to run

So, with this in mind, I am going to put out one of my ideas….. It is not earth shattering, but I am trying it as an exercise for myself and trying provide an example of this layout.

The WHY:

We believe that air pollution is getting worst and affecting children’s and adult’s health, as well as the planet. We believe people are not aware of how bad the pollution is and we would like to democratise air quality, so that everyone can find out about the air quality local to them. Ultimately we believe that by achieving this goal we can effect local and national policy and empower people with knowledge about the quality of air around them

Right, so this is quite a big vision. Below I have tried to extract a few problems (there are many) and in turn then the experiment definitions. These are all examples.

The problem(s):

We need to know if people do care and want this

We need a tool to collect air quality data, which is cheap and simple and the data should be posted to a repository that others can access.


Experiment Name:

Air quality early adopters


I believe that there are people who care about the levels of air pollution

Will be interested in having a tool to collect data and/or investigate the collected data

Because people care about the environment and want to better understand the air pollution levels locally with the aim of being empowered to pressurise / question local authorities / government, care about the health of tomorrows generation, and want data which is local to them

Learning goal:

To understand that people are interested in the why.


At least 10% of people show an interest out of a sample of 100

Fail condition:

<5% show any interest


2 weeks

Results / conclusion:


Next Steps:

On a positive outcome we would move to the next experiment, Air Quality Collector, if the experiment fails we should revisit the Why and review this with the aim to devise more experiments to prove the Why or re-define Why.

Experiment Name:

Air Quality collector


I believe that we can build a solution solution that

will collect air quality data

Because early adopters are willing to accept a prototype

Learning goal:

To understand that we can build a cheap tool and people can use it


The projected cost for the tool cannot be more than £10 each

The tool will reliably collect air quality data

Fail condition:

The tool is too expensive

The data collected is sparse


2 weeks to test the two with early adopters

Results / conclusion:


Next Steps:

Build out the tool based on our findings, look to expand functionality and move from prototype to production quality solution

The list goes on.

As you can see the second experiment is very deep, I could imagine this could take an engineering team a while to build something. I would want to break this into smaller pieces, but without a engineering team to discuss this with I am leaving it as is. The first experiment is really a market research exercise, you could also split this into many experiments, e.g. for each marketing medium – imagine you try and pitch the idea via Facebook, maybe a blog post with Google keywords driving the traffic, etc.

With each effort you would monitor them as separate experiments over short amounts of time as the mindset is to keep things small, simple and fast.

Your thoughts are most welcome, this blog post is almost an experiment in it’s self; so any feedback is most welcome.

Start with Why – my notes

July 21, 2016

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it – just keep this mantra in mind and you have the jist!

You can find the TED talk here:

This is a really good book, and certainly makes you think about things from another angle. Dare I write it and say I found some of it was a little Utopian, if only things could be how Simon says and I would love it if it was more so. Saying that, what he describes is so powerful and educated me to reword both my ideas and how I question / think about other ideas.

Further to this, I feel a collaboration between the lean startup and this book would give you some amazing results. The one thing that concerned me about Start With Why was the reinforcing of the guru, the HIPPO, the most important person’s opinion. There is certainly a need for this right at the beginning, however surely not everything these people say is going to be right all of the time, hence I feel the collaboration between the Lean Startup and the ideas in this book would take you a long way. The WHY and ideas are generated by your CEO AND you have the platform to test these ideas, feedback on the success or failures and iterate from there.

Below are my notes from each chapter.

Part 1 – A world that doesn’t start with Why

Assume you know

Carrots and Sticks

Part 2 – An alternative perspective

The golden circle

This is not Opinion, this is biology

Part 3 – Leaders need a following

The emergence of trust

How a tipping point tips

Part 4 – How to rally those who

Start with Why, but know How

Know Why, know How, then What?

Communication is about not speaking, it is about listening

Part 5 – The biggest challenge is success

When Why GOES fuzzy

Split happens

Part 6 – Discover Why

The origins of why

The new competition


Part 1 – A world that doesn’t start with Why


Assume you know


No notes

Carrots and Sticks


Most companies have no clue why their customers are their customers


If companies don’t know why their customers are their customers, odds are good that they don’t know why their employees are their employees either.


There are only two ways to influence human behaviour: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.


When companies or organisations do not have a clear sense of why their customers are their customers, they tend to rely on a disproportionate number of manipulations to get what they need.


Price always cost something. The question is, how much are you willing to pay for the money you make?


Breakage measures the percentage of customers who fail to take advantage of a promotion and end up paying full price for a product instead.


The rebate industry also has a name for the number of customers who just don’t bother to apply for the rebate, or who never cash the rebate check they receive. That’s called slippage.


A rebate lures the customer to pay full price for a product that they may have considered buying only because of the prospect of a partial refund. But nearly 40% of those customers never get the lower price they thought they were paying. Call it a tax on the disorganised, but retailers rely on it.


Companies managers were always drawn to the quicker, cheaper option over the better long term solution. Just like the habitual dieter, “they never have the time or money to do it right the first time”, “but they always have the time and money to do it again”.


How can a company claim to be customer focused when they are so comfortable measuring the number of customers who will fail to realise any promise of savings?


Knowing you have a loyal customer and employee base not only reduces costs, it provides massive peace of mind.


Part 2 – An alternative perspective


The golden circle


WHAT: Every single company and organisation on the planet knows WHAT they do.


HOW: Some companies and people know HOW they do WHAT they do.


HOWs are often given to explain how something is different or better. Not as obvious as WHATs, many think these are the differentiating or motivating factors in a decision.


WHY: Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. When I say WHY, I don’t mean to make money-that is a result. By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief? WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed in the morning? And WHY Should anyone care?


When most organisations or people think, act or communicate they do so from the outside in, from WHAT to WHY. We rarely say WHY we do WHAT we do.


Apple’s message starts with WHY, a purpose, cause or belief that has nothing to do with WHAT they do. WHAT they do – the products they make, from computers to small electronics – no longer serves as the reason to buy, they serve as the tangible proof of their cause.


People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.


Companies try to sell us WHAT they do, but we buy WHY they do it. This is what I mean when I say they communicate from the outside in; they lead with WHAT and HOW.


WHAT companies do are external factors, but WHY they do it is something deeper.


People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.


Creative advertised their product as a “5GB mp3 player” It is exactly the same message as Apple’s “1000 songs in your pocket” The difference is Creative told WHAT their product was and Apple told us WHY we needed it.


When an organization defines itself by WHAT it does, that’s all it will ever be able to do.


Knowing WHY is essential for lasting success and the ability to avoid being lumped in with others.


Any company faced with the challenge of how to differentiate themselves in their market is basically a commodity, regardless of WHAT they do or HOW they do it.


Only companies that act like commodities are the ones who wake up every day with the challenge of how to differentiate. Companies and organisations with a clear sense of WHY never worry about it. They don’t think themselves as being like anyone else and they don’t have to “convince” anyone of their value.


They are different, and everyone knows it. They start with WHY in everything they say and do.


No matter how clear your WHY, if WHAT you sell doesn’t work, the whole thing falls flat.


And that’s one of the primary reasons why so many companies feel the need to differentiate in the first place – based on the flawed assumption that only one group can be right. But what if both parties were right? What if an Apple was right for some people and a PC was right for others?


Before the discussion can ever happen, the WHYs for each must be established first.


Good quality and features matter, but they are not enough to produce the dogged loyalty that all the most inspiring leaders and companies are able to command. It is the cause that is represented by the company, brand, product or person that inspires loyalty.


Knowing your WHY is not the only way to be successful, but it is the only way to maintain a lasting success and have a greater blend of innovation and flexibility. When a WHY goes fuzzy, it becomes much more difficult to maintain the growth, loyalty and inspiration that helped drive the original success.


The question to be asked must be:

WHY did we start doing WHAT we’re doing in the first place, and WHAT can we do to bring our cause to life considering all the technologies and market opportunities available today?


This is not Opinion, this is biology


When a company clearly communicates their WHY, what they believe, and we believe what they believe, then we will sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to include those products or brands in our lives. This is not because they are better, but because they become markers or symbols of the values and beliefs we hold dear.


We are drawn to leaders and organisations that are good at communicating what they believe. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us. Those whom, we consider great leaders all have an ability to draw us close and to command our loyalty. And we feel a strong bond with those who are also drawn to the saem leaders and organisations.


Our limbic brain is powerful, powerful enough to drive behaviour that sometimes contradicts our rational and analytical understanding of a situation. We often trust our gut even if the decision flies in the face of all the facts and figures.


Companies that fail to communicate a sense of WHY force us to make decisions with only empirical evidence.


People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.


There is evidence that sales don’t significantly increase and bonds of loyalty are not formed simply when companies say or do everything their customers want.


When the computer revolution was afoot, computer users couldn’t ask for a graphical user interface, but that is what Apple gave us.


Great leaders are those who trust their gut.They are those who understand the art before the science. They win hearts before minds. They are the ones who start with WHY.


Our biology complicates our ability to verbalise the real reasons why we make the decisions we do, we rationalise based on more tangible factors, like the design or the service or the brand. This is the basis for the false assumption that price or features matter more than they do. Those things matter, they provide us the tangible things we can point to to rationalize our decision-=making, but they don’t set the course and they don’t inspire behaviour.


The makers of laundry detergent asked consumers WHAT they wanted from detergent, and consumers said whites whites and brighter brights.


No one asked customers WHY they wanted their clothes clean.


When people took their washing out of the dryer, no one held it up to the light to see how white it was or compared it to newer items to see how bright it was. The first thing people did when they pulled their laundry out of the dryer was to smell it.


Feeling clean was more important to people than being clean.


Cell phone companies believed people wanted more options and buttons until Apple introduced its iPhone with fewer options and only one button.


German automakers believed their engineering alone matter to American car buyers.


One by one, the German luxury car makers begrudgingly added cup holders to their fine automobiles.


Even for rationally minded car buyers, there is more to decision-making than meets the eye.


It we were all rational, there would be no small businesses, there would be no exploration, there would be very little innovation and there would be no great leaders to inspire all those things. It is the undying belief in something bigger and better that drives that kind of behaviour.


If people made only rational decisions, and did all the research before making a purchase, no one would ever buy a Mac.


HP and Dell have a fuzzy sense of WHY, so their products and their brands don’t symbolise anything about the users.


For the longest time, the logo on the lid of a Dell computer faced the user so when they opened it, it would be upside down for everyone else.


Product with a clear sense of WHY give people a way to tell the outside world who they are and what they believe.


If a company does not have a clear sense of WHY then it is impossible for the outside world to perceive anything more than WHAT the company does. And when that happens, manipulations that rely on pushing price, features, service or quality become the primary currency of differentiation.


Clarity, Discipline and consistency


It requires those who believe in something bigger than a single issue. To inspire starts with the clarity of WHY.


Once you know WHY you do what you do, the question is HOW will you do it? HOWs are your values or principles that guide HOW to bring your causes to life.


For values or guiding principles to be truly effective they have to be verbs. It’s not “integrity”, it’s “always do the right thing”. It’s not “innovation” it’s “look at the problem from a different angle”. Articulating our values as verbs gives us a clear idea…. We have a clear idea of how to act in any situation.


The inherent nature of doing things for the long term often includes investments or short-term costs. This is the reason the discipline to stay focused on the WHY and remain true to your values matters so much.


A WHY is just a belief. That’s all it is. HOWs are the aCTIONS YOU TAKE TO REALISE THAT BELIEF. And WHATs are the results of those actions – everything you say or do.


The only way people will know what you believe is by the things you say and do, and if you’re not consistent in the things you say and do, no one will know what you believe.


What authenticity means is that everything you say and everything you do you actually believe.


Just producing high-quality products and marketing them does not guarantee success. Authenticity cannot be achieved without clarity of WHY. And authenticity matters.


Authenticity is when you say and do the things you actually believe. But if you don’t know WHY the organisation or the product exist on level beyond WHAT you do, then it is impossible to know if the things you say or do are consistent with your WHY. Without WHY, any attempt at authenticity will almost always be inauthentic.


The WHY provides the context for everything else.


Starting with WHY has a profound and long-lasting impact on the result. Starting with WHY is what inspires people to act.


Those who believed what Southwest airlines believed became fiercely loyal to the company.


Simply offering a high-quality product with more features or better service or a better price does not create difference. Differentiation happens in WHY and HOW you do it.


When we are inspired, the decisions we make have more to do with who we are and less to do with the companies or the products we’re buying.


When our decisions feel right, we’re willing to pay a premium or suffer an inconvenience for those products or services.


Without a strong base of loyal followers, the pressure increases to manipulate – to compete or “differentiate” based on price, quality, service, or features. Loyalty, real emotional value, exists in the brain of the buyer, not the seller.


The human animal is a social animal. We’re very good at sensing subtleties in behaviour and judging people accordingly. We get good feelings and bad feelings about companies, just as we get good feelings and feelings about people.


If the levels of the Golden Circle are in balance, all those who share the organisations view of the world will be drawn to it and its products like a moth to a light bulb.


WHATs don’t drive decision making, WHAT’s should be used as proof of WHY.


It is exceedingly difficult to start building a trusting relationship with a potential customer or client by trying to convince them of all the rational features and benefits.


WHAT you do serves as the tangible proof of WHY you do it. Unless you start with WHY, all people have to go on are the rational benefits.


The gut decision can only be made by a single person. It’s a perfectly good strategy for an individual or a small organisation, but what happens when success necessitates that more people be able to make decisions that feel right.


The ability to put a WHY into words provides the emotional context for decisions.


The rational WHATs offer proof for the feeling of WHY.


If you can clearly state your WHY, you’ll provide a clear context for those around you to understand why that decision was made.


The goal of business should not be to do business with anyone who simply wants what you have. It should be to focus on the people who believe what you believe. When we are selective about doing business only with those who believe in our WHY, trust emerges.

Part 3 – Leaders need a following


The emergence of trust


Trust does not emerge simply because a seller makes a rational case why the customer should buy a product or service, or because an executive promises change. Trust is not a checklist. Fulfilling all your responsibilities does not create trust. Trust is a feeling, not a rational experience. We trust some people and companies even when things goes wrong, and we don’t trust others even though everything might have gone exactly as it should have. A completed checklist does not guarantee trust. Trust begins to emerge when we have a sense that another person or organisation is driven by things other than their own self-gain.


You can’t convince someone you have value, just as you can’t convince someone to trust you. You have to earn trust by communicating and demonstrating that you share the same values and beliefs. You have to talk about your WHY and prove it with WHAT you do.


A WHY is just a belief, HOWs are the actions we take to realise that belief, WHATs are the result of those actions. When all three are in balance, trust is built and value is perceived.


Great leadership is not based solely on great operational ability.


Leading means that others willingly follow you – not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to.


Those who lead are able to do so because those who follow trust that the decisions made at the top have the best interest of the group at heart.


Those who trust work hard because they feel like they are working for something bigger than themselves.


No one likes to lose, and most healthy people live their life to win. The only variation is the score we use. For some it’s money, others it’s fame or awards. For some it is power, love, a family, or spiritual fulfillment.


Problems arise when the metric becomes the only measure of success, when what you achieve is no longer tied to WHY you set out to achieve it in the first place.


“We measured things the employees could truly control”, “We made the stakes something the employees would win or lose on together, not separately”


A company is a culture. A group of people brought together around a common set of values and beliefs.


It’s not size and might that make a company strong, it’s the culture.

So the logic follows, the goal is not to hire people who simply have a skill set you need, the goal is to hire people who what you believe.


When employees belong, they will guarantee your success.


The goal is to hire those who are passionate for your WHY, your purpose, cause or belief, and who have the attitude that fits your culture.


Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left.


Come to work to be a part of something bigger than the job he’s doing. Simply having a sense of WHY changes his entire view of his job.


Camaraderie and trust is what brings success. People working together for a common cause.


The most innovative organisations give their people something to work towards.


The role of a leader is not to come up with all the great ideas. The role of a leader is to create an environment in which great ideas can happen.


An idea with the potential to change the course of an industry….


Great companies give their people a purpose or challenge around which to develop ideas rather than simply instruct them to make a better mouse-trap.


Companies with a clear sense of WHY tend to ignore their competition, whereas those with a fuzzy sense of WHY are obsessed with what others are doing.


For those within a community, or an organisation, they must trust that their leaders provide a net – practical or emotional. With that feeling of support, those in the organisation are more likely to put in extra effort that ultimately benefits the group as a whole.


Great organisation become great because the people inside the organisation feel protected.


The trust between the management and the employees, not dogma, is what produces the great customer service.


Great leaders lead with WHY. They embody a sense of purpose that inspires those around them.


Earning the trust of an organisation doesn’t come from setting out to impress everyone, it comes from setting out to serve those who serve her. It is the invisible trust that gives a leader the following they need to get things done.


A company, indeed any organisation, must work actively to remind everyone WHY the company exists. WHY it was founded in the first place. What it believes.


Passion comes from feeling like you are a part of something that you believe in, something bigger than yourself.


Without managed trust, people will show up to do their jobs and they will worry primarily about themselves. This is the root of office politics – people acting within the system for self-gain often at the expense of others, even the company. If a company doesn’t manage trust, then those working for it will not trust the company, and self-interest becomes the overwhelming motivation.


Why should anyone trust you?

How a tipping point tips


When you ask a small business about their goals, many of them will tell you they want to be a billion-dollar business in X number of years. The odds of that happening, unfortunately, don’t look good. Of the 27 million businesses registered in the United STates, fewer than 2,000 ever reach a billion dollars in annual revenues. And 99.9 percent of all businesses in America have fewer than 500 employees. In other words, mass-market success is really hard to achieve.


The best does not always win. Like any natural law, the Law of Diffusion must be considered if mass-market acceptance is important to you. Refusal to do so will cost a lot of money and may result in a mediocre success, if not complete failure.


Loyalty is when people are willing to suffer some inconvenience or pay a premium to do business with you.


The goal of business to find people who believe what you believe.


They are the ones who, on their own volition, will tell others about you.


It is the percentage of people who share your beliefs and want to incorporate your ideas, your products and your services into their own lives as WHAT’s to their own WHYs.


Their ability to easily see WHY they need to incorporate your products into their lives makes this group the most loyal customers.


If you have the discipline to focus on the early adopters, the majority will come along eventually, it must start with WHY.


The WHY is the belief that drives the decision, and WHAT it does provides us a way to rationalise the appeal of the product.


People often go out of their way, pay a premium or suffer an inconvenience to buy a product that resonates on a visceral level with them.


It is those who share your values and beliefs, not the quality of your products, that will cause the system to tip. Your role in the process is to be crystal clear about what purpose, cause or belief you exist to champion, and to show how your products and services help advance that cause.


Defeat is painful. And the ability to continue head-on, day after day, takes something more than knowing what legislation needs to be passed.


Part 4 – How to rally those who


Start with Why, but know How


Energy excites, Charisma Inspires.


All great leaders have charisma because all great leaders have clarity of WHY; an undying belief in a purpose or cause bigger than themselves.


Charisma has nothing to do with energy; it comes from a clarity of WHY. It comes from absolute conviction in an ideal bigger than oneself.


Energy can excite. But only charisma can inspire. Charisma commands loyalty. Energy does not.


Loyalty among employees is when they turn down more money or benefits to continue working at the same company.


It’s not the work we do that inspires us either. It’s the cause we come to work for. We don’t want to come to work to build a wall, we want to come to work to build a cathedral.


Regardless of WHAT we do in our lives, our WHY — our driving purpose, cause or belief – never changes. WHAT we do is simply the tangible way we find to breathe life into that cause.


When a WHY is clear, those who share that belief will be drawn to it and maybe want to take part in bringing it to life.


With a group of believers all rallying around a common purpose, cause or belief, amazing things can happen.


WHY is just a belief, HOW’s are the actions we take to realise that belief and WHATs are the results of those actions.


The HOW level represents a person or a small group responsible for building the infrastructure that can make a WHY tangible.


At the WHAT level, is where the rubber meets the road. It is at this level that the majority of the employees sit and where all the tangible stuff actually happens.


For every great leader, for every WHY-type, there is an inspired HOW-type or group of HOW-types who take the intangible cause and build the infrastructure that can give it life.


The leader imagines the destination and the HOW-types find the route to get there. A destination without a route leads to meandering and inefficiency, something a great many WHY-types will experience without the help of others to ground them.


It’s the optimists who change the world.


WHY-types have the power to change the course of industries or even the world… if only they knew HOW.


HOW-types live more in the here and now. They are the realists and have a clearer sense of all things practical. WHY-types are focused on the things most people can’t see, like the future. HOW-types are focused on things most people can see and tend to be better at building structures and processes and getting things done. One is not better than the other.


Most people in the world are HOW-types.


WHY-guys, for all their vision and imagination, often get the short end of the stick. Without someone inspired by their vision and the knowledge to make it a reality, most WHY-types end up as starving visionaries, people with all the answers but never accomplishing much themselves.


In reality most successful entrepreneurs are HOW-types.


It is the HOW-types who are more adept at building those processes and systems.


To reach the billion-dollar status, to alter the source of an industry, requires a very special and rare partnership between one who knows WHY  and those who know HOW.


The vision is the public statement of the founder’s intent, WHY the company exists. It is literally the vision of a future that does not yet exist. The mission statement is a description of the route, the guiding principles – HOW the company intends to create that future. When both those things are stated clearly, the WHY-type and the HOW-type are both certain about their roles in the partnership.


The most trusting relationship that exists is between the visionary and the builder, the WHY-guy and the HOW-guy. In organisations able to inspire, the best chief executives are WHY-types – people who wake up every day to lead a cause and not just run a company. In these organisations, the best chief financial officers and chief operating officers are high-performing HOW-types, those with strength of ego to admit they are not visionaries themselves but are inspired by the leader’s vision and know how to build the structure that can bring it to life. The best HOW-types generally do not want to be out front preaching the vision; they prefer to work behind the scenes to build the systems that can make the vision a reality. It takes the combined skill and effort of both for great things to happen.


Great organisations function exactly like any social movement. They inspire people to talk about a product or idea, include that product in the context of their lifestyle, share the idea or even find ways to advance the prosperity of the organisation itself. Great organisations inspire people to take part in helping to advance the cause without needing to pay them or incentivize them in any particular way.


Money can pay to keep a message front and centre. And publicity stunts are good at getting on the news. But neither plants seeds of loyalty.


For a message to have real impact, to affect behaviour and seed loyalty, it needs more than publicity. It needs to publicise some higher purpose, cause or belief to which those with similar values and beliefs can relate.


Though there may be short-term benefits without clarity, loud is nothing more than excessive volume.


A leader with a cause must have a megaphone through which to deliver his message. It must be clear and loud to work. Clarity of purpose, cause or belief is important, but it is equally important that people hear you. For a WHY to have the power to move people it must not only be clear, it must be amplified to reach enough people to tip the scale.


Great organisations don’t just drive profits, they lead people, and they change the course of industries and sometimes our lives in the process.


Higher standards are hard to maintain. It requires the discipline to constantly talk about and remind everyone WHY the organisation exists in the first place. It requires that requires that everyone in the organisation be held accountable to HOW you do things – to your values and guiding principles. It takes time and effort to ensure that everything you say and do is consistent with your WHY.


Don’t assume you know how things work simply based on what you see.


There is always another perspective to be considered.


If you can simply show someone that an alternative route is possible, it can open the possibility that such a route can be followed.


Success is a team sport!



Know Why, know How, then What?


A WHY never changes. WHAT you do can change with times, but WHY you do it never does.

Communication is about not speaking, it is about listening


If WHAT you do doesn’t prove what you believe, then no one will know what your WHY is and you’ll be forced to compete on price, service, quality, features and benefits; the stuff of commodities.


It is not just WHAT or HOW you do things that matters; what matters more is that WHAT and HOW you do things is consistent with your WHY.


What you do is supposed serve as the tangible proof of what you believe.


Starting with WHY not only helps you know which is the right advice for you to follow, but also to know which decisions will put you out of balance.


If a company tries too many times to “seize market opportunities” inconsistent with their WHY over time, their WHY will go fuzzy and their ability to inspire and command loyalty will deteriorate.


What companies say and do matters. A lot. It is at the WHAT level that a cause is brought to life. It is at this level that a company speaks to the outside world and it is then that we can learn what the company believes.


Part 5 – The biggest challenge is success


When Why GOES fuzzy




Those with an ability to never lose sight of WHY, no matter how little or how much they achieve, can inspire us.Those with the ability to never lose sight of WHY and also achieve the milestones that keep everyone focused in the right direction are the great leaders. For great leaders, The Golden Circle is in balance. They are in pursuit of WHY, they hold themselves accountable to HOW they do it and WHAT they do serves as the tangible proof of what they believe.


Split happens


At the beginning, ideas are fueled by passion. That passion drives many people to make sacrifices so that a cause bigger than themselves can be brought to life.


Inspired by the founders vision, many early employees demonstrate classic early-adopter behavior. Relying on their gut, these first employees also quit their perfectly good jobs and accept lower salaries to join an organisation with a 90 percent statistical chance of failing.


The reason so many small businesses fail, however, is because passion alone can’t cut it. For passion to survive, it needs structure. A WHY without the HOWs, passion without structure, has a very high probability of failure.


Passion may need structure to survive, but for structure to grow, it needs passion.


When the company is small, the founder will rely on his gut to make all the major decisions.


It is inherently simple to measure that growth of WHAT an organisation does. WHAT’s, after all, are tangible and easy to count.


When organisations are small, WHAT they do and WHY they do it are in close parallel. Born out of the personality of the founder, it is relatively easy for early employees to “get it”.


The school bus test is a simple metaphor. If a founder or leader of an organisation were to be hit by a school bus, would the organisation continue to thrive at the same pace without them at the helm?


The challenge isn’t to cling to the leader, it’s to find effective ways to keep the founding vision alive forever.


For an organisation to continue to inspire and lead beyond the lifetime of its founder, the founder’s WHY must be extracted and integrated into the culture of the company.


Future leaders and employees alike must be inspired by something bigger than the force of personality of the founder and must see beyond profit and shareholder value alone.


What get measured, gets done!


Find a way to measure WHY


Bonuses were not given for the amount of money was collected; they were given on how many “thank you” cards agents sent out (based on the time they spent on the phone talking)


Measuring WHY a company exists, not WHAT they did, and the result was a culture in which compassion was valued above all.


Harbridge’s business succeeded not just because she knew WHY she was doing what she was doing, but because she found a way to measure the WHY. The company’s growth was loud and her cause was clear. She started with WHY and the rest followed.


At Honore Construction, everyone is required to clock in and clock out. They must clock in between 8:00-8:30 and out by 5:00-5:30. Stay any laters and they are taken out of the bonus pool. Because employees know they have to leave by 5:30, wasted time is dropped to a minimum. Productivity is high and turnover is low.


Consider how much you get done the day before you on vacation. Now imagine every day like that.


Because people perceived greater value from the name-brand rackets and felt fine paying a premium for that feeling…


Value is a perception, not a calculation, which is the reason companies make such a big deal about investing in the brand. But a strong brand, like all other intangible factors that contribute to the perception of value, starts with a clear sense of WHY.


If those outside the megaphone share your WHY and if you are able to clearly communicate that belief in everything you say and do, trust emerges and value is perceived. When that happens, loyal buyers will always rationalise the premium they pay or the inconvenience they suffer to get that feeling.


The feeling they get comes completely from inside them. When people can point to a company and clearly articulate what the company believes and use words unrelated to price, quality, service and features.


When people describe the value they perceive with visceral, excited words like “love”, that is a sure sign that a clear sense of WHY exists.


The succession plan that will work is to find a CEO who believes in and wants to continue to lead a movement. Successful succession is more than selecting someone with an appropriate skill set – it’s about finding someone who is in lockstep with the original cause around which the company was founded. Great second or third CEOs don’t take the helm to implement their own vision of the future; they pick up the original banner and lead the company into the next generation. That’s why we call it succession and not replacement. These is a continuity of vision.


Look after other people and people will look after you.


Money is never a cause, it is always a result.


When people know WHY you do WHAT you do, they are willing to give you credit for everything that could serve as proof of WHY. When they are unclear about your WHY, WHAT you do has no context.



Part 6 – Discover Why


The origins of why


The WHY does not come from looking ahead at what you want to achieve and figuring out an appropriate strategy to get there. It is not born out of any market research. It does not come from extensive interviews with customers or even employees. It comes from looking in the completely opposite direction from where you are now. Finding WHY is a process of discovery, not invention.


Gaining clarity of WHY is not the hard part. It is the discipline to trust one’s gut, to stay true to one’s purpose, cause or beliefs. Remaining completely in balance and authentic is the most difficult part. The few that are able to build a megaphone, and not just a company, around their cause are the ones who earn the ability to inspire. In doing so, they harness a power to move people that few can even imagine.


To inspire people to do the things that inspired them, so that, together, we can change the world!

The new competition


When you compete against yourself, everyone wants to help you. Olympic athletes don’t help each other. They are competitors.


We are always competing against someone else. We’re always trying to be better than someone else. Better quality. More features. Better service. We’re always comparing ourselves to others. And no one wants us to help. What if we showed up to work every day simply to be better than ourselves? What it the goal was to do better work this week than we did the week before? To make this month better than last month? For no other reason than because we want to leave the organisation in a better state than we found it?


Why should I do business with you?


Because the work we’re doing now is better than the work we were doing six months ago. And the work we’ll be doing in six months from now will be better than the work we’re doing today.

Because we wake up every day with a sense of WHY we come to work. We come to work to inspire people to do the things that inspire them.


Are we better than our competition?


If you believe what we believe and you believe that the things we do can help you, then we’re not better. Our goal is to find customers who believe what we believe and work together so that we can all succeed.


We’re looking for people to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us in pursuit of the same goal. We’re not interested in sitting across a table from each other in pursuit of a sweeter deal.


Organisations should start with WHY, and then lead into HOW and WHAT!

The Lean Startup Introduction notes

June 23, 2016

These are my notes on this chapter from the book The Lean Startup. My original post is here.

This chapter sees Eric talking to his experience and how the Lean Start Up came about, driven by the desire of building a sustainable business rather than another start up that fails. He then outlines the principles of the Lean Start up Method:

  • Entrepreneurs are everywhere – Lean Start up approach can work in any size company, even a large enterprise, in any sector or industry.
  • Entrepreneurship is management – Start up is an institution and it requires a new kind of management specifically geared to its context of extreme uncertainty.
  • Validated learning – Learning which is validated scientifically by running frequent experiments allowing you to test each element.
  • Build-Measure-Learn – The fundamental activity of a start up is to turn ideas into product, measure how customers respond, and then learn whether to pivot or persevere.
  • Innovation accounting – Need to focus on the boring stuff: how to measure progress, how to set up milestones, and how to prioritise work.

The Lean Startup Epilogue notes

June 23, 2016

These are my notes on this chapter from the book The Lean Startup. My original post is here.

There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all!

It is insufficient to exhort workers to try harder. Our current problems are caused by trying too hard – at wrong things. By focusing on functional efficiency, we lose sight of the real goal of innovation: to learn that which is currently unknown.

The most pressing innovation question: How can we build a sustainable organisation around a new set of product or services?

If we stopped wasting people’s time, what would they do with it? We have no real concept of what is possible.

To be obsessed with learning the truth and not satisfied with folk wisdom of crafts-people or the parables of experts.

How much of our current innovation work is guided by catchphrase that lack a scientific foundation…

There is a need to develop clear methods for holding team accountable for validated learning. Innovation accounting using a well-defined financial model and engine of growth.

The Lean Start up must avoid doctrines and rigid ideology. We must avoid the caricature that science means formula or a lack of humanity in work. Science is one of humanity’s most creative pursuits.

Everyone would insist that assumptions be stated explicitly and tested rigorously not as a stalling tactic or a form of make-work but one of a genuine desire to discover the truth that underlies every projects vision.

We must not waste time on endless arguments between the defenders of quality and the cowboys of reckless advance; recognise that speed and quality are allies in the pursuit of the customer’s long-term benefit. Race to test the vision, look to eliminate waste not to build quality castles in the sky but in the service of agility and breakthrough business results.

Respond to failures and setbacks with honesty and learning.

Shun the impulse to slow down, increase the batch size, and indulge in the curse of prevention.

Achieve speed by bypassing the excess work that does not lead to learning.

Dedicate ourselves to the creation of new institution with a long-term mission to build sustainable value and change the world for the better.

Stop wasting People’s time!

Reading is good, action is better!

The Lean Startup Innovate notes

June 23, 2016

These are my notes on this chapter from the book The Lean Startup. My original post is here.

When companies become larger they inevitably lose the capacity for innovation, creativity and growth.

Start up teams require three structural attributes: scarce but secure resources, independent authority to develop their business, and a personal stake in the outcome.

Start up’s are both easier and more demanding to run than traditional divisions: they require much less capital overall, but that capital must be absolutely secure from tampering.

Start up teams need complete autonomy to develop and market new products within their limited mandate. They have to be able to conceive and execute experiments without having to gain an excessive number of approvals.

Start up teams have to be able to build and ship actual functioning products and service, not just prototypes. Handoffs and approvals slow down the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop and inhibit both learning and accountability.

The imperative to innovate is unrelenting. Without the ability to experiment in a more agile manner, this company eventually would suffer the fate described in The Innovator’s Dilemma: ever-higher profits and margins year after year until the business suddenly collapsed.

Do not hide the innovation team. People defend themselves when they feel threatened, and no innovation can flourish if defensiveness is given free rein. The common suggestion to hide the innovation team is misguided. Hiding from the parent organisation (a start up within a large org) can have long-term negative consequences.

To empower innovation out in to the open, create a sandbox for innovation that will contain the impact of the new innovation but not constrain the methods of the start up team.

Any team can create a true split-test experiment that affects only the sandboxes parts of the product or service (for a multipart product) or only certain customer segments or territories (for a new product). However:

  1. One team must see the whole experiment through from end to end
  2. No experiment can run longer than a specified amount of time
  3. No experiment can affect more than a specified number of customers
  4. Every experiment has to be evaluated on the basis of a single standard report of five to ten actionable metrics
  5. Every team that works inside the sandbox and every product that is built must use the same metrics to evaluate success
  6. Any team that creates an experiment must monitor the metrics and customer reactions (support calls, social media reaction, forum threads, etc.) while the experiment is in progress and abort it if something catastrophic happens.
Whenever possible, the innovation team should be cross-functional and have a clear team leader. It should be empowered to build, market, and deploy products and features in the sandbox without prior approval. It should be required to report on the success or failure of those efforts by using standard actionable metrics and innovation accounting.
True Experiments are easy to classify as successes or failures because top-level metrics either move or they don’t.
If someone wants to sabotage the innovation team, he or she will have to learn all about actionable metrics and learning milestones to do it.
When people have a chance to see a project through from end to end and the work is done in small batches and delivers a clear verdict quickly, they benefit from the power of feedback. Each time they fail to move the numbers, they have a real opportunity to act on their findings immediately. Thus, these teams tend to converge on optimal solutions rapidly even if they start out with really bad ideas.
By making the batch size small, the sandbox method allows teams to make cheap mistakes quickly and start learning.
A common practice is for the inventor of a new product or feature to manage the subsequent resources, team, or division that ultimately commercialises it. As a result, strong creative managers wind up getting stuck working on the growth and optimisation of products rather than creating new ones.
The way out of this dilemma is to manage the four kinds of work differently, allowing strong cross-functional team to develop around each area. When products move from phase to phase, they are handed off between teams. Employees can choose to move with the product as part of the handoff or stay behind and begin work on something new.
People should be allowed to find the kind of jobs that suit them best.
Push for rapid iteration, data-driven decision making, and early customer involvement.
Responding dogmatically is unhelpful, compromising by automatically splitting the difference does not work either.
Every suggestion should be subjected to rigorous scientific inquiry:
  • Can we use the theory to predict the results of the proposed change?
  • Can we incubate the change in a small team and see what happens?
  • Can we measure its impact?

You have to be able to predict the outcome of the changes you make to tell if the problems that result are really problems.

Force teams to work cross-functionally to achieve validated learning. Techniques for doing this – actionable metrics, continuous deployment, and the overall Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop.

It does not matter how fast we can build, it does not matter how fast we can measure.

What matters is how fast we can get through the entire loop