Monday, April 23, 2012

Lean Launch Pad! (What Do Business Model Generation & Lean Startup Have in Common with Social Media??)

What Do Business Model Generation and Lean Startup Have in Common with Social Media??

Ever notice how many 'experts' there are for social media? Who, well, aren't? It is easy to get excited about something that has great power and it's all too easy to fall into the trap of confusing passion with expertise. (I know that *I* have been guilty of this myself! LOL)

I got to talk about Lean Startup and Biz Model Generation while in Twente to a mix of people who have already found it useful and those for whom it was brand-new. Great to see them help each other. What fun! 

At the end of the month, I'll probably teach people about it in Germany. Hell, I seem to be teaching it almost weekly. (Maybe someday I can figure out how to get paid for it? LOL At least I'm getting pretty good at it...)

But in the meantime... if you need someone to coach people at this, just holler!

And... I assume you've heard of Steve Blank. If not, promise me that you'll spend an hour or so at (and even if you have!) Steve has created a terrific course on this at Stanford and now the NSF is using it to commercialize the 100 most promising technologies that they funded (see ""Innovation Corps"). It's a blended delivery model but before long all the classes will be fully available online... for free!

The great folks at Startup Weekend have raised the ante even further - they are encouraging local meetups to take Steve's online course and make it into a blended course. They asked (ordered? LOL) me to do this in Idaho. (If you're not in Idaho, I can help you find your own local meetup.) I've mentioned this before but I really want to see this become something exciting, valuable and fun! 

"Entrepreneurship 101"
So shall ww raise the ante even further? If people are interested in getting together to share their progress in the Lean Launchpad course... or just want to get better at entrepreneuring... let's set up a weekly class "Entrepreneurship 101". There's a pretty good model for it we can steal, so if you have any interest in doing this.. .learning? teaching? (heckling?).. let me know!

When the Lean Launchpad online course gets finalized, I'll be bugging everyone so you might as well sign on now ;)

And what topics should "Entrepreneur 101" start with??? What are YOU curious about?

Entrepreneur IS a verb, eh?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Update re "Dissidents"

Update re "Dissidents"

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your feedback! I'm glad that so many felt so strongly that we need to focus on the human element. AND that that was very much a positive, "good news" post.

If we want to turn ideas into reality, it's people with the right mindset. (And that mindset isn't easy to acquire; it's far more than skills and knowledge, it's a different way of looking at the world. Would you hire someone to be a great educator when they aren't already en route? Would you hire some to be a great researcher when they have shown no signs so far? Community connectors are no different.)

Bad News: Yes, it's true that most institutions, most bureaucracies are beyond awful at turning ideas into reality (e.g., tech commercialization) -don't be offended, just fix it. Become one of The Best!

Good News: Yes, only a handful of schools/labs/companies/etc. are rock stars at this -that makes the payoff even larger.

Really Good News: We are seeing that if you shift the mindset of an organization or community, results follow. (And if you read my blog, you'll know that the keys to mindset shift are KNOWN. Politically painful, perhaps, but known.

And now I'm getting inquiries about doing research to measure that mindset. so, thanks to you all for encouraging me. One project that could be really fun is to identify the critical competencies for technology commercialization. What if somebody wanted to create a formal certification for tech commercialization (eg, for tech transfer)? The testing and training would be based on critical competencies for success.

Should be a blast!

But I *will* need your help...
--> What DO you have to know to take ideas to reality? (at different lifecycle stages?)
--> What SKILLS are needed?
--> What deep beliefs anchor the expert mindset for technology commercialization??


Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, April 08, 2012

"Dissidents from the Ivory Tower"??

Happy Easter from Enschede! 

I'm here to visit the University of Twente and its great tech commercialization accelerator, VentureLab, along with some fun research stuff - including serving on a PhD dissertation defense (fancy robes and all!)

And it's the topic of that dissertation by Kristina Dervojeda[1] that should excite you. We already knew this but once again... we see a most important truth.

Title? "Dissidents in the Ivory Tower"...or... do we get faculty increasingly connected to industry? 'Dissidents"should be one BIG clue ;) It is the rare university where getting deeply immersed with the community (let alone industry) is a social norm - probably not 20 universities worldwide who manage to do it & do it effectively.

Why Does This Matter?
PCAST, the President's Council of Advisers for Science & Technology, is charged with identifying critical success factors for tech-based development, especially technology commercialization. Their prescriptions, regardless of party, would not contradict anything here. #1 = getting a LOT better at turning ideas into reality is the only way to grow an economy; #2 = high levels of individual[fn] interactions across boundaries matter enormously.

So how CAN a school do this? 
The second clue is "immersion". Those great programs have faculty and administrators (and students) deeply immersed in the community. (Not "engaged" but really, really immersed.)

Moreover (and even more important): the community is equally immersed in the university. This goes against social norms for universities. But those happy few are reaping disproportionate rewards.

It's PEOPLE, dammit!
What Kristina found is that there are identifiable triggers that nudge faculty toward connecting with industry, the trigger effect was weak in comparison to existing conditions. Connecting is a function of (a) people *already* connecting extensively, (b) strong pre-existing social capital and (c) real expertise at a global/national level.

ALREADY immersed. ALREADY connected. Motivated INtrinsically.

So... if you want to increase university connections with industry... productive connections, we have a few crystal-clear criteria.

1) Hire faculty (& administrators) who are already immersed deeply 
If they weren't doing it Day One without being asked or pushed or bribed... they won't be effective. Universities should not try to get people to do this via money, threats, orders or Grand Strategy. Yikes! No, go hire faculty who are already out there. You may not have much competition ;)

1') Corollary: Grand Strategy doesn't work anyway. You want to grow a community, ask the community members. As convenient as it is, don't just bring together the institutions and the power players until you figure out how to best help the innovators.

2) Hire those with broad, deep social capital 
Why wouldn't you want people who are already well-connected globally? Why wouldn't you want to hire people who are already great connectors [google "liaison-animateur"]?

3) Hire those with big-time expertise 
And being the best at something in Boise or Idaho or whatever simply will not cut it. Maybe someone with great potential is out there, but he or she is very unlikely to live up to that potential without #1 and #2 above.

Note: This fits perfectly with all the evidence on what differentiates the handful of universities that kick butt in technology commercialization. Immersion is essential. Pre-existing immersion, pre-existing social capital, pre-existing expertise... all channeled into a bottom-up vision.

Under both GOP & Democratic presidencies, PCAST has found the same conclusions about growing America's tech economy. To them, this deep co-immersion is clearly a blessing. (The right wing and the left wing both championing bottom-up development? Maybe we will get through these tough times! ;)

Selfishly, I'd also note that PCAST (and OSTP and SSTI and Kauffman and other leaders) point out that no great tech commercialization happens without world-class entrepreneurship faculty. You want to be good at tech transfer? Go get some world-class, deeply connected faculty & give 'em the keys. [2]

Ask yourself:  Wouldn't you want faculty, students & administrators who take entrepreneurial & tech development seriously. And would keep doing the right things even if ordered not to?

VentureLab Twente, my hosts [@VentureLabT]
VLT's success has grown as immersion has grown. It is very clear that University of Twente ("The Entrepreneurial University: High Tech & Human Touch") has better-than-average social norms in all of this. They do have killer faculty & grad students who are motivated intrinsically. While Twente has a remarkably entrepreneurial tradition, it's clear that my friends there "get it" but they also looooove what they do. [fn]

These are tough questions for people to ask their schools, their alma maters, their neighbors. It IS rare that we see this happen -and, sadly, for good reason. And these are questions to ask any of your key institutions, including government. (Consider the Startup America Partnership involving the feds. Can you imagine how hard it was to get that to be at least a little bit bottom up? LOL)

Easter and Passover (and the coming of Spring) carry powerful messages that the world is changing, but we need to embrace those changes ourselves. And that resurrection isn't a one-off event but something we must all do daily In our heads. In our hearts. The communities that recognize the lessons that we've just described are the ones that defied the recession and will be the ones leading the way.

So why not.. us

[1] Kristina finished her thesis in <4 years while working as a lead consultant for PwC. She's now a group leader. Total slacker! LOL

[2] And, no, your school probably doesn't have any :(
But you COULD! :)

Labels: , , ,