7 Activities and 27 Actions for the Highly Effective Manager by Dennis Britton

1. Establish teams

  • Hire based on character first
  • Provide team space that encourages collaboration
  • Allow for natural team formation and growth such as Shu Ha Ri and Form/Storm/Norm
  • Provide basic process that facilitates the flow of value like Lean Kanban and Scrum
  • Groom teams and individuals using pairing and just in time training for full-stack, cross-functional, build-anything teams
  • Provide opportunities for teams to manage interdependencies
  • Prevent cherry-picking and poaching by the rest of the organization
  • Establishing working conditions that draw or generate the kind of talent and productivity needed


2. Establish Process and Culture

  • Aim for a balance of creating sustainable teams and delivering customer value
  • Consult with advisors and thought leaders to discover areas of improvement for the greatest impact
  • Support team-informed decisions on standardization of tools, technology and process
  • Host lunch and learns, conferences, workshops and trainings
  • Sponsor newsletters and articles
  • Remind leadership how the competition is using these processes to win in the marketplace


3. Advocate for the team

  • Listen and respond promptly to issues raised in team retrospectives
  • Defend the invaluable assets of sustainable teams and processes when budgets or deadlines threaten


4. Establish Customer Connection

  • Sponsor a Customer Advisory Board
  • Ensure feedback from customers gets the timely attention it deserves


5. Bridge Product Groups, Departments & Specialties

  • Create events and seed cross-functional teams to unify Design (UX), Business (Sales and Marketing) and Engineering (Dev, Quality, Tech Support , IT)
  • Prioritize features and products across programs


6. Align Values with Actions

  • Choose which customers to serve and products to build which best support the company mission


7. Model Servant Leadership

  • Invert the usual command and control methods, listen to the people doing the work about the needs of their work, then decide and act.
  • Provide a safe environment for learning and empirical experimentation
  • Removing impediments to flow of value (and information for that matter)
  • Provide a counter-force to local optimization, reveal the system to itself
  • Allow them semi-autonomy to exercise their own leadership

Catch the Lean Canvas Experience at Agile Camp in San Jose by Dennis Britton

i'll be teaching Lean Canvas at Agile Camp in San Jose this Saturday. The conference looks even better this spring with Keynoters: Luke Hohmann of Conteneo (Serious Games), Ryan Martens of Rally Software and David Anderson of LeanKanban Inc. If you want a chance to get your idea picked, come on time to my session in the fantastic Lean Innovation track, third session at 2pm. Ash Maurya has promised me a discount code for his upcoming 2 day Lean Canvas workshop for every attendee.

Why I teach Lean Canvas by Dennis Britton

I've seen and made lot of business plans. I've read many books on this topic back to the early days of entrepreneurship including the original '1 Page Business Plan. These all fell flat for me. Yawn. In fact I'm not really a fan of plans. They are so inert, So full of promises and assumptions that are bound to fool and fail. I'm reminded of sayings like these: "no plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force." -Prussian von Moltke the Elder and Napoleon: ""I have never had a plan of operations." 

So what's different about the Lean Canvas? Well, nothing, if all you do is fill it out by yourself or with your team. The real power comes from methodically exposing the assumptions revealed by your business plan to the hard test of reality and using that knowledge to enlarge your understanding, rethink your ideas and rebuild your plan. Again and again and again. This moves the 'plan' into 'planning' and action, driving your activities towards vetting every assumption, focusing every idea and cultivating each customer until the product or service you provide is 'Otaku' or irresistible.

Innovation is not about you (unless you are the customer) by Dennis Britton

This excerpt in an interview of Geoffrey Moore inspired me to think about how UX needs to drive every aspect of today's businesses. How much attention does your organization pay to your UX crew? Are they even employees or perhaps it's outsource to an agency? Are they used to 'dress up' you visual  design, as an afterthought? What would happen if they helped determined what fundamental products and services the organization provided from square one? How much interaction with customers do your product managers have? How often is customer research performed? Every 6 months? How much of that research is used? How does your organization know if a product fulfills its purpose for the customer? Unless your customers are fully represented by the people making your product or service you will not know how to fulfill your customer's needs, wants and desires without UX guidance.

ForwardView: Given this new competitive reality, what approaches to innovation should companies be taking today?

Geoffrey Moore: Now when we talk about innovation, we talk about working from the customer back, not from the lab out. Start by putting yourself in the shoes of the end-user of the product or service, spend time with them, figure out what's unsatisfactory or unattractive about the current experience, and then design backward from there to create new innovations. So you actually design back from the market, which means you reduce market risk considerably and you can get things that are more relevant to market faster. The critical idea here, whether you're in entertainment, whether you're in education, whether you're in healthcare, whether you're in financial services, any business that's a service business, is it's not about you. It's really first and foremost about the customer and then really genuinely thinking through the value proposition with the customer. So I think being really aggressive about getting back to the mission of your service organization can be hugely innovative."

Introduction to Discovery Spaces by Dennis Britton

Discovery Spaces is about the art and practice of personal, collaborative and organizational discovery. It's about ideas and inspiration being realized. It's about creating a habitat for possibility. It's about synthesis and integration. It's about alignment, togetherness and harmony.

Inspiration for this term has come from several sources. One is my collaboration with Cesar Idrovo on his Discovery Curves portfolio management technique which allows an organization to make choices based on a variety of things they value. Another is Willem Larsen's 5th Rule of Accelerated Learning: Design the Environment Accordingly. 

I hope you enjoy!