Steve Blank Podcast
Summary: Steve Blank, eight-time entrepreneur and now a business school professor at Stanford, Columbia and Berkeley, shares his hard-won wisdom as he pioneers entrepreneurship as a management science, combining Customer Development, Business Model Design and Agile Development. The conclusion? Startups are simply not small versions of large companies! Startups are actually temporary organizations designed to search for a scalable and repeatable business model.
This is the second in a series about the changing models of corporate innovation co-authored with Evangelos Simoudis. Evangelos and I are working on what we hope will become a book about the new model for corporate entrepreneurship.
I first met Evangelos Simoudis when he ran IBM’s Business Intelligence Solutions Division and then as CEO of his first startup Customer Analytics. Evangelos has spent the last 15 years as a Venture Capitalist, first at Apax Partners and later at Trident Capital. During the last three years he’s worked with over 100 companies, many of which established Innovation Outposts in Silicon Valley. He’s now helping companies get the most out of their relationships with Silicon Valley.
In a recent workshop with a large company focused on the Innovation@50x process, I mentioned that founders and intraprenuers operate more like artists than accountants – on day one they see something no one else does. One of the innovators in the room said, “It sounds like you’re describing exactly what Ed Catmull the CEO of Pixar wrote in Creativity, Inc.”
I’ve spent this year working with corporations and government agencies that are adopting and adapting Lean Methodologies. One of the interesting innovation challenges I’ve encountered centers on a company’s culture. While startups have the luxury of building values and culture from scratch, existing companies that want to (re)start corporate innovation must reboot an existing –and at times deeply rooted- corporate culture. It’s not an easy task, but failing to change the culture will doom any innovation efforts the company attempts.
I’ve spent this year working with corporations and government agencies that are adopting and adapting Lean Methodologies. The biggest surprise for me was getting schooled on how extremely difficult it is to be an innovator inside a company of executors.
Todd Dunn is the Director of Innovation and runs the Intermountain Healthcare Transformation Lab, which is working to foster innovation in the healthcare industry. Todd DunnHe’s now run several Lean LaunchPad classes and has seen a ton of healthcare startups. Here’s his advice for startups in this space.
I’ve been working with large companies and the U.S. government to help them innovate faster– not just kind of fast, but 10x the number of initiatives in 1/5 the time. A 50x speedup kind of fast. Here’s how.
Startups focus on speed since they are burning cash every day as they search for product/market fit. But over time code/hardware written/built to validate hypotheses and find early customers can become unwieldy, difficult to maintain and incapable of scaling. These shortcuts add up and become what is called technical debt. And the size of the problem increases with the success of the company.
I’ve known Edmund Pendleton from the University of Maryland as the Director of the D.C. National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps Node (a collaboration among the University of Maryland, Virginia Tech, George Washington, and Johns Hopkins). But it wasn’t until seeing him lead the first I-Corps class at the National Institutes of Health that I realized Edmund could teach my class better than I can.
I am always surprised when critics complain that the Lean Startup’s Build, Measure, Learn approach is nothing more than “throwing incomplete products out of the building to see if they work.” Unfortunately the Build, Measure, Learn diagram is the cause of that confusion. At first glance it seems like a fire-ready-aim process.It’s time to update Build, Measure, Learn to what we now know is the best way to build Lean startups. Here’s how.
Thibault Duchemin and his team applied for our Lean LaunchPad class at UC Berkeley in 2014. We accepted them because it was clear Thibault was driven to solve a very personal problem – he grew up in a Deaf family, the only one who could hear. His team project was to provide automated aids for the hearing impaired. Here’s his story.
In peacetime the U.S. military is an immovable and inflexible bureaucracy. In wartime it can adapt and adopt organizational change with startling speed. BMNT, a new Silicon Valley company, is combining the Lean Methods it learned in combat with the technology expertise and speed of startups.
I’ve been working with Roberto, the Chief Innovation Officer of a diversified company I’ll call Sprocket Industries. I hadn’t heard from Roberto in awhile and when we caught up, it was clear his initial optimism had faded. I listened as Roberto listed the obstacles to the new innovation program at Sprocket...
I just spent a day working with Bob, the Chief Innovation Officer of a very smart large company I’ll call Acme Widgets. Bob summarized Acme’s impediments to innovation. “At our company we have a culture that fears failure. A failed project is considered a negative to a corporate career. As a result, few people want to start a project that might not succeed. And worse, even if someone does manage to start something new, our management structure has so many financial, legal and HR hurdles that every initiative needs to match our existing business financial metrics, processes and procedures.
During the Cold War with the Soviet Union, science and engineering at both Stanford and U.C. Berkeley were heavily funded to develop Cold War weapon systems. Stanford’s focus was Electronic Intelligence and those advanced microwave components and systems were useful in a variety of weapons systems. Starting in the 1950’s, Stanford’s engineering department became “outward facing” and developed a culture of spinouts and active faculty support and participation in the first wave of Silicon Valley startups.