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.
When Colonel Peter Newell headed up the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force (REF) he used lean methods on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan to provide immediate technology solutions to urgent problems. Today, his company BMNT does for government and commercial customers what the Rapid Equipping Force did for the U.S. Army. Pete and I created the Hacking for Defense class (with Joe Felter and Tom Byers.) One of the problems our students run into is that there are always multiple beneficiaries and stakeholders associated with a problem, often with conflicting value propositions and missions. So how do you figure out whose needs to satisfy? Here’s Pete’s view of how you do it.
I was having a second coffee with an ex student, now the head of a marketing inside a rapidly growing startup. His company had marched through customer discovery, learning about the customer problem, validated solutions and was now scaling sales and marketing. All good news.
Getting ready for our next semester’s class, I asked my Teaching Assistant why I hadn’t seen the posters for our new class around campus. Hearing the litany of excuses that followed –“It was raining.” (The posters go inside the building.) “We still have time.” (We had agreed they were to go up a week ago) — I had a strong sense of déjà vu. When I took the job of VP of Marketing in a company emerging from bankruptcy, excuses seemed to be our main product. So we created The No Excuses Culture.
The latest “aha” moment for me when I was at Columbia University teaching an intensive 5-day version of the Lean LaunchPad/I-Corps class. The goal of the class is to expose students to the basics of the Lean Methodology – Business Model Design, Customer Development and Agile Engineering.
On the last day Congress was in session in 2016, Democrats and Republicans agreed on a bill that increased innovation and research for the country. For me, seeing Congress pass this bill, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, was personally satisfying. It made the program I helped start, the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (I-Corps) a permanent part of the nation’s science ecosystem. I-Corps uses Lean Startup methods to teach scientists how to turn their discoveries into entrepreneurial, job-producing businesses. I-Corps bridges the gap between public support of basic science and private capital funding of new commercial ventures. It’s a model for a government program that’s gotten the balance between public/private partnerships just right. Over 1,000 teams of our nation’s best scientists have been through the program.
We’re holding our 2nd Hacking for Defense, Diplomacy,… educators and sponsors class January 17-19 at Georgetown University.
We just held our final week of the Hacking for Diplomacy class, teaching students entrepreneurship and “Lean Startup” principles while they engaged in national public service applying advanced technologies to solve global challenges. Seven student teams delivered their final Lessons Learned presentations documenting their intellectual journey over just 10 short weeks in front of several hundred people in person and online. And what a journey it’s been.
I had to laugh when my post about what happens when innovative CEOs retire or die appeared in both the bastion of capitalism– the Harvard Business Review— and in the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party – The People’s Daily.Then I didn’t.
We just finished our Lean LaunchPad class at UC Berkeley’s engineering school where many of the teams embedded machine learning technology into their products. It struck me as I watched the teams try to find how their technology would solve real customer problems, is that machine learning is following a similar pattern of previous technical infrastructure innovations. Early entrants get sold to corporate acquirers at inflated prices for their teams, their technology, and their tools. Later entrants who miss that wave have to build real products that people want to buy.
We’ve just held our seventh and eighth weeks of Hacking for Diplomacy at Stanford, and the attention our course is getting from Washington – and around the world – has been interesting. Following Secretary of State John Kerry’s meeting with the students early in the quarter, Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken paid a visit to the class in Week 7 and four foreign ministers in week 8.
Jennifer Edgin is the Chief Technology Officer of the Intelligence Division at the Headquarters of the Marine Corps. As the Senior Technical Advisor to the Director of Intelligence, she is and is responsible for building and infusing new technologies within the Marine Corps Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Enterprise (MCISRE). Jennifer is one the “innovation insurgents” inside the Department of Defense driving rapid innovation. Here’s her story of the Lean innovation accelerator she’s built for the Marines.
Time flies. We are already past the midway mark in our new Hacking for Diplomacy course at Stanford, and for both students and instructors, it’s an intellectually and emotionally charged period.
The academic year is in full swing at Stanford and already we’re deep into our new Hacking for Diplomacy course. Building off last spring’s pioneering Hacking for Defense class, which sought to connect Silicon Valley’s innovation culture and mindset to the Pentagon and the intelligence community, we’ve now expanded our horizons to the Department of State.
What happens to a company when a visionary CEO is gone? Most often innovation dies and the company coasts for years on momentum and its brand. Rarely does it regain its former glory. Here’s why.
Alexander Osterwalder invented the Business Model Canvas, co-founded strategyzer.com and was the lead author of Business Model Generation which sold a million copies in 30 languages. Alexander and I often collaborate on new ideas for corporate innovation. Here’s his guest post on what bad habits to avoid inside of a company.