Lean Startup Social

It was a great job! I worked fully remote in IT for Kellogg’s as Global Lead for Digital Collaboration. My instructions: “go make Yammer successful”. That was it. I wasn’t even given a working laptop (I had to use my own.) And there was not a lot of support (the company was definitely not set up for remote working).

But I was confident I had the answers people would want to hear. After running social learning and collaboration pilots and projects for many years, I thought I had all the use cases I needed. So I jumped in, set up a few calls, and told people how Yammer would change their work lives.

I went too fast. I thought I had all the answers. I was wrong. I didn’t listen first.

It was time to go back to the drawing board.

In a previous job I developed an intrapreneurship program. It was based on lean startup principles. This seemed a good fit for what I wanted to do, so I decided to use lean startup to test ideas for an internal consultancy service.

I pulled out a Lean Canvas (you could also use the Business Model Canvas) and got to work. This was real business analysis in action. I had a product in Yammer that I thought people would want, but needed to test where it would be best applied in the context of their work. I needed to work out how and where I could “sell” it and my support services into different parts of the organization. I had to find partners to help expand my reach globally. And I needed to establish how to measure my success.

Lean startup methodology requires you to actually talk to people to test your ideas, to ask people about their “jobs to be done”. It’s very different to usual internal workplace deployments (of tech, learning programs, comms/HR content pushes). You cannot assume you know what people need. Probe-sense-respond; it’s Cynefin in action. Adaptable, agile, iterative. I believe it’s the only way to develop successful corporate projects.

I ended up having close to 2,000 conversations. You can read more here.

Lean Canvas image is from https://blog.leanstack.com/why-lean-canvas-vs-business-model-canvas-af62c0f250f0

Technology Won’t Change Your Culture

Technology won’t change your culture.
I have to emphasise it again.  Technology won’t change your culture. No matter what technology you buy. Stop accepting the tech vendor promises at face value.

You need to put in the hard work to change the people side of systems, processes, rewards, learning, and organizational design. The implications for old school IT techniques are huge. Design-Deliver-Deploy will only launch the tech. Ancient OCM campaigns, issued from up above by various silos, will have no effect.

It’s difficult and shocking to many.

Take a look at this matrix.

Tech-Culture Matrix

The most progressive and effective path is to move from the bottom left, up to top left, and then to the right. That’s the path most consistently high performing organizations follow.

But far too many try to push right immediately and never receive the benefits the vendors or big consultancies promise.

Where is your company? Which path are you taking?