Bootstrap your Business Model - Business Agility on the Back of a Napkin

With every product we ship, we learn what we wished we’d known: what customers *really* wanted. What if you could gain those insights before beginning development? What if you could “unit test” a product idea? Or at a bigger level, what if you could “system test” your business idea/plan?

Engineering teams are experiencing productivity gains of 30-300% when applying Agile and Lean practices and methods. These same Agile and Lean principles can be applied beyond engineering, to the business itself. Using a lightweight yet powerful tool, assumptions behind a business plan can be tested and iterated almost on-the-fly. With a hands-on exercise, attendees will learn how to build a map of any business ecosystem, and how to use it to check and iterate solution viability. Come experience the application of Agile to Business so you and your team can focus on your richest opportunities over chasing your competitor’s taillights.


Outline/Structure of the Workshop

Intro [17 minutes]

  • (2 min) Welcome and Topic Intro
  • (6 min) Icebreaker Exercise
    Participants Pair up (creating a connection early) and spend 2 min each describing their current business model to their partner.
  • (6 min) Discussion
    • Select a Volunteer to describe their partner's model in 1 min
    • Check for accuracy with partner.
    • Lead the audience to grasp the potential gaps by asking if it described the solution, or includes elements like the problem being addressed, partners needed, revenue / benefits, costs
    • How are typical business / product descriptions like big Epics? What if we could slice those epics into testable 'stories', and apply incremental and iterative evolution to the business?

  • (3 min) Concept: Business Model Canvas - a tool for designing and testing using Inspect & Adapt in the business layers (Walk through 9 elements - video)

Why is a (Business) Model Significant? [9 minutes]

  • (2 min) Design Thinking
    Agile encourages product development through progressive 'shippable' increments. Why not apply the same approach in business / product definition? A Business Model enables us to apply design & lean thinking by seeing a 'whole'.
  • (2 min) Testability (think TDD for a whole product, or whole business)
    What's our cost / lesson when we demo / test a near finished product, vs a prototype?
  • (5 min) Example
    Example of a Class offering. Iterate Model showing how Class can be repositioned for additional markets. Demonstrate how as a simple diagram, this can be drawn "on the back of a napkin" and still convey a wealth of information.

Practice [16 minutes]

  • (6 min) Exercise
    Form groups by table; given a product example, as a group, create a single model
  • (10 min) Discussion / Q&A
    have 3 volunteers share models in 1 minute each; discuss similarities, differences, compare to earliest descriptions

Testing a Model [8 Minutes]

  • (4 min) "Unit" Testing product elements:
    Show the feedback loop in the Customer Development chain that leads to product / business pivots,
    Show layering in market research such as addressable sizes, direct talks with prospective customers to determine suitability / attractiveness
  • (4 min)"System" testing model:
    Outline factors to consider in order to assess model strengths, weaknesses
    Show progression from Minimum Viable Product to Product-Market Fit in the Customer Development Chain; consider sustainability as a measure of viability

Practice (round 2) [15 minutes]

  • (5 min) Exercise
    Form groups by table; given a (new) product, create a model, and introduce at least 3 tests
  • (10 min) Discussion / Q&A
    have 3 volunteers share models & tests; discuss applications of tool / technique with Agile Teams and Product Owners

Alternate Canvas (Lean Canvas) Comparison [5 min]
Summary, Close, Final Q&A [5 min]

Learning Outcome

  • How to amplify Agile’s power of Inspect & Adapt by applying it in business layers
  • How to Paper Prototype a Business or a Product Definition ahead of development
  • How to “unit test” a Product to find Minimum Viable Product
  • How to “system test” a Business Model to find Product Market Fit
  • Experience creating a Business Model for a simple product, and exploring how the same product could be used to solve multiple customer problems

Target Audience

Business Leaders; Product Owners; Development Teams; Coaches

Prerequisites for Attendees

This session presumes familiarity with

Product Development



schedule Submitted 5 years ago

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