Photo of a LEGO scene depicting a mad scientist and experiment
Business 2.0, Design

Crafting great experiments

I’ve recently been involved in designing and running a bunch of different experiments under Lean Startup principles with an emphasis on testing the value proposition and customer traction (rather than product-specific factors).

While on the surface the idea of experiments seems relatively straightforward, my experience has been they are trickier to get right than they first appear. Especially early in the development of a product or service.

We’ve had some #flearnings along the way that I thought would be valuable to share (to “fail informatively” to borrow the phrase from Clay Shirky). Continue reading

Lego minifig character holding the 'Ctrl' key from a laptop keyboard
Business 2.0, Design, Sustainability

Finding momentum towards urban energy savings

Implicit in my recent series of posts is that the structural barriers won’t or can’t be addressed. Of course, wins of this manner/magnitude can have huge flow-on effects. So working towards addressing these remains critical and important. For example, if:

  • New building stock had sustainability as a key criteria
  • Buildings had smart meters that provided timely data to residents
  • Open data became the norm for energy usage information (i.e. system interoperability, with due security measures to ensure privacy etc.) that enabled individuals to use a variety of toolsets or “migrate” their data between systems
  • Strata managers and owners’ corporations took active steps to make operations more efficient, save money, and introduce generation capacity where suitable
  • Residents are empowered to have a more active voice in moving strata managers and owners’ corporations to express their values, whether they be owners or renters

Then we would be in a much better place—literally.

However, regardless of if this is possible, it’s going to take time. And in the meantime, what can residents do? Do they just throw their arms in the air and say “I can’t do anything (meaningful)?” Or are their options that the can exercise? Continue reading

Business 2.0, Design, Government 2.0, NGOs & Nonprofits, Presentations, Sustainability

Designing for Purpose

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the February instalment of Design Thinking Sydney, a monthly meetup for exploring design thinking practice.

I was stoked to be asked to present on the topic of Designing for Purpose. My presentation slides below:

I need to do a tiny bit of tidy-up on my notes, but I hope to do so over the weekend, and I’ll post them here once they’re done.

As I suspected a number of attendees at the session would be relatively well-versed in the ideas behind design thinking, I wanted to focus a bit on what’s different about applying these practices in a for-purpose context.

Given a tad more preparation time, I’d reframe a few of the points I made to be more positive (it may come across as a bit negative!) But I think these methods hold tremendous value, and that it’s really important that we continue to develop these practice—just that we go in with our “eyes open” and to be prepared for some of these differences and challenges.

The main points of difference I identified (and, of course, there are probably more than I’ve highlighted here) were in how we:

  • Define value
  • Embrace and frame “failure”
  • Engage with stakeholders
  • Encourage behaviour change
  • Measure and evaluate

Thanks to the organising committee for the invite, and for the participants who asked questions and came and spoke to me after—it was a great opportunity to dive in and explore and challenge the things I presented, which I found most valuable and enlightening!

Generation Entrepreneur. Start here, go anywhere. Initiate48.
Design, Work

Mentoring at Initiate48 this weekend

Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m a big advocate for the development of entrepreneurship skills. Even if not pursuing a hot startup idea, such skills are becoming increasingly important in the future of work. This was a big part of the vision for the IDX Initiative.

Thus, I was excited to learn about Initiate48 which is happening this weekend, over Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, at Blue Chilli Group in the Sydney CBD. As the promo site explains:

For the better part of our high school experience, we have been living someone else’s life—our parents, our teachers, our peers and our societies. We live in a way that does not resonate with our dreams and ambitions. We choose a path based on what others think and discard the values that give us happiness. Initiate 48 enables you to figure out who you are, what you enjoy and how you want to live your life. You have gifts that are brilliant and amazing and it matters that you let the world see them. Now is the time for you to take action and empower yourself—build your dream startup.

I’m delighted to be able to contribute to the sessions as a mentor on Saturday morning. I’m really looking forward to no doubt being inspired by the participants—their energy and ideas—and to hopefully contribute in a positive and constructive way to the weekend’s proceedings.

Source: Gilad Lotan https://www.flickr.com/photos/giladlotan/5108589192/
Business 2.0, Design

Startups vs. research for innovation

We recently saw Australia’s leading political parties exchanging policies to out-fund the other in relation to spurring “innovation.” By and large, I think this is good thing, and a refreshing change to focus on ways forward and the future, rather than on who might come in or out of the country, and one whose terms.

During these announcements, Labor put forward their policy position which included regional hubs, to be delivered through educational institutions such as universities and the idea of a “Startup Year” for students.

Around that time, Steve Baxter from River City Labs1 and Shark Tank, took to BRW to argue the case to Fund accelerators, not just universities.

I can’t say I disagree with the overall sentiment of Steve’s piece, but it did cause me to take pause and think a little deeper about the role and relationship of startups and university research. Continue reading