Failing Well

My session “Failing Well” has been accepted for SF Agile 2012!

After attending 3-4 Lean Startup Machine events and working with internal teams at TLC to understand and apply the Customer Development framework, I’ve begun to notice a pattern…

There is a trap hidden inside CustDev. If entrepreneurs want to be successful, they have to be passionate about their ideas. They need to understand more about their customers than anyone else. I’ve observed that some entrepreneurs’ passion for their idea and their belief that they already DO know everything about their customers can prevent them from actually LEARNING what they need to know in order to create as successful business. The same passion and positive psychology required to succeed in the face of uncertainty is hindering them from learning fast enough to survive.

How can we take our passion, our vision, a couple “wild ass guesses”, and produce meaningful, validated learning?

Stand back… we are going to try science.

The question of how to learn as an organization and how to DEMONSTRATE learning has been explored by philosophers of science and by business theorists for years. What can the Lean Startup community learn about creating scientifically valid experiments that create actionable knowledge?

My “Failing Well” SF Agile session will explore the theoretical relationships between scientific hypotheses and scientific experiments. We will explore the theory behind using effective questions to invalidate assumptions and following through with the learning process after an error in the hypothesis is detected. We’ll learn how to detect hypothesis and questions that can’t be falsified and therefore only lead to vanity validation not learning.

We’ll learn how to fail well and fail faster by keeping our passion focused on the vision and our dispassionate logic focused on our assumptions.

Join Me at SF Agile June 4-6

If hearing me rant for an hour about the dangers of Cargo Cult Science isn’t tempting enough:

Steve Blank, serial entrepreneur, U.C. Berkeley, Stanford University, Columbia University professor (I’m exhausted just thinking about that much teaching), and  author of The Four Steps to the Epiphany & The Startup Owner’s Manual is Keynoting Day 1. I really enjoyed Steve’s talk at SXSW (and he signed a copy of his book for me too).

Joshua Kerievsky, author of Refactoring to Patterns and Industrial Logic founder is the Day 3 Keynote. Josh is not shy about his ideas and is one of those guys that really opens up your mind and gives you new perspectives, I’m really looking forward to his keynote.

There are only 150 tickets available for for this very interesting conference. I hope to see you in San Francisco!