Book Club: Lessons Learned Implementing “Great Demo!” Methodology

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Books, Demos, Sales

Book Club For Business Impact logo Live roundtable on lessons learned implementing the “Great Demo!” methodology Tue-Sep-4-2012

  • 12:00 p.m. Pacific / 1:00 p.m. Mountain
  • 2:00 p.m. Central / 3:00 p.m. Eastern
  • 8:00 PM London / 9:00 PM Paris & Berlin

Signup

Update Sept 6: “Recap and Audio from “Lessons Learned Implementing Great Demo! Methodology

Cohan Great Demo

Great Demo!: How To Create And Execute Stunning Software Demonstrations

by Peter Cohan

Great Demo! provides sales and pre-sales staff with a method to dramatically increase their success in closing business through substantially improved software demonstrations. It draws upon the experiences of thousands of demonstrations, both delivered and received from vendors and customers. The distinctive “Do the Last Thing First” concept generates a “Wow!” response from customers.

BUY BOOK button

 

Related Resources:

Share your story –

Leave a comment below

  • What do you think of the book?
  • Do you have a question about the current book?
  • How did impact your business?

Additional Book Reviews

Managing Oneself Article
Boyd-OODA The Lean Startup
Moore's Darwin and the Demon HRB article
Cohan Great Demo
Origin and Evolution

Scott Sambucci: Seven Tips For Selling as a Startup Founder

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Books, Rules of Thumb, Sales, skmurphy

Scott Sambucci of Sales Qualia recently self-published a great book on selling entitled “Startup Selling: How to Sell If You Really, Really Have to and Don’t Know How…” It’s a slim volume chock full of practical advice for entrepreneurs new to selling to businesses. Unlike many business books that have 20 pages of useful content puffed to 240 or 480 pages this is packed with useful rules of thumb, actionable insights, and tips for recognizing and diagnosing a host of early stage sales challenges. If you are an entrepreneur who wants to get up to speed quickly on selling to business, in particular selling software, this book belongs on your short list of “must reads.”

Here are his first seven rules that are often violated but easy to fix in ways that will immediately improve your sales effectiveness; I have added some commentary after :

1. For inbound calls and leads find out why the prospect is inquiring about your products and services

The why has two branches:

  • What is  the problem they are trying to solve or goal they hope to reach with your product. Their view of their need is the most important aspect of you should frame your offering.
  • What led them to contact you in particular. Too often we are tempted to jump into a sales pitch without understanding what led to a call, was it a website, a recommendation from a friend, seeing an on-line video, hearing a talk, reading an article, etc..

2. Jumping right into a sales demo on the first call is the kiss of death.

In my first job as a post-sale application engineer I was asked to help a developer introduce a new product to an existing account. We called on one of my accounts that was happy with our products and when invited to “tell us what you have for us” he excitedly jumped into a 15 minute high speed monologue explaining all of benefits of being able to simulate certain constructs in a design.  They were silent: they couldn’t tell if they could use it. Because we hadn’t asked them questions about their use of the constructs that we could now enable them to simulate, we spent another 15 minutes painfully backtracking and attempting to do some discovery of whether or not they had a compelling need for the product.

When we debriefed afterward we realized that we didn’t have a map of the target so we didn’t know where to focus our discussion. Before I took him to my next account I asked the contact some questions in advance to determine if and where they were in pain over the inability to simulate these constructs. We were able to focus on problems that they knew they had.

About a month later, after we had debugged our engagement process and had some interest from other accounts, I was able to bring him back for a second visit to the first account, that session was much more conversational and they decided to evaluate and ultimately purchase the product.

You have to elicit symptoms and offer a diagnosis before you offer your prescription

3. Use the telephone as the default mode of communication.

At first I thought Scott overstated this one but I think he is correct, to build rapport and advance the sale you have to have conversations. These can be face or face or over the phone/skype/VoiP but the need to be synchronous to get into the easy back and forth.

4. Speak human.

This one is hard because it means that you get rejected as a person. But if you don’t act like a real person and treat your prospects as people, you can rarely build the rapport necessary to closing a deal.

5. A lead is only a person of interest. A prospect is qualified individual for whom your product or service is a clear match.

A lead can satisfy some objective criteria – e.g a person with a particular title (or possible set of titles) in an industry and perhaps a particular location or geographical region. But to be a prospect you have to have some idea of the value your offering will deliver that value within their time frame and in excess of the total cost of your solution to them

6. A prospect’s decision criteria is a formative process. It will always take more than a single call to determine.

I would add buying process to decision criteria because it’s as important to determine not only their criteria but what will be required to actually close the deal.

7. It’s never about the money. It’s about the cost.

Scott makes some great points about calculating the impact of your features, packaging, delivery, and support process on their total cost of acquisition and ownership.  I think two other factors startups neglect hoping that they can cut price to compensate are the risks involved in the decision and the business, technical, and support aspects of the ongoing relationship. For software in particular, a sale to a business is the start of an ongoing relationship. And that relationship is not evaluated purely on price.

At $7 and 130 pages, “Startup Selling: How to Sell If You Really, Really Have to and Don’t Know How…” is not only a quick read but a useful reference (also available as an e-book) that belongs in your library if you are a startup founder new to selling.


I blogged about Scott Sambucci’s August 2008 blog post on  “An Entrepreneur’s Lessons Learned” in November of 2008 “Scott Sambucci on An Entrepreneur’s Lessons Learned

Neal Stephenson on Distinguishing Different Motives for Hypocrisy

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, Books, Rules of Thumb

An excerpt from page 183 of Neal Stephenson‘s “The Diamond Age” that have implications for the culture of a startup or an economic region.

“We take a somewhat different view of hypocrisy,” Finkle-McGraw continued. “In the late-twentieth-century Weltanschauung, a hypocrite was someone who espoused high moral views as part of a planned campaign of deception—he never held these beliefs sincerely and routinely violated them in privacy. Of course, most hypocrites are not like that. Most of the time it’s a spirit-is-willing, flesh-is-weak sort of thing.”

“That we occasionally violate our own stated moral code,” Major Napier said, working it through, “does not imply that we are insincere in espousing that code.”

“Of course not,” Finkle-McGraw said. “It’s perfectly obvious, really. No one ever said that it was easy to hew to a strict code of conduct. Really, the difficulties involved—the missteps we make along the way—are what make it interesting. The internal, and eternal, struggle, between our base impulses and the rigorous demands of our
own moral system is quintessentially human. It is how we conduct ourselves in that struggle that determines how we may in time be judged by a higher power.”

A few questions about your startup’s culture:

  • Is there one set of rules that everyone strives to adhere to or are there different rules for founders than other employees or for different groups of employees (e.g. managers, engineers, ..)?
  • Do you have a lessons learned process that allows people to admit mistakes of judgement without punishment?
  • Do you espouse a code of conduct because it’s what investors or customers or employees want to hear, but you have not instituted mechanisms with teeth to monitor and enforce this conduct?

Neal Stephenson on the Importance of Culture

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, Books, Rules of Thumb

Two excerpts from Neal Stephenson‘s “The Diamond Age” that have implications for the culture of a startup or an economic region. These are from pages 24 and 25 and outlines two real life events as a part of the back story of one of the characters in the novel, hyperlinks have been added to provide context.

During his early teens, a passenger jet made an improbable crash landing at the Sioux City airport, and Finkle-McGraw, along with several other members of his Boy Scout troop who had been hastily mobilized by their scoutmaster, was standing by the runway along with every ambulance, fireman, doctor, and nurse from a radius of several counties. The uncanny efficiency with which the locals responded to the crash was widely publicized and became the subject of a made-for-TV movie. Finkle-McGraw couldn’t understand why. They had simply done what was reasonable and humane under the circumstances; why did people from other parts of the country find this so difficult to understand?

[…]

One summer, as he was living in Ames and working as a research assistant in a solid-state physics lab, the city was actually turned into an island for a couple of days by an immense flood. Along with many other Midwesterners, Finkle-McGraw put in a few weeks building levees out of sandbags and plastic sheeting. Once again he was struck by the national media coverage—reporters from the coasts kept showing up and announcing, with some bewilderment, that there had been no looting. The lesson learned during the Sioux City plane crash was reinforced. The Los Angeles riots of the previous year provided a vivid counterexample.

Finkle-McGraw began to develop an opinion that was to shape his political views in later years, namely, that while people were not genetically different, they were culturally as different as they could possibly be, and that some cultures were simply better than others. This was not a subjective value judgment, merely an observation that some cultures thrived and expanded while others failed.

A couple of questions to ponder about your startup’s culture:

  • Is there an open and free flow of information so that teams can self-organize around problems?
  • How important is for you to be in control: do you prefer inaction to mistakes in the absence of your specific instructions?
  • Are the common high level goals clear to everyone: can individuals abandon their individual objectives and metrics to respond to unfolding situations or do they wait for instruction?

Cliche, Combat, Fellowship, Anarchy, Enigma

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Books, skmurphy

S. John Ross wrote a great short essay on “Five Elements of Commercial Appeal in RPG Design” (that I first read in “Things We Think About Games” by Will Hindmarch and Jeff Tidball) that suggested these elements were critical for creating a commercially successful RPG. I think they are also a good way to think about building a successful technology business.

How To Run Experiments That Improve Your Business – On-Line Book Club June 20

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Books, Events

Tomorrow, we complete our coverage of “The Innovator’s DNA”. We have a great panel who will share their tips and lessons learned running experiments that improved their products and business models.

Join us Wednesday June 20, 2012
12 noon – 1pm PST

Register at http://www.skmurphy.com/blog/2012/05/21/book-club-chapter-the-innovators-dna/

How is SKMurphy Book Club different from other book review clubs?

There is a large gap between reading a business book or article and applying it to your work. We find entrepreneurs and business leaders who have applied the techniques and methods suggested by the authors and have a candid discussion about what they have learned.  The panel shares stories about what has worked and what hasn’t, offering insights you can act on. It’s a discussion that also includes questions and comments from the audience, with audience questions probing for real insights on how to use the ideas and principles outlined in the book.

Since we selected the Innovator’s DNA as one of the best business books of 2011, we have explored the key skills in five webinars:

Find other recorded sessions at  SKMurphy Book Club for Business Impact

Are You Using Cognitive Task Analysis for New Market Exploration?

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, Books, Rules of Thumb

I am interested in talking with anyone who is using Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) or Naturalistic Decision Making (NDM) methods and paradigms to inform their customer interviews. I have been reading  “Working Minds: A Practitioner’s Guide to Cognitive Task Analysis” by Gary Klein et. al. and I had an epiphany that these techniques would be directly applicable to a startup developing analytics or collaboration software. CTA/NDM techniques appear to be in active use for the analysis of military, health, fire and safety, and other problem domains where experts need to make life and death decisions in ambiguous situations against short deadlines.

Background on Gary Klein

I have been a fan of Gary Klein ever since I read a 1998 Science News article “Seeing Through Expert Eyes” that described his “naturalistic decision making” model:

…one of many examples of decision-making expertise collected over the past 20 years by psychologist Gary Klein. […] Klein is helping to develop a research perspective—known as naturalistic decision making, or NDM—for unraveling how people become bona fide experts in performing complex, real-life tasks.

“In many dynamic, uncertain, and fast-paced environments, there is no single right way to make decisions,” Klein says. “Experts learn to perceive things that are invisible to novices, such as the characteristics of a typical situation. They make high-quality decisions under extreme time pressure. When difficulties arise, experts find opportunities for improvising solutions.”

Klein has written several excellent books on decision making and expertise

In “Sources of Power” he outlines a “recognition primed decision making” model for how experts manage uncertainty against tight time and resource constraints–situations analogous to many challenges bootstrapping entrepreneurs face. I quoted him in my “Limits of I’ll Know It When I See It” talk on  expertise driven companies.

Key Elements of Cognitive Task Analysis

Klein divides his time between MacroCognition and ARA, the latter firm has a page on cognitive task analysis at  that breaks it into three phases (Working Minds goes into much more detail in 300+ pages):

  • Knowledge Elicitation is the process of extracting information, through in- depth interviews and observations, about cognitive events, structures, or models. Often the people who provide this information are subject matter experts (SMEs) People who have demonstrated high levels of skill and knowledge in the domain of interest.
  • Analysis is a process of structuring data inspecting, selecting, simplifying, abstracting, and transforming information, developing explanations, and extracting meaning. CTA practitioners use a range of quantitative and qualitative analyses in handling data.
  • Knowledge Representation is the process of displaying data and depicting relationships, explanations, and the meaning derived from data analysis. This step is integral for enabling other people sponsors, customers, system designers who understand the results of the CTA.

Applying Cognitive Task Analysis to Market Exploration

Working Minds highlights “Concept Maps” (see for example http://cmap.ihmc.us/publications/researchpapers/theorycmaps/theoryunderlyingconceptmaps.htm ) as a powerful way to summarize interviews with experts and allow multiple experts to compare notes. I would welcome any insights on using either Cognitive Task Analysis or Concept Maps as of part of the customer interview process. My current approach also involves two people taking notes but using a wiki for hyperlinking connections instead of a graphical representation and collecting verbatim quotes instead of trying to code interview answers.

For More On Gary Klein’s Insights

Book Club: Chapter 6 The Innovator’s DNA: Experimenting

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Books, Events

Recorded discussion on Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, Clayton M. Christensen’s The Innovator’s DNA chapter 6, recorded on June 20, 2012. Michael Fern and Edith Harbaugh join Steve Hogan and Sean Murphy to discuss lessons learned experimenting to foster innovation.

Chapter 6:

Discovery Skill #5 Experimenting

The Innovator’s DNA

by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, Clayton M. Christensen

Practical and provocative, The Innovator’s DNA is an essential resource for individuals and teams who want to strengthen their innovative prowess.

The authors outline five discovery skills that distinguish innovative entrepreneurs and executives from ordinary managers: Associating, Questioning, Observing, Networking, and Experimenting.

BUY BOOK button

Listen to the recorded session
Complete SKMurphy’s book club list
Remind me of upcoming events

Related Resources:

The Innovator’s DNA overview

Discovery Skills

  1. Associating
  2. Questioning
  3. Observing
  4. Networking
  5. Experimenting

Share your story –

Leave a comment below

  • What do you think of the topic?
  • Do you have a question about this topic?
  • How did impact your business?

Additional Book Reviews

Managing Oneself Article
Boyd-OODA The Lean Startup
Moore's Darwin and the Demon HRB article
Cohan Great Demo
Origin and Evolution

Tristan Kromer Joins Book Club’s Panel on Networking Skill Development

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Books, Events

We continue our review of “The Innovator’s DNA” by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, Clayton M. Christensen with a focus on networking, which the author’s define as seeking serious conversation with individuals from diverse backgrounds, experiences, and expertise.  Here is a  quote by Ronald Burt on creativity from idea brokerage  (condensed from page 117):

“People connected to groups beyond their own have early access to diverse, often contradictory information and interpretations, which gives them competitive advantage in seeing and developing good ideas. This is creativity as an import-export business. A idea mundane in one group can be a valuable insight in another.”

What: Book Club for Business Impact covers Innovator’s DNA Skill #4 Networking
When : Wednesday May 16 Noon to 1pm PST / 3-4PM EST / 8PM London / 9PM Paris & Berlin / May 17 7AM Sydney
Where : on-line https://vimeo.com/42297558
Cost: No charge for live event

Tristan Kromer, Steve Hogan and I will be discussing the book and specifically Chapter 5 on networking. This is intended to be a roundtable conversation and we will take questions and comments from the audience via the chat interface throughout the event. You can use the GotoMeeting client or dial in from the US, Europe, or Australia.

Tristan (@TriKro) brings unique background and set of experiences to the panel. He has lived in 12 cities spread across five countries, he worked or ten years in the music industry, five years in IT security, and has becoming actively involved advising a number of startups as well as launching of his own. He blogs at grasshopperherder.com.

The word networking can conjure up a number of obnoxious business practices. For the purposes of the discussion there are a couple of situations that we will take as points of departure:

  • You may very well be looking for new information that’s outside your box, it’s likely inside of someones else’s. Many successful innovative products rely less on the discovery of genuinely new information and more on the combination of knowledge from seemingly unrelated fields or industries.
  • There is a category of information that’s not written down (yet, and perhaps never). You place your startup at a tremendous disadvantage if you focus on learning solely from reading or what you can directly observe. Someone else’s experiences and expertise can often supply missing pieces of the product market fit puzzle.
  • Networking in a mature firm tends to be ends focused: you have a specific destination in mind and are looking for insights and resources to accomplish a pre-existing goal. This leads to interpersonal networking strategies that are more transactional. Networking in a startup is often driven by a search for means and building blocks, it’s as much about gaining multiple perspective on your current situation and weaving a network  that you can continue to collaborate with as it is a single transaction.
  • One of the largest barriers to effective networking is your own experience; like a fish in water it can be hard to understand how to build a common context for a conversation.

Book Club: Chapter 5 – The Innovator’s DNA

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Books, Events

Call-in Book Review recorded on May 16, 2012
Tristan Kromer, Steve Hogan and Sean Murphy discuss the book and specifically Chapter 5 on networking.

Chapter 5:

Discovery Skill #4 Networking

The Innovator’s DNA

by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, Clayton M. Christensen

Practical and provocative, The Innovator’s DNA is an essential resource for individuals and teams who want to strengthen their innovative prowess.

The authors outline five discovery skills that distinguish innovative entrepreneurs and executives from ordinary managers: Associating, Questioning, Observing, Networking, and Experimenting.

BUY BOOK button

Complete SKMurphy’s book club list
Remind me of upcoming events

Related Resources:

The Innovator’s DNA overview

Discovery Skills

  1. Associating
  2. Questioning
  3. Observing
  4. Networking
  5. Experimenting

Share your story –

Leave a comment below

  • What do you think of the topic?
  • Do you have a question about this topic?
  • How did impact your business?

Additional Book Reviews

Managing Oneself Article
Boyd-OODA The Lean Startup
Moore's Darwin and the Demon HRB article
Cohan Great Demo
Origin and Evolution

Pretotyping – Techniques for Building the Right Product

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 4 Finding your Niche, Books, Rules of Thumb, skmurphy

Alberto Savoia defines pretotyping as determining that you are “building the right product before you invest in building your product right.” His book “Pretotype It” (Second Edition available as a Free PDF or on Kindle for $0.99) lists a set of seven techniques for pretotyping on pages 39-40. This post analyzes and elaborates on the techniques from the book (bold text is from the book) and then offers five additional ones that should be included.

Seven Basic Pretotyping Techniques

  1. The Mechanical Turk – Replace complex and expensive computers or machines with human beings.
    Also known as

    • starting with a service
    • wrapping a thick protective blanket of consulting around your product so that no one is hurt by it
    • selling the holes not the drill
    • Wizard of Oz (pay no attention to the man behind the curtain).
    • Flintstoning (Fred Flinstone’s feet powered his “car”).
    • Manualating (a backward formation from automating)
    • the concierge method
  2. The Pinocchio – Build a non-functional, “lifeless”, version of the product.
    Useful for form and fit validation. Jeff Hawkins famously carried around a block of wood to get an appreciation for what a PDA might feel like.
  3. The Minimum Viable Product (or Stripped Tease) – Create a functional version of the product, but stripped down to its most basic functionality.
    A basic approach for any bootstrapper – make sure you have the simplest offering that customers are willing to buy before you worry about adding features (and delaying time to break even revenue).  In reading this Savoia is using the Marty Cagan MVP model “smallest possible product that has three critical characteristics: people choose to use it or buy it; people can figure out how to use it; and we can deliver it when we need it with the resources available – also known as valuable, usable and feasible.”
  4. The Provincial – Before launching world-wide, run a test on a very small sample.
    Start in a niche. When in doubt zoom in for traction.
  5. The Fake Door – Create a fake “entry” for a product that doesn’t yet exist in any form.
    I am not a fan of this except in very limited circumstances for B2B markets as it can be very corrosive to the trust required to built a long term business relationship. And at least with software products for business, a longer term relationship is normally intrinsic to the customer’s calculation of the value of your offering. If you start to erect “Potemkin village” products that have too many false fronts or facade items in your menus and options prospects may doubt the entire offering.
  6. The Pretend-to-Own – Before investing in buying whatever you need for your product, rent or borrow it first.
    Find a way to use tooling or equipment before committing to  a significant purchase.
  7. The Re-label – Put a different label on an existing product that looks like the product you want to create.
    Often a more complex product can have menu items deleted or entire branches of a menu tree pruned to explore whether this is a market for a simpler offering. At Cisco we didn’t stuff two connectors on a four port router and changed the paint job to create a “lower cost” model until the box could be re-designed.

Five I Think Should Be Added

  • The holodeck – simulate the effect of a product on a workflow: understand where the next bottleneck is to determine how much benefit eliminating one or more steps (or reducing one or more category of error) will actually yield. This is the default method for “system on a chip” design approaches but I suspect we will see more service workflow simulations as a part of the development of new service offerings in the future.
  • Family Tree – verify that manual implementations exist for what you plan to automate, has someone written an Excel macro (or an EMACS macro)  to solve the problem. Are people already following a checklist to prevent a category of errors? Replacing workarounds involves less behavior change (at least in terms of a customer’s view of the real problem) than getting them to try something without antecedents.
  • “What’s On Your Mind” – understand the customer’s view of the problem and the constraints your solution has to satisfy before proposing one.  This normally requires an active curiosity about the customer’s perception of their needs.  This is not the same as asking them for features and implementing them without considering the deeper implications.
  • Picnic in the Graveyard – do research on what’s been tried and failed. Many near misses have two out of three values in a feature set combination correct (some just have too many features and it’s less a matter of changing features than deleting a few). If you are going to introduce something that’s “been tried before” be clear in your own mind of what’s different about it and why it will make a difference to your customer.
  • Want Ad – ask customers to write up a job description with a focus on “results to be achieved” by your product. Clayton Christensen calls this the “jobs to be done” model for a new produce (See also Chapter 3 from Innovator’s SolutionWhat Products Will Customers Want to Buy

Savoia Adds “One Night Stand”

In workshops given after the second edition was published Savoia has added a new technique: The One Night Stand. Primarily aimed at retail innovation it says you can create “a complete service experience without the infrastructure required by a permanent solution.  Here are some details from the  “Pretotyping Cheat Sheet” by Leonardo Zangrando (leonardo@pretotype.co.uk):

  • How: Deliver target customers the real experience in an extremely narrow geographic scope and time frame.
  • Why: Avoid large infrastructure investment until validating market interest and actual use.
  • Where: In the same real-life situation where the innovation will be used but with limited time and geographic scope.

Three situations where this is most appropriate:

  1. The solution is-or depends critically upon–an interactive service experience
  2. You expect demand for the offer will be sensitive to the choice of channel, and you need to test a number of possible customer interception points
  3. You want to validate a large homogeneous market before scaling up

I think this is an intelligent elaboration on what was called “The Provincial” in the second edition but it’s particularly appropriate where a specialized facility can be replaced in a trial for a temporary setup (e.g. a tent in the parking lot of an existing store, a stall in a farmers market, a rented facility in preference to building your own before you have determined there is a need).

Related Articles and Blog Posts

Sketching The Likeness Of An Imaginary Business

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, Books, skmurphy

Startups originate in the mind of an entrepreneur, often as the result of observing something that seems odd, or is the result of juxtaposing two or three seeming unrelated or even incongruous ideas. The first challenge the entrepreneur faces turn his insight into something others can critique and improve upon: to show them sketches of the imaginary business and ask for feedback.

Book Club: The Innovator’s DNA: Observing

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Books, Events

Recorded discussion on Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, Clayton M. Christensen’s The Innovator’s DNA chapter 4, recorded on April 25, 2012. Jeff Allison, former VP of Engineering at Cisco Systems joins us to discuss observing.

Chapter 4:

Discovery Skill #3 Observing

The Innovator’s DNA

by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, Clayton M. Christensen

Practical and provocative, The Innovator’s DNA is an essential resource for individuals and teams who want to strengthen their innovative prowess.

The authors outline five discovery skills that distinguish innovative entrepreneurs and executives from ordinary managers: Associating, Questioning, Observing, Networking, and Experimenting.

BUY BOOK button

Complete SKMurphy’s book club list
Remind me of upcoming events

Related Resources:

The Innovator’s DNA overview

Discovery Skills

  1. Associating
  2. Questioning
  3. Observing
  4. Networking
  5. Experimenting

Share your story –

Leave a comment below

  • What do you think of the topic?
  • Do you have a question about this topic?
  • How did impact your business?

Additional Book Reviews

Managing Oneself Article
Boyd-OODA The Lean Startup
Moore's Darwin and the Demon HRB article
Cohan Great Demo
Origin and Evolution

Book Club: The Innovator’s DNA: Questioning

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Books, Events

Recorded discussion on Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, Clayton M. Christensen’s The Innovator’s DNA chapter 3, recorded on March 28, 2012. Sarah Gray, Ethan Thorman, and Mark Cook join Steve Hogan and Sean Murphy to discuss lessons learned asking questions to foster innovation.

Chapter 3:

Discovery Skill #2 Questioning

The Innovator’s DNA

by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, Clayton M. Christensen

Practical and provocative, The Innovator’s DNA is an essential resource for individuals and teams who want to strengthen their innovative prowess.

The authors outline five discovery skills that distinguish innovative entrepreneurs and executives from ordinary managers: Associating, Questioning, Observing, Networking, and Experimenting.

BUY BOOK button

Complete SKMurphy’s book club list
Remind me of upcoming events
In addition to the United States, dial-in numbers are available for Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
GoToMeeting also provides a VoiP option.

Related Resources:

The Innovator’s DNA overview

Discovery Skills

  1. Associating
  2. Questioning
  3. Observing
  4. Networking
  5. Experimenting

Share your story –

Leave a comment below

  • What do you think of the topic?
  • Do you have a question about this topic?
  • How did impact your business?

Additional Book Reviews

Managing Oneself Article
Boyd-OODA The Lean Startup
Moore's Darwin and the Demon HRB article
Cohan Great Demo
Origin and Evolution

Best Business Book of 2011: The Innovator’s DNA

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Books, Events, skmurphy, Video


Or download audio directly: InnovDNAPromo120202


The Innovator’s DNA overview

Webinar Sessions covering the Discovery Skills:

  1. Associating
  2. Questioning
  3. Observing
  4. Networking
  5. Experimenting

If you would like to sign up we have a short URL for you, http://dld.bz/skmurphy-bookclub.


Edited Transcript with Hyperlinks

Sean Murphy: This is Sean Murphy for the Book Club for Business Impact, talking why are covering “The Innovators DNA” by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen and Clayton Christensen, in a five-part webinar series.

I think this is the best book from 2011 on innovation and entrepreneurship. It is based on interviews of more than 100 innovators, a decade of research and compliments other auto-biographical books that have come out. It is packed with insights. It presents five key discovery skills, how to assess them, how to develop them and how to apply them. These skills  are important to master for any team trying to innovate.

I think the following kinds of  people will benefit from taking part in this series.

  • If you are a first time entrepreneur, this book and this webinar series will give you a model for exploring a new market.
  • If you are a serial entrepreneur I think it will give you a useful perspective on your earlier efforts and may enable you to refine your approach.
  • And if you are trying to get your firm to innovate it gives you a framework of key discovery skills and also allows you to understand the contrast of traditional execution skills that are more focused on detail and planning as opposed to discovery.

Steve Hogan: This is Steve Hogan. I am joining Sean on this series. I am a recovering serial entrepreneur. I got lucky earlier in life, started a couple of companies that had successful exits.  I have been working with developmentally challenged early stage tech companies and helping them find the path to profitability and growth. But my true passion is mentoring first-time entrepreneurs so that they never, ever, need a savior.

Sean: I am the CEO of SKMurphy. I have been an entrepreneur for a while. I have a consulting firm that helps technology firms and introduce new products and services. Our focus is early customers and early revenue.

Steve, what is your take on the book?

Steve: I think it is a great book for first-time entrepreneurs.  In fact I wish I had this when I was doing my first couple of companies. The key insight I took take away was that the leader’s innovative skills impact the entire team. Strong leaders with strong discovery skills can improve the entire team’s ability to innovate.

The DNA in the title refers to the DNA of the organization, not just the leaders. These are discovery skill sets not just the traits. More importantly, it is a personal self-help and skill building directory. The authors believe that everybody has these basic skill sets and offer a simple test to help you to identify your strengths.

They give you a step by step approach to cultivate those strengths and build your tool kit. It is a truly unique way of improving your own performance derived from interviews with over a hundred other entrepreneurs.

Sean: I think it is also a very good book for innovators in larger firms. It offers a model for why established firms find innovation difficult. It explains the different skills that are required at different stages in a firm’s life cycle, in particular, the discovery skills used for innovation and execution skills useful for skill and growth.

I want to stress that these webinars will be a learning experience, not a lecture experience. We have invited other innovators to share their lessons learned applying these five key discovery skills. We will offer this in an interactive format which will help you apply these skills to your situation.

Steve: Here are the skills we are going to be talking about in the five separate webinar sessions, and our take on what they involve:

  1. Associating: connecting disparate facts, observations, and stories to enable combinations of seemingly unrelated ideas in a new and unique way.
  2. Questioning: first understanding the world as it is, then exploring why, why not, and what if.
  3. Observing: being mindful in familiar situations and appreciative in novel situations.
  4. Networking is an absolute. By this they don’t mean hanging around with your buddies, it means taking serious conversation with people of diverse backgrounds, people with backgrounds different from your own, learning from their experience and learning from their expertise.
  5. Experimenting: taking risks to gain new perspectives. This can either involve trying new experiences, or carefully analyzing products, processes, and ideas, or testing your ideas with prototypes. Experimenting is not done in a lab setting, it’s about submerging yourself in a truly different environment and appreciating a different perspective on life.

Sean: On page 27 they explain how these skills fit together.

Diagram from page 27 Innovator's DNA on Skill Relationships

There are two basic orientations an innovator brings to a new field. One is to challenge status quo and that drives questioning, observing and networking and a willingness to take risks and that drives experimenting. Tying those four skills together is associating, where you are linking at different facts to create new combinations that may either yield an innovative thought or business idea or trigger more questions and a need for more observations, more folks to talk to and more experiments to run.

Steve: These webinars are a true roundtable discussion format, not a pure lecture series. The panel is going to include first time entrepreneurs, experienced entrepreneurs and other innovators from larger companies. We will take questions from a live audience and each session is going to focus on one particular skill and the lessons learned and applying that skill.

Sean: Let me give you the line-up:

If you would like to sign up we have a short URL for you, http://dld.bz/skmurphy-bookclub.

Thanks for your time. Hope you are able to join us.


Some other references for the book:

Quick Links

Bootstrappers Breakfast Link Startup Stages Clients In the News Upcoming Events Office Hours Button Newsletter SignUp