Video from Lean Innovation 101 Talk at SF Bay ACM Nov-20-2013

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, Events, Lean Startup, skmurphy, Video

The video from my “What is Lean–Lean Innovation 101” talk is up:

Here is the description for the talk

“Lean” provides a scientific approach for creating a product and developing new businesses. Teams can iteratively building products or services to meet the needs of early customers by adopting a combination of customer development, business-hypothesis-driven experimentation and iterative product releases. This talk covers:

  • Why more and more companies are using Lean
  • What is Lean, what it is not
  • Key concepts
  • Get Out Of Your BatCave
  • Use an initial product (MVP) as a probe to explore the market
  • Build-Measure-Learn
  • When and how to pivot
  • Rules of thumb for successful lean innovation

I want to thank Alex Sokolsky for his outstanding effort on behalf of SF Bay ACM doing the video capture and editing.

BeamWise Demo For BiOS 2014

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Clients in the News, Demos, skmurphy, Video

I have blogged about BeamWise™ in

If you are interested in getting a closer look, Kinetic River will be demonstrating it in booth 8639 at the BiOS Conference February 1-2, 2014. If you don’t want to wait that long contact Giacomo Vacca directly or take a look at a new BeamWise demo video.

Here is the script for the audio track:

BeamWise™ is a software tool for automating biophotonic systems design. It captures an optical layout and generates a detailed optical system design automatically. Outputs include a 3D CAD model for visualization and fully annotated and dimensioned 2D drawings and parts list.

BeamWise also lets designers explore design options as any changes are implemented instantly.

BeamWise is implemented using Design++, a design automation platform that simplifies the capture of engineering expertise

This video will take you through the process of designing an optical system using BeamWise. We will start with a simple sketch on a whiteboard, capture key parameters in BeamWise, review the resulting 3D mechanical model, and generate an annotated and dimensioned drawings and parts lists.

Beams are the key reference points in an optical layout. BeamWise allows you to specify them directly in the mechanical design and use them as reference elements.

Optical system design is a combination of simulation and tinkering in the lab. We start by creating a new design from your optical layout and design parameters. The optical layout is entered as a vector file that lists the system components and their optical connections. From this input, BeamWise generates a detailed optical system design using real optomechanical components.

Next, BeamWise produces a 3D CAD model to visualize the new design. For design verification and release to manufacturing, BeamWise generates annotated dimensioned assembly drawings and a parts list

You have seen us define the beam paths for an optical system and use them as references for the positions of the optical and mechanical elements.

This optical layout is used as an input for BeamWise to create a new optical system design, visualize it in a 3D CAD model, produce fully annotated and dimensioned drawings, and generate a parts list for manufacturing.

We will now demonstrate how BeamWise lets designers explore design options on the fly using the beam as the reference. We will start by shortening a beam segment. This is useful when exploring how to fit the new design into a target enclosure. The design is updated automatically to reflect the new length. Next, we will redirect a beam segment: the change is propagated through the rest of the beam path on the fly.

The design changes are reflected automatically in the 2D drawings and parts list. After BeamWise generates the drawings, the designer can adjust dimensioning and add annotations as needed. The final design can be exported to PDF for easy sharing and review.

Working from a few key parameters, BeamWise can generate a 3D CAD model for the visualization of an optical system design. Dimensioned drawings and parts list are also produced automatically. Changes can be made on the fly using the beams as reference points to explore how best to fit the system into a target enclosure.


If you are interested in getting a closer look, Kinetic River will be in booth 8639 at the BiOS Conference February 1-2, 2014.

We will also be presenting in “Session 1: Sensors and Ruggedized Systems I” on Sunday 2 February 2014 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM

Automated design tools for biophotonic systems (Invited Paper) Paper 8992-1
Author(s): Giacomo Vacca, Kinetic River Corp. (United States); Hannu Lehtimäki, Plan Energy Ltd. (Finland); Tapio Karras, Design Parametrics, Inc. (United States); Sean Murphy, SKMurphy, Inc. (United States)

Abstract: Traditional design methods for flow cytometers and other complex biophotonic systems are increasingly recognized as a major bottleneck in instrumentation development. The many manual steps involved in the analysis and translation of the design, from optical layout to a detailed mechanical model and ultimately to a fully functional instrument, are labor-intensive and prone to wasteful trial-and-error iterations. We have developed two complementary, linked technologies that address this problem: one design tool, LiveIdeasTM provides an intuitive environment for interactive, real-time simulations of system-level performance; the other tool, BeamWiseTM automates the generation of 3D CAD mechanical models based on those simulations. The strength of our approach lies in a parametric modeling strategy that breaks boundaries between engineering subsystems (e.g., optics and fluidics) to predict critical behavior of the instrument as a whole. The results: 70 percent reduction in early-stage project effort, significantly enhancing the probability of success by virtue of a more efficient exploration of the design space.

Lisa Solomon: Effective Meetings Choose One of Reaching Understanding, Generating Options, or Making Decisions

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

I have been fortunate to collaborate with Lisa Solomon on several projects. Most recently she helped me prepare for my “Get Out of Your BatCave” talk May 7, 2013 at Parisoma. She gave me the same advice that she offers in the talk below: what do you want the audience to leave with, what do you want to experience them during the talk. It led me to completely redesign the structure of the presentation to make it a more interactive conversation with the audience for the entire session.

What follows is a heavily edited transcript that focuses on the content in from minutes four through nine.

I teach graduate students and executives how to use visual and design thinking how to solve complex problems. Data and spreadsheets are not going to get us where we need to go.

We need to have meaningful conversations that are discovery oriented to get to new insights.

I spend a lot of time thinking about how to get more meaning from meetings.

Design is about usability. When you are sitting in a meeting where it’s all you can do not to pick up your phone and start texting or do “real work” under the table, the meeting has failed you. You have not been set up for success.

We need to think differently about how we design meetings. It’s not about meaning management, that’s the wrong frame. It’s really about designing meaningful conversations.

We need to work backwards from one minute after the end of a meeting and ask ourselves:

  • What has happened as a result of this conversation?
  • What use have we delivered to each participant

There are really only three kinds of meetings:

  1. Building understanding: enabled each participant share relevant information to build a common understanding for clarity.
  2. Shaping choices: explore potential options, choices that are concrete discrete possibilities that we can analyze and test.
  3. Making decisions: only possible after we have a common understanding and clear choices framed.

But too often we take the goal of the meeting to “get to next steps” so we rush through building understanding and shaping choices and try to find our way to making decisions.

Each activity–building understanding, shaping choices, and making decisions–requires a different design.

If someone wants to do all three in one meeting, “just say no.”

That will save hours of your time.

I think this model for three kinds of meetings is very useful for startups. As the team grows it’s very tempting for the founders to try save time by forcing a decision before everyone with relevant information has been heard and a reasonable range of options have been framed. Taking the time for important decisions to follow this three step approach, along with premortems and decision records, will help prevent the “Groundhog Day” effect of revisiting decisions because important information was not factored in or a key option was not considered.

Lisa Solomon is working with Chris Ertel on “Moments of Impact: Designing Strategic Conversations.”  The book, due out in 2014, will offer practical advice on how to design meetings for meaning.

Slides and Audio From “How To Bootstrap” ASLCPA Mar-27-2013

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

Or download directly from “How To Bootstrap” [ASLCPA Mar-27-2013] (MP3)”

It was a great audience and a lively discussion about bootstrapping. I am grateful to Mark Sheffield, CPA, of ASL for the invitation to speak and to Pete Tormey, co-moderator of the  San Francisco Bootstrapper Breakfast, and Michal Domanski, moderator of the Warsaw Bootstrapper Breakfast,  for reviewing and suggesting improvements to the talk.

I also want to thank to Colette Gonsalves (@coletteaundrea) for her live tweets from the event:

  • The key to bootstrapping: sweat equity, relationships, know how
  • Bootstrappers focus on what they don’t know to find their problems
  • Leverage expertise to focus on a niche, rather than the big market
  • Evaluate an opportunity: what is the problem & what do you bring that can create value solving it
  • Bootstrapping finance tip: live as cheaply as possible, delay gratification
  • From day 1 as a bootstrapper you’re in sales
  • Don’t keep giving a pitch that hasn’t worked. Learn why & change it
  • Revenue is the only real proof of market
  • Ask your target market who they’re using now cause you’ll have to differentiate from them
  • Bootstrappers don’t go all in – they make small investments in solving focused needs they can win & build on them

After the event I did a Founder’s Pit Crew interview with Mark Sheffield. The ASL Emerging Business Group also has a great New Business Startup Guide available as a PDF.


Update Fri-Apr-5: Thanks to some sound editing work by Steve Wasiura I have an updated MP3 that cleans a low hum from the file. Steve has a blog post about the talk with his notes at “How to Bootstrap Your Startup” on his blog. He writes:

Now I understand your quote from the March 2013 roundup:

“Nothing clears up a case so much as stating it to another person.”
Arthur Conan Doyle

by turning my notes into a blog post, I understood the lessons better.

Communicating Complex Concepts in Video: Luxr’s 5 Whys Video

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy, Video

Luxr has produced a clever encapsulation of the 5 Whys methodology, a technique for persistently probing the symptoms to find the root cause of a problem. Compared to several other “5 Whys” videos YouTube steered me to after I viewed this one I was struck by how practical and tactical Luxr’s explanation was. It communicated the concepts in way that even process averse startup folks could immediately engage with.

I transcribed the script below because I think there are several things to appreciate about it:

  • They take a real situation that anyone can relate to. It’s a clever encapsulation of how a startup might stumble over a problem and use 5 Whys to get to root cause.
  • They show the real way that the technique would be applied which is as a sequence of conversations as you peel the onion to determine who to talk to next.
  • They never talk down to the audience and incorporate a lot of sly humor about what’s really involved in working in a startup.
  • They enact a tiny drama to illustrate the method instead of using a talking head or slides.
  • My unofficial transcript runs about 350 words and doesn’t capture about half of what’s going on (e.g. subtitles, some stage directions, some camera angle decisions, shot by shot breakdown). The video is about 75 seconds long. This is very dense compared to common “talking head videos” used to walk through 5 Whys. But the density keeps it interesting and communicates a lot more than you first realize.

Unofficial transcript:

  1. Narrator: “Startups are works of focus, determination, and love. But all startups will eventually run into catastrophic, emotionally gut-wrenching problems.”
  2. Kate, an overworked startup entrepreneur discovers the coffee pot is empty and asks a co-worker, “Jason, why is there no coffee?” Jason replies, “Because no one refilled it.”
  3. Jason approaches Jeana and asks, “Jeana, how come nobody refilled the coffee pot?” Gina replies, “Because there are no filters.”
  4. Gina then confronts Melissa, “Why are there no filters?” Melissa answers, “Because nobody bought any.”
  5. A zoom in on the bathroom door shows a blue sticky note labeled “weekly shopping list” surrounded by yellow ones labeled: sticky notes, granola bits, tea, sharpies, beer, and “$1,000,000 in funding.”
  6. Melissa approaches Janice and asks, “Janice, why did nobody buy any more filters?” Janice speculates, “I don’t think anybody knew we were out.”
  7. Janice comes full circle to Kate, “Kate, why didn’t anybody know we were out of coffee filters.”
  8. Kate pivots to the camera and summons her inner John Moschitta to speed talk her way through this analysis: “Because there was no way to tell that we were running low before we ran out so that we could prioritize buying more.”
  9. The voice and hands of the Narrator return: “Instead of fixing a symptom by buying a ton of coffee filters or casting blame on the heaviest coffee consumers, the “Five Whys” helped us to devise a system to solve our problems with a simple sticky note.”
  10. His hands flip through a stack of coffee filters and affix a sticky–the hand to hand weapon of choice for all UX designers–labeled “Buy More Filters” to a filter about 1/4 of the way from the bottom.
  11. In the final scene the narrator rushes into a unisex bathroom next to the coffee pot and closes the door, only to lament, “Hey, why is there no toilet paper?”

The point about saving money with a sticky over ordering a lot of filters was an approach that bootstrappers could appreciate. The ending brought a smile to my face and reminded me of  Van Vleck’s three question extension to complement root cause analysis:

  1. Is this mistake somewhere else also?
    Look for other places in the code where the same pattern applies. Vary the pattern systematically to look for similar bugs.
  2. What next bug is hidden behind this one?
    Once you figure out how to fix the bug, you need to imagine what will happen once you fix it.
  3. What should I do to prevent bugs like this?
    Ask how you can change your ways to make this kind of bug impossible by definition. By changing methods or tools, it’s often possible to completely eliminate a whole class of failures instead of shooting the bugs down one by one. The bug may be a symptom of communication problems in the programming team, or of conflicting design assumptions which need discussion.

Update Fri-Mar-22: You can subscribe to the LUXr Newsletter for startup tips and videos. Luxr has posted a revised version at http://youtu.be/NBrFCHtoPRY

Mark Stiving: Three Pricing Principles I Confirmed In Las Vegas

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy, Video

Mark Stiving is a serial entrepreneur and a pricing expert. In this video he tells the story of being mistaken for a lost lamb by a shepherdess in Las Vegas after being screwed by a cab driver. He uses her business model to illustrate three important pricing principles:

  1. Know Your Value
  2. Segment Your Market
  3. Offer a Portfolio of Products

To get the full impact you should hear him tell it:

Mark is offering a “Pricing For Entrepreneurs” workshop on Mar-30 at Plug & Play in Sunnyvale. that will address a number of pricing questions that come up regularly at Bootstrapper Breakfasts:

  • How Customers Think About Price And Value
  • Value Based Pricing vs. Cost Based Pricing
  • Pricing Strategy vs. Product Strategy vs. Corporate Strategy
  • Price Segmentation vs. Market Segmentation

When:  Saturday, March 30 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Where:  Plug and Play – 440 N. Wolfe Road, Sunnyvale, CA 94085
Sign-up: http://markstiving.com/pricing-for-entrepreneurs/
Cost: $1,000 (use  “Bootstrapper” for 25% discount)

What Silicon Valley Can Learn From Grand Rapids

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

In 2011 Newsweek magazine listed Grand Rapids Michigan in the top ten of “America’s Dying Cities.”

Total Population (2009): 193,710
Proportion Under 18 (2009): 24.8%
Change in Total Population (2000-2009): -2.1%
Change in Residents Under 18 (2000-2009): -2.2 percentage points

It was actually syndicated content from Mainstreet’s “America’s Dying Cities” where they noted in “Grand Rapids Responds To our Dying Cities Ranking

The rankings of our original article were based on two criteria: changes to the overall population of every U.S. city in the past decade with at least 100,000 residents, and the decline in population of residents 18 and under, both of which were based on census data.

Rob Bliss, Director & Executive Producer (Rob Bliss Events) comments on YouTube page for video

“The Grand Rapids LipDub Video was filmed May 22nd, with 5,000 people, and involved a major shutdown of downtown Grand Rapids, which was filled with marching bands, parades, weddings, motorcades, bridges on fire, and helicopter take offs. It is the largest and longest LipDub video, to date.

This video was created as an official response to the Newsweek article calling Grand Rapids a “dying city.” We disagreed strongly, and wanted to create a video that encompasses the passion and energy we all feel is growing exponentially, in this great city. We felt Don McLean’s “American Pie,” a song about death, was in the end, triumphant and filled to the brim with life and hope.”

What can Silicon Valley learn from Grand Rapids? The value of encouraging the heart.

The Heart That Holds On

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

“…cheer up that little heart of yours, master mine, for at the present moment you seem to have got one no bigger than a hazel nut; remember what they say, that a stout heart breaks bad luck…”

Sancho Panza advises Don Quixote to cheer up in Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote (emphasis added)

The entrepreneurs I have come to see as truly successful are those who are motivated to make a positive difference in the world. You can have a job in a startup, you can become an entrepreneur as a lifestyle choice, you can pursue a career in the VC ecosystem, but I think that entrepreneurship is more properly viewed as a vocation or a calling.

Their desire to effect meaningful change is what sustains entrepreneurs on the emotional roller coaster of a new business and allow them to adjust their means and their goals to take advantage of new information and new opportunities. Working so that one day you can tell everyone to get lost seems unsustainable to me. I think you start from where you are with what you have available to create new value, pulled forward by a vision of what’s possible that you want to help create and take part in.

I don’t think entrepreneurship is sustained by consumption fantasies–what you will buy with your first million–as much as by what’s in your heart and a childlike curiosity toward how the world works and new undiscovered possibilities.

One movie that looks at the spiritual aspects of entrepreneurship in a very down to earth and thoughtful way is “The Call of the Entrepreneur.” It’s available from the Acton Institute and on Amazon:

Here is the trailer:

E. L. Doctorow once said that “writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard.

from Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott

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:

Charles Minnich of Hyland Software on “Great Demo!” Workshop

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Demos, Events, skmurphy, Testimonial, Video

Here is a brief testimonial from Charles Minnich of Hyland Software after he attended our Great Demo workshop in September of 2010.

For more testimonial videos see Peter Cohan’s YouTube Channel. We are offering another Great Demo Workshop October 12 in San Jose:

Create and Deliver Surprisingly Compelling Software Demonstrations
“Do The Last Thing First” — the recipe for a Great Demo!

When: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 8 am – 5 pm
Where: Moorpark Hotel, 4241 Moorpark Ave, San Jose CA 95129
For out of town attendees: The Moorpark is located 400 feet from the Saratoga Ave exit on Hwy 280, about 7 miles from San Jose Airport and 35 miles from San Francisco Airport

Cost: $590
Before Sept. 28: $566

This is an interactive workshop with Peter Cohan geared especially for you who demonstrate B-to-B software to your customer and channels. Bring a copy of your demo and be prepared to present it — we’ll help you turn it into a surprisingly compelling demo!

Register Great Demo

This seminar outlines a framework for the creation and delivery of improved demos and presentations to enable increased success in the marketing, sale, and deployment of software and related products. Whether it’s face to face, in a webinar, as a screencast, or as a self-running demo the ability to present the key benefits of your software product is essential to generating prospect interest and ultimately revenue. Peter Cohan of The Second Derivative gives us the recipe for a Great Demo!

For more information see:

Len Sklar: Be Clear About Payment Terms And Consequences

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, Consulting Business, Rules of Thumb, skmurphy, Video

Len Sklar, author “The Check is NOT in the Mail“  has spoken several times at Bootstrapper Breakfasts.  Here is a recent talk he gave where he stresses the importance of putting payments terms and the consequences on non-payment in writing, and communicating them in advance, and ensuring that they are understood.

It all seems so obvious but have you actually done this?

Adrian Perez on Great Demo Workshop

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Demos, skmurphy, Video, Workshop

Here is a brief testimonial from Adrian Perez (@adrian_perez) after he attended our Great Demo workshop in September of 2010.

Create and Deliver Surprisingly Compelling Software Demonstrations
“Do The Last Thing First” — the recipe for a Great Demo!

When: Tuesday, April 12, 2010 8 am to 5 pm
Where: Moorpark Hotel, 4241 Moorpark Ave, San Jose CA 95129

Cost: $590
Before March 28: $566

This is an interactive workshop with Peter Cohan geared especially for you who demonstrate B-to-B software to your customer and channels. Bring a copy of your demo and be prepared to present it–we’ll help you turn it into a surprisingly compelling demo!

Register Great Demo

Scope and Scale of Plans and Activities

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, Audio, Rules of Thumb, skmurphy, Video

Source: Powers of Ten (which was inspired by “Cosmic View: The Universe in 40 Jumps” by Kees Boeke)

I remember watching this film in high school and having it change my perspective. I thought I would try and look at not distances but durations in the context of planning tasks and individual (and organizational) objectives. I set one hour as the zero point and looked at a factor of 10,000 in either direction. The yellow background cells are the powers of ten, the blue hold other durations that I thought should be included for “human scale” activities.

Power
of 10
Duration Human Scale / Meaning Flow/Plan
-5 0.03 seconds Subliminal Perception Flow
-4 0.3 seconds Keystroke Flow
-3 3 seconds Read a headline or a tweet Flow/Habit
-3 to -2 Other useful durations in seconds: 10, 15, 20
-2 30 seconds a very small task Flow/Habit/Checklist
-2 to -1 Other useful durations: 1 minute, 90 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes
-1 6 minutes a small task Flow/Plan/Checklist
-1 to 0 Other useful durations in minutes: 10, 15, 20, and 30
0 1 hour a medium task Flow/Plan/Checklist
0 to 1 Other useful durations: 90 minutes, 2 hours, 4 hours
1 10 hours one day’s work Flow/Plan
1 to 2 Other useful durations: 2 days, one week
2 100 hours two weeks or a fortnight Plan
2 to 3 Other useful durations: one month, one quarter (13 weeks), six months, nine months
3 1,000 hours 20 weeks (no natural analog) Mission/Plan
2 to 3 Other useful durations: one year, 18 months, two years
4 10,000 hours 4 years – a career at one company
a high school or  college education
enough deliberate practice to develop expertise
Mission
5 100,000 hours 40 years – a career Mission

I think the time scales break down into five overlapping domains:

  • Mission: significant accomplishments that require sustained effort over a long period of time.
  • Plan/Strategy:  objectives that require a written plan that is revised in response to results to accomplish.
  • Flow/Proficiency: short term objective that can be accomplished as the result of a single concentrated effort, the plan can essentially be kept in your head, and one outcome is often learning and increased proficiency.
  • Habit: an action that is done autonomously and often without conscious awareness or control.
  • Checklist:  a sequence of actions that may overload short term memory or is executed under significant time pressure or with high risk of failure. Normally written down to ensure compliance.

There are also recurring cycles that are not accounted for that can trigger habits or team or organizational actions

  • Hourly
  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • Quarterly
  • Yearly

This is an attempt to map out project and process duration as well as task length and an individual’s ability to remain in flow. Whether you are planning a meeting, your day, a project, a startup, or your life, time is the single irreplaceable resource. Understanding how different durations stack and recur in cycles is part of that.

Chalk Talk on Technology Adoption

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, Customer Development, skmurphy, Video

I did this with the DreamSimplicity folks last month. It’s a chart I have been drawing in various customer meetings for the last several years or so and they thought it would make for a good short video. The challenge was lighting the whiteboard appropriately.  I think it came out well.

I welcome any feedback or suggestions for other topics.  A transcript for the talk follows:

I want to talk to you today about some of the challenges you may be facing with technology adoption.  With getting users to try and adopt your technology.  So in this chalk talk, I want to talk about how you get customers to try out your technology and use it.

Let’s assume that this is your prospect’s status quo.  And this way is the way they want to go.  This is more profitability.  This is more productivity.  General goodness.  With your solution,  you should be able to move them to a higher level of performance, higher level of profitability.  This difference is the benefit you’re promising.

So the question you’re really trying to figure out is, based on an analysis of where they are, is this where they’d like to be?  The most likely answer, optimistically, is yes.  In fact, “How do we get there? How do I get this into production?  How long it take?  What’s involved?”

So, one transition curve might look something like this.  Where they have to invest time, people time, focus, dollars.  And that takes away from their current status quo.  But that investment transforms the way they’re working to allow them to get to this higher level of performance.

However, when they look at this chart, when they hear this story from you, they make a couple of adjustments in terms of how they calculate this.  First of all, they assume that the costs are actually going to be higher, usually a little worse than you’re talking about.  Secondly, they assume that the benefits are not going to be as high.  So when they do a cost benefit calculation, they may come in at half or a third of what you’re promising them.  Your temptation is to attack this by adding more features, by doing more for them, by essentially promising them a higher level of benefit.  Say, “Well, what if we could do this for you?”  Right?

The problem with that is that your transition now looks like this.   There’s actually more cost involved. A bigger problem with this is that the time to get back to status quo has now been lengthened.  And as long they’re below this line they’ve made themselves worse off.  They put themselves at risk.  They put their careers at risk in larger companies.  This is a proxy for the amount of risk in decision to work with you.  And so what you’ve done is, you may not have substantially affected the cost benefit ratio but, you clearly added to the risk.  If Plan A was not acceptable, this new plan is probably less acceptable.

So let’s take another approach.  Let’s look at a different way to solve this problem.

So here’s our old friend, the prospect’s status quo.  They’re still trying to go up.  Still trying to get to this benefit that you promised them.  And here was the plan that you proposed.  Instead, break it up into phases.  Now, we’ve got smaller amount of cost.  They can look at this first transition and maybe this is just what you can do for them in two hours.   Maybe you can come in, take some data that’s readily available, and demonstrate a benefit.  Now they can judge the total curve by what you are able to do in a smaller amount of time.  Maybe this is a pilot project, maybe this is more than two hours, but this is not a bad approach.

Now, all they’ve got to bet is a small amount of risk.  See if they get somewhere near where you promised them.  If that works, they’ll likely take step two and step three.   So you’ve got an easy way to get them to move up and, they are more likely to take the first step.  Once they take the first step, if what you’ve told them is true, they’re more likely to move up.  So think about breaking up transition plans into three to five phases.

So we’ve talked a little bit today about how do you look at the technology adoption problem.   This is where we spend most of our time with clients.  We help them find early customers and early revenue.

This has been Sean Murphy from SKMurphy.  Thank you very much.

Keep on Walking

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Founder Story, skmurphy, Video

My brother told me about “The Man Who Walked Around the World,” a 2009 long form commercial for Johnnie Walker that stars Robert Carlyle in a six minute single take.  I am not a scotch drinker but I found Carlyle’s delivery of story of the entrepreneurial Walker family very inspiring.  In particular I liked this line:

And because there is nothing like a commercial proposition to stir the Scottish heart it quickly grew into an industry, filled with ambitious entrepreneur distillers.

Go ahead, watch the whole thing:

It really is a single take according to an interview with director Jamie Rafn:

How many takes did you have to do to get the whole thing perfect?
The take that you have seen is the very last take we did at 8pm on the last day of the shoot. Take 40. The tension as we watched Robert do this take was unbelievable. It was such a good take at every stage and so the longer it went on without any fluffs the greater the pressure grew for nothing to go wrong. When he got to the end and I got to call cut there was this huge roar and applause from the crew and agency and I knew we had it.

Where was the film shot and what did the location add to the film?
It was shot near Loch Doyne in Scotland. The landscape is a huge part of it. It’s like another character. Its hauntingly beautiful up there and we were blessed with these lovely clouds that gave us this really lovely brooding look.

What was the most challenging element of the job?
By 5pm on day one we hadn’t managed to do one complete take. We therefore had nothing. We soon worked out that the reason for this was the huge bank of TV’s which we’d placed 2 meters in the wrong position. Robert was having to slow down his walking and speed up his talking in a way that was artificial and was throwing him. There was nothing we could do but rebuild the TV’s which meant wrapping and staring again the next day having achieved nothing on the first day. The following morning there were a lot of anxious faces and murmurings of “fixing it in post”. Then Robert turned up and did the very first take of the day in one. As I said – the man’s a genius.

DreamSimplicity Interviews Sean Murphy

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, skmurphy, Video

I was recently interviewed by Floyd Tucker of DreamSimplicity Marketplace and the interview can be seen below and on DreamSimplicity.com. We talk about how even though each startup team is unique, they have a common set of milestones they have to achieve to move from idea to revenue. We also chat briefly about the Bootstrapper Breakfast.

Headquartered in San Francisco, DreamSimplicity has been conducting video interviews for public and private companies since 2008, producing high-quality executive interviews, customer testimonials and conference coverage videos. DreamSimplicity interviews offer SaaS and Sales 2.0 clients a platform to discuss their recent news announcements, and gather greater social buzz for their corporate story through a number of innovative web video outlets.

DreamSimplicity is an innovative producer of High Definition Web Video for emerging web-based technology organizations: they write, coach, direct and produce as needed.

  • Executive Interviews
  • Conference Events & Expo Hall Booth Coverage
  • Customer Testimonials
  • Thought Leader & Executive Videos
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Update July 22: A transcript for this interview is now available.

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