Larry Smith: Fail Fast, Fail Often, and Die

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, Design of Experiments, skmurphy, Video

Larry Smith is an Economics Professor of Economics at the University of Waterloo who writes and lectures on Entrepreneurship, innovation, and Technology markets. What follows is part of a conversation he had with Alan Quarry in the AQ’s Blog & Grill series of interviews with entrepreneurs. His key point, that he makes in a somewhat cranky fashion, is that technology entrepreneurship is a complex undertaking that requires patience, careful analysis, and planning.

Webinar Replay: You Need to Be a Little Crazy

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, Books, skmurphy, Video

This is a webinar replay that was recorded on Wednesday, June 8, 2011 with Massimo Paolini, Miles Kehoe, Dorai Thodla, and Sean Murphy discussing Barry Moltz‘s “You Need to Be a Little Crazy: The Truth about Starting and Growing Your Business.” They share how they personally found the courage to start their businesses and their desire to make “working for yourself” mean not only a better job but building equity.

Simon Sinek: Why Leaders Eat Last

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 5 Scaling Up Stage, skmurphy, Video

I remember first learning the principle “leaders eat last” from John K. Russell, an advisor on a summer Presbyterian workcamp in Westpoint Mississippi. He had been an officer in the Army and talked about how the officers had nicer silverware and napkins but it was the same food and they ate after the enlisted men. Simon Sinek uses that principle as a point of departure–leadership as a combination of higher status and service. His description of leadership reminded of Goethe’s maxim “A man is really alive only when he delights in the good-will of others.”

Here are some of my key take-aways from this talk:

Webinar Replay: Innovator’s DNA Associating Skill

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, Books, Customer Development, Video

Panel sessions Feb 22, 2012 on Innovator’s DNA Skill #1 Associating. Terry Frazier of Cognovis, Steve Hogan of Tech-Rx, and Sean Murphy of SKMurphy. Part of the Book Club For Business Impact covered lessons learned applying a number of techniques for associating from chapter 2 of the “Innovator’s DNA” by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton Christensen.

Webinar Replay: Innovator’s DNA Series Overview

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, Books, Customer Development, Video

Steve Hogan and Sean Murphy walk through a five part webinar series on “The Innovator’s DNA” by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen,and Clayton Christensen. Sean thinks it’s the best book on innovation and entrepreneurship for 2011 and useful for any team that is trying to innovate. Each webinar will be in a roundtable format and include first time entrepreneurs and experienced innovators discussing lessons learned applying the five key discovery skills described in the book.

Entrepreneurship As A Calling

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, skmurphy, Startups, Video

A documentary on entrepreneurship as a calling that I found very compelling was “The Call of the Entrepreneur” produced by the Acton Institute. It addresses both practical and spiritual aspects of entrepreneurship from the point of view of three very different entrepreneurs:

  • Brad Morgan, a dairy farmer in Evart, Michigan who transforms a failing farm into a successful dairy and compost company.
  • Frank Hanna, a merchant banker in New York City who explains how entrepreneurship transforms the economy into a positive sum game.
  • Jimmy Lai who grew up in Communist China and then Hong Kong, emigrating to New York to found retail and media companies.

Chris Yonge on 3D Printing: Past, Present, Future

Written by Max Murphy. Posted in Events, Video

The following is a guest post by Max Murphy, a mechanical engineering student who is interested in the implications of  3D printing or positive manufacturing for  mechanical design, its synergies with animation, and potential for fostering new opportunities for entrepreneurs. Max is an intern at DreamWorks and returns to his sophomore year in college this fall. 

3D Printing: Past, Present, and Future

I attended a great talk by Chris Yonge on “3D Printing: Past, Present, and Future” on Monday August 18 at Sandbox Suites in Sunnyvale that was sponsored by the Silicon Valley Startup: Idea to IPO group. It was a fantastic presentation that communicated a practical understanding of several different types of 3D printing processes with videos that highlighted the theory of operation for each type of printer. Chris also offered a list of useful open source tools for mechanical design, animation, and 3D printing that is available at

Here is Chris’ bio from the talk (links added):

Chris Yonge is qualified as an architect and a product designer who founded StudioCruz.  He has been involved in 3D design and production for twenty years. He holds a number of published patents, the latest being for VariCruz a mechanically-linked continuously variable gear, and uses 3D printing in metal and plastics as part of the development process. Chris is a lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz School of Engineering.

Unfortunately a recording was not made of the talk but here are two others he has done that are quite good.

3D Printing Is Fostering Four Quiet Revolutions

Yonge outlines “four quiet revolutions” that 3D printing or positive manufacturing will likely bring about:

  1. How we make:  Machine shop equipment was traditionally subtractive: grinding, cutting, drilling based on linear or rotary motion.
  2. How we design:  Three-dimensional printing is enabling us to go from a three-dimensional model in my mind to recording it and communicating and editing it on a computer and then making it.
  3. How we communicate:  One of the oldest cave drawings known condenses three dimensions plus time (and related emotions) into a flat two dimensional drawing. Our ability to communicate was unchanged for 149 centuries until motion pictures added time, 3D computer models allowed for a third dimension, and now we can make what we visualize with 3D printing.
  4. How we finance:  Open source recipes are going unlock a tremendous amount of creativity. Kickstarter models will enable many new products and companies to be launched via crowdsourcing.

Animation & 3D Printing Add New Dimensions to Creativity

A video with synchronized slides of one his Santa Cruz Engineering lectures is available at

Chris Yonge has a YouTube Channel with more than 50 videos at

Related Blog Posts


An Entrepreneur Is A Change Agent

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, skmurphy, Video

I like this 2009 video by Grasshopper “Entrepreneurs Can Change The World” that portrays the entrepreneur as a change agent and celebrates the freedom and economic opportunities that America has traditionally offered immigrants.

Here is the transcript from the Grasshopper site with some observations interspersed

Do you remember when you were a kid and you thought you could do anything? You still can. Because a lot of what we consider impossible is easy to overcome. Because in case you haven’t noticed, we live in a place where one individual can make a difference.

Want proof? Just look at the people who built our country: our parents, grandparents, our aunts, uncles. They were immigrants, newcomers ready to make their mark. Maybe they came with very little, or perhaps they didn’t own anything except for a single brilliant idea.

These people were thinkers, doers, innovators until they came up with the name entrepreneurs. They change the way we think about what is possible. They have a clear vision of how life can be better for all of us, even when times are tough.

The ability to look at a situation with “newcomer’s eyes” is a key element to unlocking creativity. So is time pressure and limited resources.

Right now, it’s hard to see when our view is cluttered with obstacles, but turbulence creates opportunities for success, achievement and pushes us to discover new ways of doing things.

So what opportunities will you go after and why?

If you’re an entrepreneur, you know that risk isn’t the reward. No. The rewards are driving innovation, changing people’s lives, creating jobs, fueling growth, and making a better world.

Entrepreneurs are everywhere. They run small businesses that support our economy, design tools to help you stay connected with friends, family, and colleagues around the world, and they’re finding new ways of helping to solve society’s oldest problems.

Successful innovation results when entrepreneurs manage their own shortcomings,  find a  problem they care about, and approach it from different angles with small safe-to-fail experiments.

Do you know an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurs can be anyone, even you. So seize the opportunity to create the job you always wanted. Help heal the economy. Make a difference. Take your business to new heights.

But most importantly, remember when you were a kid, when everything was within your reach, and then say to yourself quietly, but with determination: It still is.

I have come to the conclusion that most entrepreneurial careers are involuntary, undertaken by “mavericks, iconoclasts, dropouts, and misfits” to quote Sramana Mitra. The trick is to minimize the amount of wasted effort by doing less with less in a way that builds on existing relationships, knowledge, and successes.

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The soundtrack to the video is “Chain Reaction” by Carly Comando; she also composed  “Everyday” for Noah Kalina’s “Noah takes a photo of himself every day for 6 years.

Discovery Kanban Allows Firms to Balance Delivery and Discovery

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 5 Scaling Up Stage, Design of Experiments, Video

I believe that Patrick Steyaert’s Discovery Kanban offers a critical perspective on how large organizations can foster the proliferation of lean innovation methods beyond isolated spike efforts or innovation colonies.

I think Patrick Steyaert has come up with an approach that builds on what we have learned from customer development and Lean Startup and offers an orchestration mechanism for fostering innovation and operational excellence. I think  this will prove to be a dynamic approach to managing innovation that will be as significant as:

  • Saras Sarasvathy’s Effectual Entrepreneurship Model
  • Clayton Christensen Innovator’s Dilemma and Innovator’s DNA
  • Ron Adner’s Wide Lens

I believe it’s going to become part of the canon of accepted principles of innovation because it offers not only a way to frame the challenge of balancing discovery and delivery, but a mechanism for planning and managing them in parallel.

Discovery Kanban is a synthesis of a number of distinct threads of entrepreneurial thinking–Lean Startup, Kanban, OODA, PCDA, and Optionality–into an approach that helps firms address the challenge  of executing and refining proven business models in parallel with exploring options for novel business opportunities. The reality is that you have to manage both current execution and the exploration of future options whether you are in a startup that is gaining traction and needs to develop operational excellence (or an innovation colony that now wants to influence the existing enterprise) or and enterprise that needs to avoid the “Monkey Trap” of escalating investment in a business model that is reaching the end of life instead of parallel exploration of a number of options for new business units.

At the extremes startups are viewed as scout vehicles–suitable for exploration to find sustainable business models–and established enterprises are viewed railroads, very good at moving a lot of cargo or passengers along predetermined paths. The reality is that almost all businesses need to manage both excellence in execution while not only keeping a weather eye on new entrants fueled by emerging technologies and disruptive business models but also exploring for adjacent markets that can leverage their established competencies and new competencies required by current customers.The Lean Startup and Customer Development models have fostered a broad understanding of the need for iteration and hypothesis driven product probes. Kanban models have shown the value of making work visible to enable the shared understanding that makes cultural change possible.

Kent Beck and Don Reinertsen on Value of Storytelling

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

What follows is an exchange on twitter between Kent Beck and Don Reinertsen on Dec 12-2013 about their experiences as speakers at the Lean Startup Conference 2013 that I thought was worth preserving.

Kent Beck and Don Reinertsen on Value of Storytelling

Kent Beck (@KentBeck) Dec 12: The beauty of teaching through storytelling is that the listeners’ lessons aren’t limited by the storyteller’s imagination.

Donald Reinertsen (@DReinertsen) Dec 12: And, as in the old story of a donkey carrying a load of books, the payload can sometimes be more sophisticated than the narrator.

Kent Beck (@KentBeck) Dec 12: Good thing I don’t mind being a donkey :)

Donald Reinertsen (@DReinertsen) Dec 12: I rather enjoy it. Such moments permit one to unintentionally deliver an unexpected, and unreasonable, amount of value.

I did a roundup of speakers, videos, and blog posts from the Lean Startup 2013 if you are interested in learning more about their presentations or others.

Don Reinertsen Presentations

Don Reinertsen also has a number of good presentations up at InfoQ a “Beyond Deming” video at Lean Product Development Flow.  Here is his talk from Lean Startup 2013:

Kent Beck’s talk from Lean Startup 2013:

Related Blog Posts

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.

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

Lisa Solomon says that an effective meeting can do one–and only one–of 3 things: build a common understanding, or generate options or make decisions. In this talk on “Designing Time: Make Meaning” she elaborates on this and challenges the person calling the meeting to work backward from the end of the meeting and define: what has happened as a result of this conversation and what use was delivered to each participant.

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