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Product/Project Discovery & Planning

Project Discovery & Planning / Lean Startup / Agile Development

This month's Meetup will be a Round Table discussion among all participants. A great opportunity to learn from each other.

Quick summary of key points for discussion:

  • How do you identify a minimum viable product? (Lean Startup / Lean Thinking approaches)
  • What tools, mental models, or workshop techniques do you use to learn and discover what you should be building?
  • Many of the questions below relate to Agile Development processes. Read through for a better idea of where the discussion will go.

We look forward to hearing about your experiences of what has worked and what has not.


The point at which you know least about a project, is at the beginning. How do you help your customer to know what they want? What tools, mental models, or workshop techniques do you use to learn and discover what you should be building? What skills do you need as an investigator? How do you identify a minimum viable product? What prototyping techniques do you use? How do you plan for iterative releases and set expectations for learning along the way?

Possible conversation topics could include:

* Defining product outcomes
* Investigation skills (conversation not interrogation)
* User profiling / personas
* What is a story?
* Story mapping
* Ready, really ready, really really ready stories
* Prototyping / wireframing
* Estimating
* Release roadmap

If anyone has any stories they can tell of where things have gone well, where things have gone not so well, lessons learned and advice or wants to share how they handle these things then this Meetup is for you.

Complimentary appetizers will be served at 5:45 pm.

Join or login to comment.

  • Daniel W.

    Thought this excerpt from Jim Highsmith's blog fits in here....

    "A Hudson Bay Company expedition would set out for months in the wilds of Canada—traveling mostly by canoe. To ensure nothing catastrophic had been forgotten, they would camp the first night or two within a short distance of their departure point. By setting up camp, cooking, and performing other camp activities, the group had a good chance to figure out if anything major had been forgotten. They could then hurry back and retrieve any forgotten items the next day. Also, because the preparation prior to departure was usually hectic, so they would gather that first evening out to discuss and review the purposes for the trip and details of how they planned to carry it out. They were exploring into uncertainty—and their plans. No matter how well they planned, the brief starts usually uncovered things that might have jeopardized the expedition."

    1 · April 24, 2014

    • Patrick Q.

      This reminds me of a similar strategy that we use heavily with customers--use language and concepts that are OUTSIDE of the software realm, in order to bridge communication gaps. Our favorite is using language from the building trades, which is universally understood. It's amazing how effective this is: "We started off talking about adding a powder room to your home, but now you're asking for a full master bath, with a jetted tub and a two-person shower with steam jets, and gold faucets."

      April 25, 2014

  • Daniel W.

    Had great fun tonight. Thanks Ron for keeping the wheels moving!

    2 · April 22, 2014

  • Marianne M.

    Sorry to miss this meeting, I have a conflict. Can we get any info on any "panelists" or key take-aways after this meeting?
    Or maybe just people to follow up on ideas? I'm not clear on how this will work will a large room of people.
    Thank you all.

    April 22, 2014

  • Dave B.

    Marianne -- as to whether they would use my "big idea?" I don't think they would directly. However they may ask one of my competitors to implement it for them. The "big idea" is mathematically tricky to implement, and I keep the how/methods very secret.

    There's always a risk sharing technology, but it is an necessary risk. Striking the right balance between reveling enough to maintain interest, but not so much as to give away the technology is something I struggle with on an almost daily basis.

    April 11, 2014

  • Dave B.

    Marianne -- They were interested in the product; they just didn't use the 3-D (multi-risk) contours feature.

    They kept feeding me data to run for weeks, and using the results. After 5-6 weeks, I realized that the beta (mutual benefit for both parties) had turned into free labor on my part.

    I then asked to "move forward from the beta relationship" (aka to start getting paid). There response was that it takes about 6 months of evaluations to qualify a product. That didn't fit my current biz strategy, so we stopped the beta at that point.

    That was another learning. Big business can pay big bucks, but takes too long to do so. Now I am targeting smaller broker/advisor companies of 100 employees or less. While they pay less, they often make quicker decisions.

    April 11, 2014

  • Marianne M.

    Dave -- I think you're saying Morgan Stanley was not interested in your software (Meh), after all the work you put into it, based upon their feedback. That's your point. Any concerns they would use your idea, though?

    April 11, 2014

  • Dave B.

    If only I had been familiar with the MVP concept when I started developing portfolio-optimization software (called HALO). I put 300 extra hours into a feature that I thought would be an industry game-changer. Then I had 2 beta engagements with Morgan Stanely. They wanted two improvements. One was Excel (.csv) read/write capability -- which I added in about 30 minutes. The other I was able to "bolt on" in less than a week.

    And the "game-changing" feature? "Meh", was approximately their response. I kind of wish I had those 300 hours back!

    April 11, 2014

  • Patrick Q.

    It's not quite ready yet (early summer is the plan), but, the new FirstBank at "main and main" will have a "meeting room in the basement open to the community."

    1 · March 28, 2014

  • Marianne M.

    You need a space for meetings, I don't know why this is changing.
    Anyway, I think this might be an option, though it is at Home Depot, they have a meeting room available.

    Home Depot
    Near LeMay and Mulberry Ave.
    1251 East Magnolia Street, Fort Collins, CO

    You'd have to check into it. Other places might be better such as restaurants in the area. I live in Loveland so I'm not knowledgable of all the options you have available.

    Marianne McGlynn

    August 28, 2013

  • Keri K.

    Let me know if you need a venue. Triple Crown can help.

    August 21, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    sounds painfully useful!

    April 22, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi, Is this a different event than the Workflow Tools event and if so are there any thoughts about when and where it will be?

    September 18, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great topic. I've been playing around with Pivotal Tracker - which is modeled around stories, iterations, etc.. very powerful. Now I just need to assemble a knowledgable team to get it all done!

    September 14, 2012

  • Dr. Neal K.

    MVP? Really? Be prepared to debate that as a goal, because I have had very bad experiences when projects start by defining MVP. We start with the most desirable solution, then remove features until we have something acceptable. But the minimum acceptable product is still more than the MVP. Aiming for MVP or beginning with MVP is nothing more than a race to the bottom.

    September 13, 2012

    • Bill T.

      I like the TRIZ methodology that tries to start with the ideal solution. Having the problems being solved specified helps immensely. The F-16 design problem and the slow Eurotrain show that pulling out the real issues for the customer is a real effort saver. Of course, the above examples are hardware... but I think asking why? five times is always a good start in product development ;)

      1 · September 14, 2012

    • Daniel W.

      I really enjoy seeing the customer's reaction to the repeated why, why, why questions.

      September 14, 2012

  • Bill T.

    I'd like to understand if that 6 thinking hats, or TRIZ ideas would help here.

    September 14, 2012

  • Peter W.

    I can add product management expertise to this discussion.

    September 13, 2012

  • Bruce B.

    I've been in an intense study of Lean Thinking throughout all of 2012 and am launching a product this winter inside the conceptual Lean Canvas framework so always ready to hear and share more w/ others interested in this approach....

    September 13, 2012

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