End the Year with Our Favorite Talks of 2015

We love hearing about all the different ways that people are internalizing Lean Startup principles. Eric Ries’ scientific approach continues to embolden a global community of thought leaders, many of whom we heard from at this year’s Lean Startup Conference.

Before we give 2015 a rest, we’re looking back at the powerful talks that our conference attendees told us they loved most. So regardless of whether you were able to make our big event, we have eight important and entertaining bits of workplace wisdom to share.

1. The Modest Experiments That Became Huge Companies

Know this: Successful companies start by focusing on small target communities and growing their MVP from there.

Laura Klein’s (Users Know) lightning tips talk spotlights the small-scale experiments that today’s big tech darlings crafted on their way to global domination. Examples include focusing on problems affecting a core group of users (Facebook), building an internal tool whose effectiveness could be calibrated in real time (Slack), testing assumptions locally before scaling those ideas globally (Airbnb), and creating a product manually before getting into automation (Product Hunt).

2. The 10 Keys to Building a Strong Community

Know this: Sending your users personal emails, memorable swag, and other messages that they’re important keeps them involved with your brand.

Speaking of Product Hunt, founder Ryan Hoover knows how to stoke and support a rabid fanbase, and he has great advice for growing a community of your own. Highlights include seeding that initial base and personally welcoming new users, recognizing both good behaviors and the bad actors, and sharing mockups of redesign concepts with your users. “You’re changing their home,” he says of the importance of design transparency, “so you want to make them feel like they’re part of the design process.”

3. How to Intentionally Design a Lean Startup Culture

Know this: Map out the right kind of culture for your business with this cool new tool.

Strategyzer’s Alexander Osterwalder understands that the belief systems, attitudes, and values held by employees directly affect the products a company creates. He’s part of the team behind The Culture Map, which helps organizations intentionally shape the purveying ethos in an office. He shows us how to use this tool to design a Lean Startup culture.

4. Testing the Riskiest Assumptions First

Know this: Build stronger startups by testing the assumptions that could topple your business before you tackle the easy stuff.

Gagan Biyani has been involved with renowned startups Udemy, Lyft, and Sprig, companies that maintain their singular missions while changing what they’ve created over time. He shares the specific Lean Startup practices that’ve made these organizations so successful, including strategizing creative ways to solve customer problems and untethering your ego from the products your company creates.

5. Applying Lean Startup to Storytelling

Know this: Savvy movie producers and fiction publishers alike are crafting tighter audience feedback loops that allow them to edit their way to big hits.

There’s nothing Lean Startup about the typical Hollywood blockbuster. As Telepathic’s Prerna Gupta explains, studios generally sink hundreds of millions of dollars into a production and hope they have a hit on their hands. But there are ways to use data and audience feedback to create more compelling movies – and books – while keeping the artistic process intact. Gupta explains how to fine-tune both our storytelling methods and the business models supporting them, through examples ranging from The Martian to her company’s innovative text message YA novels.

6. Spreading Intrapreneurship Across an Organization

Know this: Instigate genuine innovation in your organization by creating a model for intrepreneurship that empowers people in all levels of the company to build and test new ideas.

So you’ve become your company’s innovation evangelist – how do you go from being a singular force to incentivizing widespread change? Intuit’s Bennett Blank breaks down the steps through which Lean Startup practices moved through his company, such as allowing coworkers to make these practices their own and giving people a safe space in which to test out new ideas.

7. The Playbook for Creating Product Market Fit

Know this: Make sure the products your business creates are the ones your target customers really want by taking a page or two from the Lean Product Playbook.

Dan Olsen, author of The Lean Product Playbook, takes us through the methodology behind his book, which includes determining the underserved needs of your specific customer base and creating a strong value proposition and MVP.

8. Lean Startup, The Musical

Know this: Definitely the funniest interpretation of Lean Startup ideas that we’ve ever seen. Really, you’re just gonna have to watch this one. Especially if you’re a TLC fan.

We’d yet to get serenaded by stories of innovation until we met designer William McDonnell.

What’s Next in 2016

On that (ahem) note, there’s more cool stuff on the horizon for 2016: we’ll host our annual flagship conference in San Francisco, of course. Save the date for the Lean Startup Conference Week on November 1 – 7. It’s the one week in the year where you’ll strengthen your foundation of the Lean Startup methodology, learn advanced strategies and tactics for implementing Lean within your organization, and meet experts from your industry who are facing similar challenges. Early bird registration opens in January.

And if you can’t wait til Fall to see us, there’s our inaugural Lean Startup Labs series, which are industry-focused summits around the country. We’re starting with an enterprise lab in New York City in February; later in the year we’ll have summits in Detroit and New Orleans on startups and social good, respectively.