After three days of keynotes, workshops and networking, we caught up with a few attendees of the first Lean Startup Co. Virtual Summit: Enterprise Edition to see what stuck. They told us how the Summit added to their understanding of Lean Startup methodology and what they took away from their time with our speakers, workshop leaders, and fellow participants. Each of them was there for different reasons, but they all had insightful things to say about what they learned and where they’re taking that knowledge.
Steven Sherman, a venture lead at Ford X, Ford Motor Company’s venture incubator team, has been “a long-time fan and practitioner” of the Lean Startup. He attended the Summit to learn more about “how to get these principles more ingrained at the decision-making and leadership level of our organization” to help the company reach its full innovation potential. Hearing from speakers like Keith Berry of Moody’s and Chris Boeckerman of P&G provided him with real-world examples and evidence of how Lean Startup can be implemented, as well as confirmation of “the need for leadership buy-in and having a clearly defined decision-making framework on how ventures are greenlit and how funding is evaluated and metered.” He adds that, “It was refreshing to see that this actually can be done in a large organization.”
A similar energy was noted by Javier Moreno of Tetra Pak. “I loved not only the things that were being communicated, but also the essence that you saw throughout the Summit. It made me, on a personal level, realize that Lean Startup is something that is very close to me.” He does innovation for customers in the Americas, including products, strategy and communications. Attending workshops on crafting your innovation strategy, using growth boards to manage your innovation portfolio, and building effective lean startup teams, he found real pragmatic advice combined with camaraderie. He was deeply engaged not just with the ideas but “the templates, especially for strategy. I saw a lot of applications, and they made me think about different ways to solve things and create a portfolio of solutions.” Connecting with other people working to bring Lean Startup into their organizations gave him a real boost as well. “It gave me a lot of inspiration being able to interact with other people to see what they think, and just to meet them and to have these conversations.”
One of our own also attended the Summit. Marrissa Hohman, the newest addition to the Lean Startup Co. team, added to her understanding of one of the fundamental truths about innovation. “What was really fascinating for me coming into this job, and something I was really excited for,” she explains, “is that every week it’s a different team from a different industry, doing a different product. It’s never the same thing, and there’s so many variables, but each team can instantly have a lot of the same problems.” She particularly enjoyed Chris Boeckerman’s point, born of experience, about “creating versus waiting. Oftentimes, we want our ideas to be perfect instead of just going and sharing them with each other, which is really where we get growth.” Another highlight was conversations with participants ranging from someone looking for a mentor to those looking to bring Lean Startup into their companies for the first time, to others who are hoping to take it to the next level.
One person who fits into that last category is Mickael Havel, the Business Development Director for High Performance Polymers at Arkema, a specialty chemicals manufacturer. He leads a group of twelve there, and has successfully introduced Lean Startup in his team. Now, with a little bit of experience under his belt and a higher position in the company, he’s hoping “to expand on the message and maybe engage other business units. The Summit was perfect timing because I wanted to hear testimonies about how other people have done it and what pitfalls I should pay attention to and avoid.” His takeaway from the workshops he attended included learning how to structure a team when you’re starting off, which answered his questions about “How diverse do you want your team to be? What functions do you want to be present and for what purpose?”
Among the new perspectives Mickael gained was an understanding that “it’s fine to have a very flexible team, some full-time, some part-time like experts and consultants that you bring in on occasion. But I also learned that it’s very important to have at least one person that is completely dedicated, 100%. If you try 50%, it doesn’t work as well, or it doesn’t work at all.” On a higher level, he found it invaluable to have “companies really explaining why that was so important and their initial struggles.” He has now shared his learnings with his group at Arkema, and is hoping to share them with leadership soon, newly energized by the Summit. “It was very refreshing to me to be among people that have completely embraced these concepts.”
A highlight for all of our attendees was founder Eric Ries’s keynote on the opening day. They appreciated hearing about his many experiences with the recurring challenges of trying to innovate at large companies and implement Lean Startup, including copious details and examples. In addition, they were deeply inspired by his perspective on what the Lean Startup can do on a more philosophical level. As Steven Sherman of Ford X put it, “getting people to think beyond “How much money is this going to make for our company?” That’s absolutely important, but there are a lot of other stakeholders involved. It’s taking a step back and saying that the point of a business is to improve people’s lives, and profit and money are an outcome of that. It’s not the reason you do something.” Marissa Hohman had a number of engaging conversations around this subject during the networking opportunities. “These entrepreneurs enjoyed that Eric talked not just about Lean Startup methodology but how innovation can help humanity as a whole.”
Want to learn more about how enterprises are using Lean Startup? Read our interviews with the minds behind the Summit:
- Keith Berry of Moody’s Analytics
- Nancy Yaklich of Cargill
- Tyrome “Ty” Smith of Parsons Corporation
- Sandeep Mylavarapu of Caterpillar
- Ben Hafele of Lean Startup Co.
- Ieasha Taitano of TracFone Wireless
- Rob Hernandez of Universal Robots
- Ben Schmuck of Caterpillar
- Elijah Tuuri of TracFone Wireless