Pretotyping and Lean Canvas

As a C-suite executive, an R&D leader, a startup founder, or as an entrepreneur or intrapreneur, how do you know if what you hope to sell really has a market – before you invest thousands (hundreds of thousands, millions) of dollars and lots (months, years) of time in developing a prototype, with the appropriate marketing collateral even before it’s built? Is there really a way to know?

If you’re following the Lean Startup movement or are a Lean Startup yourself, you’ll already know about Hypothesis Testing from any number of Lean Startup Books. (Head over to the Resources page to get into Amazon’s Bookseller site for these and other great books!)


But that doesn’t mean that many executives take this to heart when they’re creating their businesses or products. From the back cover flap of Testing Business Ideas comes this awful quote: “Seven out of ten new products fail to deliver on expectations.”

How can you reduce the chances that your product or service will fail in the marketplace? Even creating a traditional Business Plan means that you’re going out of your way to prognosticate potential success, all while having no certainty that your Plan will succeed or fail.

The Answer: By Hypo-Zooming your hypothesis testing with “Pretotyping” experiments (no, it’s not a typo on either word).

With principles tested straight from Google, Tesla, Amazon, Whole Foods, and other great companies, comes Alberto Savoia, Google’s first Engineering Director, and now global leader of the Pretotyping Movement. Alberto’s engineering mindset was used to success in what he did at Sun Microsystems making Java the modern-day language running all of our computers, Google (he was the head of the Google AdWords project – now called Google Ads), and at his own startups. He succeeded pretty easily and thought he had the magic formula for success – until one day, he didn’t…

I’ll let him tell you about it. Be forewarned: He’s as funny as he is smart, so you’ll love laughing and learning along with him.

From that point on, he studied Failure – not because he wanted to fail, but because he desperately wanted to understand it so that he could stay away from it in the future. He couldn’t figure out WHY he and others failed when bringing a product or service to market when they had been so successful with other products – he wanted to study why products failed in the first place.

What he came away with are the principles that have changed market Startup Hypothesis Testing which are set forth in his 2019 book, The Right It.

Since that time, there have been many major developments in Pretotyping worldwide, including:

  • Lean Startup Guru, Dan Olsen’s Product Management Podcast (see below)
  • Exponentially.com Global Australian Pretotyping Expert, Leslie Barry, created an online Pretotyping Class in partnership with Alberto (who acts as an Advisor). Exponentially now runs an international Pretotyping online class. Leslie has kindly offered a 10% discount on his class for people who get into the class from this website link. Use the code cultural-strategies for your discount. Sign up here
  • The Design Sprint Movement is using Pretotyping – with Dallas Design Sprint Owner, Robert Skrobe holding the point position
  • And a host of documents shared online that advocates have contributed free of charge or through Creative Commons licenses. Some of them are a Wall Mural by UX Master Certification Designer, Chris Callaghan from McCann Manchester, UK, and an MS Excel document (HUNT FOR THE PRETOTYPE IN THIS WEBSITE TO GET A FREE COPY OF THE DOCUMENT.) based on Chris’ Wall Mural, but used for iterative Pretotypes (this one created by yours truly) and shared free on LinkedIn with people from around the world.
  • A global following for learning through Alberto’s LinkedIn profile. He teaches many new things every week through his LinkedIn account – please follow him for new information.

Now you can learn how to run your own Pretotyping experiments by using a technique steeped in Lean Startup methodology (remember, Lean Startup methodology, including the Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Canvas, is pretty new anyway, with BMC/VPC books published in 2004, and the 2011 publishing of “The Lean Startup” book by Eric Ries). Yetpairing up Alberto Savoia’s Pretotyping principles with Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas, we have a better way forward than the initial books. Both of these create a world where market/concept fit experiments will later meet your needs in the perfect product or service + the perfect customer.

In Exponentially’s classes, Leslie Barry has found that partnering Pretotyping principles with Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas (Railsware’s 8-minute video on using the Lean Canvas) is the best canvas for startups and intrapreneurs.

The Business Model Canvas + the Value Proposition Canvas by Osterwalder and Pigneur in 2004 , were the original canvas models, but are structured more for larger businesses and intrapreneurs, and works as a strategic model.

The Lean Canvas, however, is perfectly situated in the startup space with Problem, Solutions, Unfair Advantages, Key Metrics, as they take into account all the other things that startup founders must pay attention to; therefore, it’s much easier to use the Lean Canvas as a paired document inside Pretotyping where nothing is concrete at the point of creating the Pretotypes. You can adjust the other boxes inside the Lean Canvas to fit your products or services. Ash’s Lean Canvas has a Creative Commons license so it can be shared with anyone, provided you give the proper credit. Testing the assumptions inside the Lean Canvas and using Pretotyping to do it, simplifies and accelerates the possibility that your to-go-market strategy will succeed.

For you, our clients, we help you understand the concepts of building a small version of hypothesis testing to be tested locally before you build something bigger. We then walk you through your own real-life Pretotypes that we’ll create together.

It’s also life-changing for your company’s  R&D department. You’ll step away from the training with your own set of experiments (we work on YOUR Pretotypes), as well as the iterations you may need to take your ideas a step-at-a-time further at each experiment, until you’re finally satisfied that you’ve found your market – AND the RIGHT product or service for that market.

We’ve been running Pretotyping experiments since we first read the book, The Right It, in 2019. Our first attempts at it proved that there was indeed a market out there for companies that wanted to learn about Gallup’s Builder Profile 10 inside their companies. Take a look at the Testimonials page to read their reviews of their programs. 

The Original Case Study:

In our initial Pretotyping experiments, we wanted to test two different types of organizations at the same time for introducing Gallup’s Builder Profile 10 (BP10) into the marketplace, using the same BP10 products to determine which would be the more optimal type of organization to bring team development into. We were part of a Gallup Research Project for BP10 with six executive teams: five in the Twin Cities, one in Denver.

These companies harnessed BP10 to develop their executive teams through the Research Project. However, there was a marked different between two of the companies and the other four, and this is what we wanted to prove inside the Pretotyping experiments. These two companies shared a similar infrastructure paradigm. Yet what I found was that these two companies would never benefit as much from BP10 or other team development as the other four companies, simply because of their paradigm.

The other four companies went on to create great leadership team development at an accelerated level and pace for each of them, including one team which was a combination parent/child company, with its intrapreneurship team. This proved that we needed to stay away from teams that ran on  the similar paradigms exhibited in the first two teams and focus much more effort on facilitating development inside the other types of teams. In short, we would never begin to make any lasting headway inside the paradigm teams and it would have been an extremely ineffective use of time and resources for both the company teams and our company, for a very limited overall effect. The internal paradigm hobbled the organizations from learning.

A 7th company, later on, found they had some sticking points in some key areas – in EVERY department, but by using BP10 learning first, we then taught them how conduct their own Pretotyping experiments as one of the solutions they needed. We ran in-person Pretotyping Modules for every department in the company until we had worked through the entire model and the teams understood the concepts well. Every department’s employees kept saying, “This! This is what we needed all along!!!” It was revolutionary for them. And Super-Fun!

Pretotyping works! And at a fraction of the cost of Prototyping, Pretotyping will take your products or services directly to the doors that will pay the most for them because the market fits their needs – exactly!

 

And now for some fun! Can you find the Pretotype in this website? If so, copy the URL of the page and email it to me. For those who have found it correctly, I’ll send you a free copy of the Iterative Pretotyping Excel document as your prize.

Subject: I Found it!

Your Name:                                                                         

URL of the Pretotype:                                              

Don’t build the Wrong It, build the Right It – where product design meets product need.