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The Venture Design process helps you know where to focus. It offers a systematic execution of continuous design and delivery that helps you focus on the right things at the right time, leveraging the best of what’s out there in modern practices like design thinking and Lean Startup.

Figures vary, but popular estimates but the portion of features actually used at something like 20%, the success rate of IT projects at around 20-30%, and the number of new products that succeed at around 10%. The Venture Design process also allows you to work backward, ‘debugging’ products and projects that don’t go according to plan. The material is organized by step into tutorials, examples, and templates. Most users review the tutorials and examples, then use the templates to apply the techniques to their venture. You’ll also find workshops you can run with your team.

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I recommend starting here. If you don’t have a well articulated understanding of your customer (or user), everything else you do is sitting on a shaky foundation. It’s also the quickest way to improve the quality of your idea or make an informed pivot to an even better idea.WHAT? Humanized descriptions of your customer.
WHEN? Whenever you talk how to create product or promotion.
WHY? Avoid creating stuff for a customer that doesn’t exist.

TUTORIAL: INTRO TO PERSONAS
This tutorial introduces personas, including when and where they’ll help you make better, more testable decisions.

TEMPLATE: PERSONAS
This links to a personas template in the Venture Design template (a Google Doc which you can also download as MS Word).

ONLINE COURSE: AGILE MEETS DESIGN THINKING
This Coursera course introduces the use of personas for product development. The course is free to audit. For a preview check out Creating and Using Personas

TUTORIAL: DAY IN THE LIFE
This is a tutorial on creating a ‘Day in the Life’ board for your key personas-a great way to add depth and reality to your personas.

TUTORIAL: STORYBOARDING
Innovation that delivers growth. Customer empathy that’s actionable. Killer communication that our audience loves. We want all these things. Storyboarding is a practice anyone can use to get them. No drawing skills required.

PROBLEM SCENARIOS & ALTERNATIVES

Problem Scenarios are where you identify specific objectives for your product (if you’re familiar with ‘jobs to be done’, it’s the same basic idea). They may be tasks, habits, or desires that you’ll deliver against. These should be real and observable, hence the emphasis on ‘alternatives’: if these problem scenarios exist, the customer is doing something about them now. It’s important you understand those alternatives- your proposition will need to be better.

WHAT? Testable definitions of desires, jobs to be done.
WHEN? Whenever you need to know why customers would care.
WHY? If no one cares, no one buys.

TUTORIAL: INTRO TO PROBLEM SCENARIOS
This tutorial introduces ‘problem scenarios’, including a guide on how to identify them and anchor your ideas to them.

TEMPLATE: PROBLEM SCENARIOS
This links to a problems scenario template in the Venture Design template (a Google Doc which you can also download as MS Word).

ONLINE COURSE: AGILE MEETS DESIGN THINKING
This Coursera course introduces the use of personas for product development. The course is free to audit. For a preview check out Needfinding with Problem Scenarios

VALUE PROPOSITIONS, ASSUMPTIONS & EXPERIMENTS

The Lean Startup is about identifying your key assumptions and proving (or disproving) them as quickly and efficiently as possible. Keeping the venture focused on this in the early days will save you lot of money and grief.

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WHAT? Testable definitions of the value you’re creating.
WHEN? Before you invest time in building things.
WHY? To avoid building something no one wants.

TUTORIAL: VALUE PROPOSITION DESIGN & TESTING WITH LEAN STARTUP
This tutorial will take you through the fundamentals of Lean Startup with a focus on creating testable propositions, structured assumptions, and creative experiments to test customer motivation.

TEMPLATE: VALUE PROPOSITION DESIGN
This table will help you draft value propositions relative to your customer’s existing problem scenarios and alternatives.

TEMPLATE: TESTING CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT WITH LEAN STARTUP
This template will help you design experiments to test whether you have something customers want (before you build it). I also recommend checking out the preceding section on sketching assumptions.

ONLINE COURSE: HYPOTHESIS-DRIVEN DEVELOPMENT
In this course, you’ll learn how to apply Lean Startup in the context of formulating highly testable ideas and maximizing your investments in testing new ideas.

ONLINE COURSE: AGILE ANALYTICS
In this course, you’ll to make a habit out of instrumenting actionable analytics into all the work you do.

CUSTOMER DISCOVERY & EXPERIMENTS

Successful innovators are constantly learning and constantly testing what works. This applies across personas, problem scenarios, propositions, as well as usability. The materials here will help you get started and focus on the right kind of testing at the right time.

WHAT? Scientific testing of your concepts.
WHEN? On most major decisions about what to build or how to sell it.
WHY? Know you’re right (or wrong) and stay focused on getting better.

TUTORIAL: THE CUSTOMER DISCOVERY HANDBOOK
This handbook covers four distinct types of discovery and how to decide which one you should be applying for a given question on customer/product fit .

TEMPLATE: CUSTOMER INTERVIEW GUIDE
For discovery and test on your ‘persona and problem hypothesis’, this template helps you get started with customer discovery questions. (It’s a Google Doc which you can also download as MS Word.)

TEMPLATE: EXPERIMENT DESIGN FOR TESTING ENGAGEMENT
For testing your ‘value hypothesis’, this template will help you design execute Lean Startup-type experiments to test customer motivation before you over-invest in building out a product.

TUTORIAL: YOUR USABILITY TEST PLAN
This tutorial will get you rolling with the template below. You can go from idea to testing with interactive prototypes in two hours!

TEMPLATE: USABILITY TEST PLAN
This template supports a usability test plan anyone can use. You’ll learn how to organize your testing around agile user stories and interactive prototypes.

ONLINE COURSE: HYPOTHESIS-DRIVEN DEVELOPMENT
In this course, you’ll learn how to think about testing from an end-to-end perspective: all the way from persona discovery to continuous product delivery.

USER STORIES & PROTOTYPES

If you’re a technology-based startup, this is probably where you’re spending most of your money. Aligning your product development investments with the items above is critical for obvious reasons. Alignment with the Personas & Problem scenarios are particularly important. The User Stories make for a great transition point and the practice or prototyping will help you think through what you *really* had in mind.

WHAT? Verbal and physical narratives to describe your ideas for implementation.
WHEN? Whenever you discuss what to build and how you’ll know if it’s working.
WHY? So your implementation colleagues know what you’re talking about.

TUTORIAL: USER STORIES
This introductory tutorial will get you started writing agile user stories and using them to drive better discussions about what you’re going to build.

TEMPLATE: AGILE USER STORIES
This links to the user stories section of the Venture Design Template. You’ll find a template for creating user stories.

ONLINE COURSE: AGILE MEETS DESIGN THINKING
This Coursera course introduces the use of personas for product development. The course is free to audit. For a preview check out Creating and Using Personas

TUTORIAL: WIREFRAMES & PROTOTYPES
What do you really mean and does that make sense? This item is a tutorial is a step-by-step guide on thinking through your ideas with a prototype using the popular wireframing tool Balsamiq.

TEMPLATE: PROTOTYPING IN BALSAMIQ
This template is based on the Google Apps version of the Balsamiq mockup tool.

ONLINE COURSE: HYPOTHESIS-DRIVEN DEVELOPMENT
Week Two of this course is focused on prototyping and usability testing. For a preview, see Testing Usability

PRODUCT & PROMOTION

These are resources you may find useful for tuning and improving your product. The style guide, for example, is something that every company and every product can use to improve the consistency of their user experiences and the focus of their execution.

WHAT? Tools for making your product better.
WHEN? I would say these are applicable to any product if the tool is new to you.
WHY? Keep making your product and your approach to working it better.

TUTORIAL: THE 25 MINUTE STYLE GUIDE
Relevance and consistency are the top two contributors to a strong design & branding program and those are both well within your reach. Particularly if you’re bootstrapping, using 99 Designs, etc. take 30 minutes and anchor your program. No design training required.

MANAGING WITH AGILE

Agile is evolving into a vehicle for applied innovation at the team level, particularly for anything digital. If you’re looking for a way to organize and focus yourself and/or your team around Venture Design, I highly recommend the agile approaches described below.

WHAT? A methodology for innovation.
WHEN? When you’re looking for a way to organize the work.
WHY? Don’t get overwhelmed- get going (and keep going).

TUTORIAL: AGILE (JUST THE BASICS)
I created this as a kind of glossary + ‘what really matters?’ piece. I think it’s a good place to start.

TUTORIAL: VENTURE DESIGN SPRINTS
Design sprints are a great way to apply Venture Design. This tutorial will help you get started.

TUTORIAL: AGILE TEAM CHARTERS – THE BASICS
There’s really just one thing that matters in creating an agile team charter: anchoring to a problem instead of a solution.

ONLINE CLASS: AGILE DEVELOPMENT (SPECIALIZATION)
This is the overall ‘specialization’ on agile from Coursera. The courses that follow are components of it.

ONLINE COURSE: AGILE MEETS DESIGN THINKING
This is the first course in the specialization and deals with design thinking topics, like the use of personas and problem scenarios.

ONLINE COURSE: HYPOTHESIS-DRIVEN DEVELOPMENT
This is the fourth course in the specialization, and deals with the special role of testing (everything!) in agile.

ONLINE COURSE: MANAGING WITH AGILE
This is the third course in the specialization, and deals with pairing the various jobs of software/digital development with agile methodologies.

BUSINESS MODEL GENERATION

The 40+ page business plan that no one reads may be going out of style, but strong, testable business models are more important than ever. This material will help you get started with the Business Model Canvas, a simple one-page tool for designing and discussing business models.

WHAT? A tool for describing and discussing business models.
WHEN? Whenever a discussion of strategy and business model matters.
WHY? Be explicit, but don’t get bogged down in extraneous detail.

TUTORIAL: THE BUSINESS MODEL CANVAS
The Business Model Canvas is a great tool for thinking through the economics of a new venture. This tutorial lays out how to use it, step by step.

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TEMPLATE: THE BUSINESS MODEL CANVAS
This is a Google Slides-based template.

ONLINE COURSE: INNOVATING WITH THE BUSINESS MODEL CANVAS
In this Coursera course, you’ll learn how to use the Canvas for business model design and management of new projects.

FOCUS: IT

I love enterprise software and I love IT. But it could be so much better- failures rates are as high as 50-70% by some reckonings. A little bit of disciplined innovation can go a long way and that’s what these tools are about.

WHAT? Tutorials and methods for applying design and innovation methodologies to IT.
WHEN? Whenever you have an IT project of any substantial size.
WHY? You can massively improve your odds of success with a little design work up front.

TUTORIAL: THE ENTERPRISE SOFTWARE PLAYBOOK
This tutorial introduces the practice of Venture Design, and product design practices in general, to enterprise software projects.

ONLINE COURSE: CUSTOMER-CENTRIC IT
In this Coursera course, you’ll learn how to systematically drive strategic IT projects with customer-centric design and agile innovation practices.

OTHER HANDY THINGS

WORKSHOP: STORYBOARDING
This is a ready-to-go workshop that teaches storyboarding, hands-on.

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WORKSHOP: A DAY IN THE LIFE
For design thinkers, this group or individual exercise will sharpen your observation skills and ability to create quality customer personas.

TUTORIAL: THE HOOK FRAMEWORK
Today’s runaway successes have all created an itch their customer has to scratch. Nir Eyal’s Hook Framework shows you how.

EXAMPLE VENTURE CONCEPTS
These are venture concepts I use in the resources here as well as a couple that I supply for workshops when then students aren’t bringing their own.

TUTORIAL: THE GROWTH HACKING CANVAS
Using the canvas format popularized with the Business Model Canvas, this canvas deals with integrated marketing.

TUTORIAL: CREATING YOUR PERSONAL INNOVATION PORTFOLIO
Share your awesome! In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create portfolio entries on Behance for the kind of work you see here.

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