Lean Canvas – an hypotheses board

As so many others I’m inspired by the book Lean Startup. The idea of experimenting with your business model and deliver just the bare stuff needed to validate (or actually try to refute) your business hypothesis is so enticing. But how do you do that when you are one of 50 or 100 teams? How do you do that when the teams are not even using User Stories? How do you do that when daily work is done on a Kanban board only showing tasks?
Lean Canvas

One part of a possible solution is to find a way of visualizing the business case. A popular approach has become setting up a business board, often called a Lean Canvas. I wanted to try something like that. But going trough all the different variants I could find, no one was good enough in itself. I wanted to get the same feeling as with User Stories: a simple formula that everyone can understand and use as soon as the formula is presented.

And then I read Jeff Gothelfs book, Lean UX. There is was. The magic formula: “We believe FEATURE for PERSONA(S) will achieve OUTCOME. We will know when we see METRIC”. Since I had been experimenting with different layouts it was easy to design a canvas out of it.

Personally I think the formula and the canvas version of it are super useful, not only for software development. We also started using the hypothesis board in the tribe management team for organizational change.

In the end I did not manage to induce the full Lean Startup mentality into the squads. The way the canvas ended up being used was actually more like an Epic formula that makes the dialog around the Epics richer:

  • Why are we actually doing this Epic?
  • How do we believe our users behave?
  • Who are we targeting?
  • How do we expect the users to act?
  • And: how do we measure success?

These are all great questions to ask, even (or maybe especially) when you as a team member is not living on the same frontier as your customers.

Here’s a link to a google docs with the canvas. Just make a local copy and you can mass produces canvases ūüėČ

And here’s a powerpoint presentation:

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