This is a guest post written by Simen Fure Jørgensen. He runs a consulting firm, Iterate in Norway, and is the creator of a new board game, Playing Lean, that promises to teach Lean Startup principles.
I was briefly exposed to the game on the team’s recent visit to Austin and was particularly impressed with the engagement and risk aversion of the players during the game. I was certainly intrigued and will be exploring the intersection of play and learning further.
But for now, here’s the backstory from Simen.
A class on Kanban can be pretty dry especially for first-timers. But we recently ran a workshop where attendees were really enthusiastic about learning. Why?
They were really worked up because they had been playing getKanban – a board game we used during the workshop. Everyone, from the most skeptical to the most resistant, had their heart in the game and were focused on winning using their newly acquired knowledge.
The Kanban workshop happened some one and a half years ago with a client of mine. And since then I’ve been wondering whether there was a similar game for the Lean Startup…
A quick search revealed nothing. So I proceeded to do the only responsible thing: I started making one.
After a lot of work, play testing and development I have arrived at the moment of truth. My game, called “Playing Lean”, is now officially a Kickstarter campaign.
One of many playtestings. Which team will conquer the market?
For me the process of making and marketing a board game has been highly educational. A first lesson was outlining the business model of a business board game – expressed with Ash’s Lean Canvas, of course.
1. Customer Segments
We quickly saw that we needed to address two types of users. Those who would be buying the game, and those who would be playing it. There is an overlap, since buyers would also want to play. After a lot of discussions and interviews, our line of thinking was:
Buyers – enthusiasts that might know Lean Startup well, but who want some smart way to make others enthusiastic too (without forcing them to read a book or take a class).
Players – people working in innovation, but who are not actively seeking new knowledge about better ways to do it.
Segmenting users this way was important. It made our choice easier later on, when we were articulating our unique value proposition.
We have gained a lot of early attention from universities and business schools, who are very eager to use the game in a formal education setting. These have been our early adopters.
Problem and Customer Segments are tightly coupled together, so it should be easy to guess that the main problem we are trying to solve is:
It is difficult to spread the knowledge of and enthusiasm for Lean Startup to friends and colleagues and…
We’re trying to solve another problem too, more oriented towards the “Players” customer segment:
People who said they’ve understood the principles of the Lean Startup turn out not to follow them in real life, even if they want to.
Books, trainings and workshops (like Lean Startup Machine).
3. Unique Value Proposition
Having the problem and customer segments sorted out, the unique value proposition came by itself:
Teach Lean Startup with a board game!
High level pitch
The high level pitch could be “getKanban for the Lean Startup”, but a more accessible one would be something like “Monopoly for Lean Startup”.
The solution is based on a simple idea: Show, don’t tell. Instead of forcing people to read a book or attend a class, you can simply invite them to a nice board game session. Through the game, they will learn and understand the key concepts and tradeoffs.
A crowdfunding campaign seemed very well suited to test the attractiveness of a board game. Costs vary a lot with how many games you produce, and with Kickstarter the risk of being stuck with a lot of inventory is eliminated.
6. Revenue Streams
The revenue streams can be seen from the reward structure of our Kickstarter. Simply put, revenue will come from selling games and setting up workshops.
7. Cost Structure
Our fixed costs are all related to the development of the game, from design to pictures to writing and proofreading.
Variable costs are per game – production and shipping.
8. Key metrics
While we are live on Kickstarter, our key metrics are easy: Number of backers and average revenue per backer.
9. Unfair Advantage
Our unfair advantage is that we’re part of the Lean Startup community. Many people have given their input during development, and many more have been part of play testing and development.
The Lean Startup community in Oslo at the launch party
And not to forget – I got to write a guest post on Ash’s blog!
Everything put together, here’s the canvas:
What would you have done differently?
Curious about the game? Check out the game here