Friday, December 5, 2014

An offering for 2015: free Design Thinking and innovation workshop

If you are a non-profit person, entrepreneur, teacher or simply someone who would like to learn a creative way to solve problems and make the most of opportunities, I'd like to offer you a free workshop on Design Thinking and innovation.

The workshop will be tailored to your needs. In it, you will learn:

1. How to get insight on the problem you want to solve
2. How to come up with fresh ideas
3. How to prototype and test your ideas
4. How to iterate on stye feedback you get

This way of thinking and doing can be applied to pretty much anything you want to solve!

If this sounds like something you'd like to learn, I would love to hear from you at

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Interview on Alistair Croll's blog Tilt the Windmill

I had the pleasure of meeting Alistair Croll recently when he and Ben Yoskovitz presented at our Schibsted Classified Media knowledge sharing event, SuperWeek. They made a huge contribution to SuperWeek, and Alistair very kindly invited me to talk about innovation for his blog Tilt the Windmill. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

guest bloggers needed

Got something to say about design thinking, customer development, Lean Startup, etc? I would love to have your contribution here. Leave a comment here, tweet me @coultonv or email

the magic of short timeframes

Last week I had the pleasure of doing a Lean Innovation workshop in Mexico. One comment was echoed by several participants: they were amazed by how much they could accomplish in two days.

The key was controlling the time we had for each step of our design thinking process. On the first day, we did a crash course with very little time allowed at each step.

For our work on the second day, when we worked on five real challenges for the team, we expanded our timeframes quite a bit. Nevertheless, we allowed much less time than would normally be used by the team for re-expressing a brief, brainstorming, etc.

This is a key learning. When we want to push our creativity, limiting our time is a great inspiration. When prototyping, having a tight deadline enables us to quickly grasp the best solution at hand.

It occurred to me after this experience that internet-based businesses may be unique in the sense that there's rarely a feeling of urgency in the development process. We can always ship later; it's not like we have a bunch of users breathing down our necks. To me this seems like more of a disadvantage than something desirable. It seems to lead to an impulse to perfect before releasing, even in avowed Lean Startup practitioners. But if we apply time constraints to our work, and test our creations quickly and thoughtfully, we can reap the benefits of a truly creative process. A great side effect is learning just how fast we can go!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

time + freedom

Today I met with two guys from a company in Mexico where the developers have a hack day after every sprint. People can work on whatever they want that will be relevant for the company during this time. It's one day, eight hours more or less, of dedicated freedom.

What a great initiative. Dedicated freedom within a time frame is as close to serious play as it gets.

It's important to point out that this is not a huge company with tons of resources. They're small and they have a lot to accomplish. But they've started this practice from the beginning, as a way to foster an innovative culture.

Why doesn't everyone do this?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

take a stand

Last week I was in Paris, and I was on the lookout for a certain kind of business: one in which the owner is visibly taking a stand. Businesses that exist because of love, passion, curiosity, the need to make the world better or to right a wrong.

The potentially wonderful thing about starting a bar or a bookshop is just that, you get to take a stand. These are not undertakings for people who just want to make money. If you just want to make money, working for someone else seems to make a lot more sense. (Which is not to say you can't take a stand in someone else's employ.)

Selling books or serving drinks is a platform for making a reality that you believe in very deeply. Everyone doesn't have to like it. You just need enough people, the ones Stendhal referred to as "the happy few."

How many people would be enough? I guess that's different for every business, but a rough number would be the number that allows you to keep taking your stand.