THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

The Running Lean Workshop

Spending 2 full days in a Central London workshop is never a decision taken lightly, especially when you factor in the transport and accommodation costs. A pragmatist might, therefore, question the fact that Tim Caudrelier and I invested around £2,000 of the company’s money in attending this event. Was it worth it? Well let me get to the point – an unreserved “YES” in answer to that question. Let me also share with you the reasons why (which may surprise you – at the same time they are the moral of the story). 1. The opportunity to simply spend some time away Tim and I are partners in a business. If we are lucky, we see each other once a week (Monday) at our Manchester offices, where we are engaged with the rest of the team in the deployment of our tactical business plan. Once a month, we have a full-day Board Meeting with our third business partner. We are always under time pressure, always racing through a list of “stuff that needs doing”, questions that need answers and decisions that must be made. Hardly ever do we have the chance to just sit and listen to how we feel about the business and our individual balance. During the workshop itself we had the time to discuss the points raised by our host Ash Maurya. On the Thursday evening (remember those steaming hot summer evenings a few weeks ago?) we walked over to The South Bank and enjoyed beer and burgers al fresco – and the chance to enjoy some really good conversation away from the pressures of daily task lists and targets. Same again over a lovely breakfast on the Friday morning. I rank this as one of the top benefits of the workshop. “Why the hell don’t you simply book the time out and spend a couple of days together every now and then?” Good question. 2. The “aha” moment In every course, lecture or workshop there is at least one “aha” moment, defined by me as that moment when you suddenly see the light. The challenge is to maintain your concentration so that the “aha” can arrive. Occasionally the “aha” is a direct answer to a question you arrived with. The really beneficial “aha” moment is the one that hits you in the face from an unexpected direction. You were thinking along a pathway that seemed defined and, all of a sudden, an idea, approach or solution manifests itself that takes you in a completely different direction. You realise that you have been asking the wrong question or seeking the wrong solution. During The Running Lean Workshop we enjoyed two such moments: 1. On Thursday morning, the realisation that we must develop an MVP – that’s a “minimum value proposition” – an entry level, low cost product or solution that allows curious prospects to become paying customers. Strangely, we were already aware of the concept, having been introduced to tripwires and lead magnets by Ryan Deiss and the team at Digital Marketer. It took our workshop to put that into context and give us the confidence to proceed. 2. On Friday morning, our second “aha” was understanding how we can present metrics to our clients that will directly link marketing spend to sales results. The elusive MROI (marketing return on investment) that allows a client to answer the Golden Question mentioned in our “100% Growth” series: “I gave you my money – what did you do with it?” 3. The workshop content It may seem a paradox to have this as third choice – after all, our tickets were over £500 each. The workshop content was excellent and I’m not going to elaborate here – read Ash Maurya’s blog and buy his book (see below). During the two days we had the time to carefully construct a Lean Canvas for 7connections, refining our strategic business plan for the next 3 years. It really is a fascinating process of self-examination. The Lean Canvas process will accelerate our business development, giving us clarity on our offer, our unique abilities and exactly what we have to do next. I’m also inspired to hand-hold some of my clients through the same process and so I came away with practical new coaching skills. If you would like me to facilitate the construction of a Lean Canvas for you, just email me at coachbarrow@me.com. So our £2,000 will pay us back in many ways. We emerge more aligned in our thinking, inspired by new ideas and, ultimately, more confident about the future. http://leanstack.com/books/

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