How To Develop Your “Business Model Canvas” Plan-of-Record (PoR)

March 3, 2014

Positioning your product, and work, with respect to time for your customers is extremely important. I like teams to have a single slide “Plan-of-Record” (PoR) which illustrates the “whole product” over an 18 month period. The concept is to capture all the “deliverables” implied by your Business Model Canvas, especially the “Customer Relationships” section. The PoR can be used as a “Roadmap” by noting items you’ve committed to, items you’re are planning to do next, and items you are exploring. The audience for this slide is primarily your customers. They drive it, you review it with them, and edit it accordingly. It is also used for review with your team and investors to illustrate what you need to do based on customer feedback. You are not looking for your teams, or investors, feedback; you are looking for their commitment to support this work. You are “firmly” telling them what needs to be done based on what you’ve learned from your market.

Plan-of-Record (PoR) Details

  • bottom most row — your “product” — the obvious stuff.

  • upper layers – all the stuff you need to “get, keep, and grow” your business. These are signficant deliverables which may require resources equal to, or exceeding your R&D. They may even include R&D. Remember when I showed that SG&A is more than 2x R&D. So be careful with your resources and stick to “sketches” and “rough” drafts of these items for now. We need to determine what “Customer Relationship” items work and which ones don’t for your current work.

  • Upper Layers Ideas

    • selling materials – user manuals, technical whitepapers, financial whitepapers, usage scenarios, thank you notes, etc
    • technical materials – stuff you need to connect your product to an existing product, how do you prove your product works with other products in a system?
    • Hypotheses for these items are derived from your Customer Segments, Value Proposition, Day in the Life of the Customer (today) & (tomorrow) work. The Value Proposition Designer and Lean Canvas are very useful for drilling down into these areas.

Reference List Of Possible “Customer Relationship” Deliverables

Capturing Time & Road-mapping

  • focus on next 18 months.
  • color coding for “roadmap” effect – “green” = committed, “yellow” = planned, “grey” = exploring.
  • the items we are “really” exploring right now are the “upper layer” communication materials. Your product (MVP) is NOT the most important item.

Example — Internet Semiconductor Product

  • it doesn’t have very good color coding. — it is all green because it’s all “committed”.
  • bottom row — “the chip” — has three phases (alpha, beta, production). It’s in blue to separate it from the “Customer Relationship” deliverables.
  • the chip fits into a system – there are three documents describing this system — 1. a system brief (block diagrams), 2. full design, 3. tested design.
  • the chip and system require software – there are versions in time
  • the software is delivered via a partner so I show it in another color.
  • the chip and system fit into a bigger system which requires compliance to industry standards – three documents – test plan document, test plan .ppt, test plan results.
  • Standards – discussion of standards used and possibly discussion of work our team has been being doing within the standards group.
  • financials and credibility documents.

PoR Graphic

Examples for Teams in our Cohort

Team 1

  • product roadmap- lab demo (green – committed), portable demo ( yellow-planned), portable product gov’t (grey-exploratory), portable product oil (grey-exploratory)
  • System – your usage scenarios and/or markets. How does it all fit together?
  • Application Documents – test plan design, test plan, test results
  • Standards – Which standards are you testing to? Which standards can you participate in? Talk like you’re an expert.
  • Value & ROI – materials for VP and CEOs.

Team 2

  • product – what you have now (green), planned ( yellow ), exploring (grey)
  • system – how does your pipeline fit into a “microbes”, “cancer”, etc.
  • application documents / testmonials – details of how your product works for a specific segment like “microbes” or “cancer”
  • Standards – Are there standards bodies or interest groups? How do you participate?
  • Value & ROI?

Team 3

  • product roadmap?
  • system fit?
  • application documents?
  • Standards? Interest Groups?
  • Financial?

Team 4

  • product roadmap ( You have high level flow … where are you in it? what have you committed to? What are you planning? exploring? )
  • system fit? ( Your Patch Sketch)
  • application documents? ( Is there a part of the patch sketch that needs detail? )
  • Standards? Interest Groups? ( who are they? can you participate? should you?)
  • Financial?

Team 5

  • product roadmap?
  • system fit?
  • application documents?
  • Standards?
  • Financial?

Steve Blank’s Life Science LLP – Medical Devices, Therapeutics, Diagnostics, and Digital Health

January 31, 2014

Steve Blank ran a Reinventing Life Sciences Lean LaunchPad in the Fall of 2013. Here are all the blog posts associated with it.

Introduction — Reinventing Life Science Startups

During Workshop — Lessons Learned — LLP for Life Science

Wrap Up — Lesson’s Learned

Lean LaunchPad 2Q 2013 Slideware

December 20, 2013

Here is the slideware from my Lean LaunchPad workshop in April-June, 2013 (in slideshare format).

Background & Inspiration & Sources

The slideware borrows heavily from Steve Blank’s Lean LaunchPad slideware. It extends his “Start Up Owners Manual” and “Four Steps to the Epiphany” with concepts from Roger Martin, Peter Drucker, Geoffrey Moore, and others. I also introduce a “Plan of Record Sketch” to manage the “whole product schedule”.


I often get asked about the outcomes that I’m expecting from these workshops. In the last presentation 4a end game.2013.q2 I tackle what I think the “end game” is, where the teams are at the end of this workshop, and thus set the direction of what they need to do.



Five Great Posts on Mentorship From Five Great Mentors

December 15, 2013

Here are 5 great posts on the topic of being a “mentor & advisor” from some pretty good sources.

and a bonus collection of career advice posts — Career Planning With pmarca, Seth Godin, & Steve Blank (and Ben Horowitz)

Christmas Reading List For *Fifty Something* Dad’s

December 2, 2013

Here is a quick review of my 2013 Readings. The lists are in priority order.
These may be good gift ideas for *50 something dads*


Fun — Fiction

Fun — Non-Fiction

Business — Must Reads

Business — Startups & Innovation

Business — Stories and Attitude

Self Help


Health & Spirituality

HowTo — Customer Discovery Requires Humble Inquiry

October 23, 2013

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Ed Schein’s new book Humble inquiry is fantastic! It dives deep into the topic of Humble Inquiry that was introduced in his previous book Helping. There are lots of examples and detailed discussion of what is and what isn’t Humble Inquiry. In Chapter 3 he describes the differences between four styles of Inquiry — 1) Humble Inquiry 2) Diagnostic inquiry 3) Confrontational inquiry 4) Process-oriented inquiry. This helped me understand how my attempts at Humble Inquiry often get derailed. I can start by being curious and humble, but I often want to get something done and lose my curiosity in the other person.

I really liked the 3 chapters that tackle the “impediments”, “inhibitors”, and “resistances” to the use Humble Inquiry. Often the technique of Humble Inquiry seems obvious when one wants to develop a relationship, but it is rarely used. It is good to know why it is rarely used. In terms of “impediments” I particularly like the observation that American culture stifles the use of Humble Inquiry because we don’t value relationships. Relationships are not a high priority, they’re a nice to have. The high priority is Individual Doing and Telling. If a relationship is required to do something then we’ll develop it minimally. Otherwise we’ll blow people off.

Our own society was built on rugged individualism, and that’s the number one principle and ideal that we will not give up under any circumstance. If that requires occasional relationships and team work, then we will do it, knowing that really, it is the star that counts. » Ed Schein (Look below for full Question)

Why Is Humble Inquiry Important to Entrepreneurship?

It is my view that the most important skill in Customer Discover is Humble Inquiry. That is developing a relationship with ones customer and their eco-system via the use of Humble Inquiry. Be curious, learn the market space, and serve it.

I find it interesting that Schein does not mention Humble Inquiry in an Entrepreneurial context. Most of his examples are based on leaders needing to be humble in order to get their underlings to speak openly to them. He says that leaders need to be sincerely curious to earn the trust of their underlings. The leaders own this problem. If the leaders are not humble then the underlings will not communicate openly.

In my view this is exactly the challenge of the entrepreneur marketing & selling his products. He believes that he is a leader and thus has the right to “Do and Tell” how great his product is. But the customer is just like an underling, he wants the entrepreneurs to take a sincere interest in him. The customer wants the entrepreneurs to really understand him, to solve his problem without asking. He doesn’t want to be sold. The entrepreneur needs to earn the customer’s trust.

This customer relationship building is much easier to execute on via the tactics of Humble Inquiry. All the Customer Discovery Interview HowTo’s from Cindy Alvarez, Steve Blank, Eric Ries, etc are written in the context of Humble Inquiry. This is why Customer Discovery is so challenging for most people. Few people are good at , or practice, developing relationships.


Edgar H. Schein outlines the Leadership Lesson on his new book: ‘Humble Inquiry’ – YouTube

Interview Notes

Impediments to Humble Inquiry – The Culture of Do & Tell
RCRC Connect – Ed Schein Speaks About His New Book – Humble Inquiry « rcrc connect

full question below.

Bill: In Chapter 4, “The Culture of DO and TELL,” you note the incongruence in American culture between espoused values and the deeper cultural assumptions that are manifested in actual practice. One example you cite is that we “value teamwork” and yet assume rugged individualism. How can we carry two dichotomous values that are often in conflict and expect to be effective?

Ed: Such seeming inconsistencies are the characteristic of cultures in all societies, everywhere. The fundamental rules by which we operate are often in conflict with each other. But we have to do both for the society to function. In every society, there is a system for getting ahead and a whole bunch of denial about how that system disadvantages a bunch of other people. How can a society based on “royalty” function, when it is obvious that there are all sorts of problems created by a few people being rich and powerful, while a whole bunch of other people are poor and powerless. So societies create myths and live with their hypocrisies.

If we confront it and say let’s redistribute everything like communists tried to do, we have already learned that biologically we cannot live in an egalitarian way. The one thing that anthropologists who have studied status systems find is that we have built into us biologically a need to get ahead. This means that there will always be a status system in every society. Our own society was built on rugged individualism, and that’s the number one principle and ideal that we will not give up under any circumstance. If that requires occasional relationships and team work, then we will do it, knowing that really, it is the star that counts. But we sometimes have to be a team, and we then rationalize and claim that we can do both.

But if you look at reward systems, and how our society functions, it is fundamentally rugged individualism all the way through. That societies have mixed motives and inconsistent assumptions operating is one of the great truths of human societies. Not just ours; all of them

Business Model Canvas in Action – Osterwalder’s New Videos

October 21, 2013

Alex Osterwalder & Team have put together a 6 useful videos that illustrate the Business Model Canvas in practice. I particularly like videos 4 and 6. Video 4 describes how to analyze your canvas with respect to external attributes like Market Forces, Key Trends, Industry Forces, and Macro-Economic Forces. Video 6 describes how to present your Business Model Canvas to others. They are crisp and short & sweet.


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