Co-Creating a Better Future for Humanity

Eight years ago, in 2012, I went to the first Lean Startup Machine event in Toronto where our team won first prize by validating our idea and selling our prototype for $50. At the time, I was working as a product owner, and my company was looking to be the first to offer iPad applications within investor relations.

Our team from LSM Toronto, 2012

A few years before that, we had spent a bunch of time and loot building essentially what you could call “google docs for IR” and couldn’t make a success out of it. I still maintain it was a great product, well ahead of its time, as it was an app that would give IR’s complete control over their disclosure.

This time around, I wanted to use lean startup techniques to launch this new product line, so I hacked together an MVP using Yahoo Pipes (more or less Zapier before Zapier existed) and the Red Foundry mobile app platform. I still have the original business model canvases, mockups, Kano analysis and more just because it’s fun to look back every once in a while.

Lean Startup’s core idea is to validate demand for your product before you build it. You’ll have assumptions about your solution, product, and customers, and you need to find the right MVP to get people to plunk down loot for your not-yet-a-real-product product. Back then, a fake landing page would do it; today, you need to build something because customers see right through that.

Preamble over.

Around the same time, I launched Agile Transformation: A Guide to Organizational Change on Safari Books, talking about how to use Lean Startup in an organizational change context.

Lean Startup’s Build->Measure->Learn became Insights->Options->Experiments, and the core idea was to co-create change and validate the change was the right one at the right time.

The idea being that people who need to live with the day-to-day consequences of the change must be involved in the creation of it. That would bring humanity back into the workplace by giving people choices through a diverse and inclusive approach, which would lead to a better world. If you’re happier at work, you’ll be happier at home. Your kids/family/friends will notice, and that’s infectious. 

Here we are many years later amongst a global pandemic and severe social and human rights issues, more specifically #BlackLivesMatter.

To sum up my thoughts about the #blacklivesmatter movement, I’ll take a page out of the book of Chris Rock who said, in response to being asked about how much progress has been made in the black community: “white people have got less crazy. Saying ‘we have made progress’ presumes we deserved to not sit at the same table as white people, or use the same bathroom.

I am against all forms of oppression from an abusive shitty manager in an organization, to excluding or being violent to any group of people because of how they look or who they are.

In fact, my last embeded agile coaching gig was in an enterprise organization where people physically getting ill from creating software. It was the most abusive environment I’ve ever seen. My last meeting with senior management was shining a light on that, and about open hostility in the work environment and I parted with; “you should be ashamed of how your people are treated here, agile can’t help out and I’ve leaving.”

I know it’s impossible to compare bad working environments to people being shot for jogging. My struggle is balancing change in an organizational context along with a higher social purpose. For me, change is change. Organizational change has always, and will always, be goverened by the laws of social change.

That leads me to how many people have asked me how Lean Change Management came to be, and what’s the purpose of it, to which I always answer, “it’s a way to leave the world better than how we found it.”

Given that purpose, I’ve been donating 5% of my company’s membership revenue to various charities since 2018 because it was the best I could do at the time. Starting this month, we’ll only be supporting human rights charities, which will include donations and other stuff that isn’t ready for primetime yet. 

We all know change happens when we act, and everyone takes action in their unique way. Some spread the word, some give money to causes, some take direct action, and some stand against oppression or abusive workplaces.

Since the pandemic struck, I’ve lost count of how many change agents I’ve talked to who’ve decided it’s time to leave their organization because they want to use their talents for a higher purpose.

Together, we can co-create a better future and here are some ideas how:

At some point, we all have a choice to make, and until now I’ve passively supported more important social movements through my organization and I’m pleased to be in a position, after almost a decade of work, to evolve my organization to the next level with the same purpose: Let’s co-create a better future for humanity and leave the world better than how we found it.



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