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The Lean Canvas Diagnostic - Part 6 of 7: Feasibility

Can the team pull it off?

Feasibility to a team comes down to “Can we build the solution?”

To me, feasibility comes down to the 3Ts: Team, Traction, and Timeline.

While I got a general snapshot of traction during the backstory, it’s still a single data point — making it premature to discuss traction and timeline until the team completes the first pass of their Traction Roadmap. You’ll remember that this was assigned as homework in the viability section and is to be completed before our next session.

Here’s what a completed Traction Roadmap looks like:

A Traction Roadmap helps chart the key milestones of a product by stage and is key to helping the team focus on right action, right time.

So what do we discuss until then? In place of a completed traction roadmap, I rely on a rough assessment of risk using the 10x stage rollout chart below:

If the product has no traction (customers), desirability is typically the riskiest (not feasibility). Even as the product reaches more customers, you’ll see that initially, viability matters more than feasibility.

Because of the Innovator’s Bias (love for their solution), most teams flip this risk prioritization and emphasize their product over the customer or market.

My objective is to reflip this prioritization, not by lecturing but by running an experiment that triggers the team to change their perspective.

The Innovator’s Bias is immune to lecture.

The type of experiment you run will depend on the team’s coachability.

Tactical Experiment

If the team’s risk assessment and current actions align with the chart above (rare but possible), I will spend the remaining time designing an experiment and, more importantly, removing any tactical roadblocks.

For instance, if the team knows they should be talking to customers but are struggling to set up calls, that’s where I’d provide help.

Thought Experiment

If the team’s risk assessment doesn’t align with the chart above, but I read the team to be coachable, I’ll attempt to make a rational argument against their current course of action.

For instance, if they are building a big product, I might argue for reducing scope and going faster with a smaller product or using a non-traditional approach like concierge or wizard-of-oz for their first iteration. Having a few well-known concrete case studies (e.g. Tesla, Airbnb, Facebook) to back up the new strategy goes a long way to trigger a course correction.

Learning Experiment

More commonly, though, I encounter one of the four dangerous animal archetypes:

Credit: Productboard.com

HiPPO: Highest Paid Person’s Opinion

WOLF: Working On Latest Fire

RHINO: Really Here In Name Only

ZEBRA: Zero Evidence But Really Arrogant

And a different approach is called for - something I call Judo Strategy.

In the sport of Judo, when you confront a larger opponent with momentum, you don’t stand in their way but aim to get them off-balance.

More practically, when I encounter a team that is focused on wrong action wrong time, and they don’t seem to be coachable, I first align on something they want (versus need), then show them how to go faster, which often translates to fail faster.

For instance, if I encounter a team focused on fundraising but have no traction. Rather than lecturing, I’ll share my “killer” 10-page slide deck for pitching investors and offer a review.

As they work through the slides, it becomes apparent quickly that traction matters to investors above all else. And when they see that they can’t create this slide, getting some traction becomes a problem the team now wants to solve.

Wrap up

We’re in the final stretch here. In the next and final installment of this series, I’ll summarize concrete next steps for the team.

The Lean Canvas Diagnostic 7-Part Series TOC

  1. Backstory
  2. Structure
  3. Identify Riskiest Assumptions
  4. Desirability Stress Testing
  5. Viability Stress Testing
  6. Feasibility Stress Testing
  7. Right action, right time

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