Planting Season vs Harvest Season

How to set up deliberate experimentation with current ideas to harvest more for your business in the future

Planting season vs Harvest Season

Two new self-paced courses available -- Lean UX and OKRs

Joinin the June release of my latest course on Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) is a brand new self-paced course on Lean UX and Product Discovery for Agile Teams from Josh Seiden and myself. Both courses are made up of high-quality videos, interactive exercises and short quizzes to help you get the basics of each practice down on your own, with your team and entire organization.

Single seats for the OKR course are available here for $249 and Lean UX seats start at $599. If you want to purchase a group of 10 or more seats or a site-wide license for your company, reach out and let me know.

Hey folks --

A couple of years ago I met up with Alex Osterwalder for the first time at the Lean Startup Conference in Amsterdam. I’d known about Alex of course and read his books and I was excited to chat with him in person. I found him to be generous and friendly. Our conversation stayed focused on mostly professional topics including building, running and maintaining a consulting business. Alex introduced me to a concept that I wasn’t explicitly aware of before. He said that, with any business, you have to think of it like farming, “There is a planting season and there is a harvest season.”Clarifying, he said that planting season is the time where you invest in your business and your ideas. This is the time for experimentation, innovation and, most importantly, creation. In a metaphorical but very real way you are explicitly making the time and effort to “plant the seeds of the next season of your work.” You start to consider things like:

  • Where is the professional conversation headed?

  • What can I contribute to it now?

  • What don’t I know that I need to learn in order to stay in that conversation?

  • How can I continue to meet the needs of my customers as they change and evolve in the face of current events?

  • What are new delivery channels I might explore to help reach a broader audience?

  • How might I differentiate myself in the coming season?

  • What should I maintain and perhaps invest in further?

Armed with these questions, you then use planting season to create and run your experiments. You plant some seeds (not entire fields) and see what grows, where there might be interest and where you might want to invest further. These “seeds” can include:

  • content experiments (tweets, LinkedIn articles, short blog posts, threads, etc)

  • marketing experiments (landing page tests for new services, email list sign up pages for new content, etc)

  • testing some new product or service offerings at a small scale (offer an existing client a free trial of something you’ve considered offering)

  • Creating new materials like talks, presentations, podcasts or books and sharing clips and snippets as you go along (i.e., creating in public)

  • …and anything else you might be considering as you evolve your practice forward

As the data starts to come in on these seeded experiments you get a sense of what you’ll actually double down on in the future. That future is your harvest season. The seeds that have born fruit — the ones that have resonated with an early audience, generated a meaningful level of interest or evolved into a more relevant offering — these are the ones we harvest. Idea harvesting is different in that we’re not “cutting down” the ideas in a finite quantity but rather we are doubling-down our investment in those ideas with the express purpose of growing them further, distributing them further and exploiting their potential. This is when we market, advertise, sell and deliver.Consulting businesses (and arguably most businesses) are cyclical. There is a clear ebb and flow to the work. Looking at these cycles in terms of planting and harvesting seasons makes it easier to give ourselves permission to take the foot of the gas for a bit, explore some new directions, collect new data and then push forward with renewed confidence and energy. It not only renovates what we offer our market and audience in a more relevant and timely way, it reinvigorates us and the work that we do so that we’re always delivering the best work of our lives.



New on the blog:

How to use the Lean UX Canvas and How To Prioritize Hypotheses for Testing -- I started making video posts. These two short videos get tactical in how to get through a Lean UX canvas exercise and how to decide which hypotheses to test and which to throw away. Take a look.Inspect and adapt, with respect -- Most agilists have heard the phrase "go to the gemba" or "go to where the actual work takes place." Fewer have heard the other half of that phrase -- with respect. In this short post I discuss how to go to the gemba with the utmost respect for the people you're observing and why that's so important to your and their success.Two recent posts related to my most recent book, Forever Employable, have been on the topic of building equity in yourself and rethinking your career trajectory in terms of systems thinking so that you become a magnet for career opportunities. I'd love to know what you think.

In the past few months we've had the pleasure over at Sense & Respond Press to publish Social By Design by Mark Britz and James Tyer.

OKR's in Spanish

Continuing on my quest to improve my Spanish and offer content to the spanish-speaking world, I recorded my self-paced OKR workshop in Spanish. It's the exact same content as the English-language version. If you have teams in Spanish speaking countries struggling with OKR's, take a look at the course here.

What I'm liking at the moment:

Listen: Dixon -- There's a time and place for every musical style and EDM is no exception. Having seen him DJ live sets multiple times in various places I'm convinced Dixon is one of the best.

Watch: Ted Lasso Season 2 -- Season 1 about the American football coach who goes to England to coach a failing soccer team while knowing nothing about the sport was so good. Jason Sudeikis is brilliant and comes back strong in Season 2.

Read: Good Talk: How to design conversations that matter by Daniel Stillman -- Full disclosure, Daniel is my friend and colleague. His book focuses on creating the kinds of interactions that produce the best results. It's clear and practical and well written. What more could you want?

As always, if you want me to work directly with your company on training, coaching or workshops on the topics of organizational agility, digital transformation, product discovery and agile leadership, don’t hesitate to reach out.Like this newsletter? Forward it to a friend.


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