Last night I attended the first monthly meeting of the San Francisco Lean Startup Circle.

Actually, I attended the first meeting of the San Francisco Lean Startup Circle reboot. The community had lain fallow for a couple of years, after Eric Ries came to town and distracted everybody. It was also around the time that I got hurt and basically had to drop out of life for a while. So when I wrote to the organizers late last year about restarting the unconferences, and got a reply back that Javid had already secured an ongoing space sponsor and everything, it seemed kismet. I jumped in with both feet.

The events run on an Open Space format, and as with all Open Space -like events the agenda and organization of the discussions are created by the participants. This means they’re unpredictable. I ended up proposing two sessions. One I had spent a lot of time on and arrived with a folder of professional looking materials. The second I basically pulled out of my butt when Jane stuck a proposal sheet under my nose saying we needed more sessions. The polished proposal got one vote. The spur-of-the-moment proposal had many. Which just goes to show that you can never tell with unconferences.

The improvised session was called Creating a Testable Business Hypothesis, and we discussed the S.M.A.R.T. formula, how to counteract confirmation bias, and various participants’ stories about running experiments. Enough happened that I’m probably going to make a full class out of it. Sign up for my newsletter if you want to be part of the group that I run the practice class on, it should be pretty interesting.

Javid led a popular session on Conducting User Interviews where we talked about the discrepancy between what users predict about the behavior of their future selves and the actual behavior when describing how and why a past self behaved in the same situation. Of particular interest was the technique of grounding a user’s memory on a past event by calling up seemingly trivial details which greatly increased their recall and veracity.
Other popular sessions included How to Find a Co-Founder, “Soft Skills” are Actually Hard (Leading Product Teams), Empathy in a Lean Startup, and Build-Measure-Learn. I wasn’t able to make it to any of these, but they sounded interesting. Maybe next time. I also saw someone with an expensive camera taking photos at the beginning. You can view those here.

The Lean Startup Circle Rides Again!