On-boarding – Key to a Great First Impression

You really can’t overemphasize that first day at work experience. When I arrived at my first professional job, my new manger eventually came to meet me. The next words as we walked on were: “now, where am I going to put you”. I realized that he hadn’t thought about me after the interview and had done nothing in anticipation of my arrival. I definitely didn’t feel welcomed or that I was part of a team. I’ve never forgotten that first impression.

As a hiring manager you can make sure a new team member is expected and welcomed. After all, they have just gone through a grueling job search process and chose you over another job somewhere else. Have a clean desk with all the equipment they will need and introduce them to everyone, even if they previously interviewed with everyone. Have an on-boarding agenda that lets the new person spend time with each team member and start them immediately on a first project. Arrange for lunch on the first day and make sure they find their way around. Introduce them outside of the immediate team and with other people whom they will work with. Consider an after-hours team meetup with the new person before their actual start date. Do all of this is in addition to HR’s on-boarding process.

“Life is not a dress rehearsal.”
~Rose Tremain

5-Day Rapid Prototyping
Daniel Burka – Google Ventures

Breaking Development Conference – Nashville – July 2014
Conference Session: 5-Day Rapid Prototyping and Testing – Build for Speed
Daniel Burka – Google Ventures

I’m not sure which Breaking Development session was my favorite but I could really relate to the information about rapid prototyping presented by Daniel Burka of Google Ventures. I was first introduced to rapid prototyping in 1986. The concept is the same today but we have now learned to include the client and customers directly in developing the solution in order to be successful. Amen.

This was an excellent session on rapid prototyping and, more importantly, about quickly getting to a high quality decision on the viability of an idea. Daniel Burka is with Google Ventures, the VC arm of Google. He has prior history with Digg and Milk, both of which are startups by Kevin Rose. Rose is a General Partner of Google Ventures.

A 5-day Rapid Prototype sprint can be applied to many different business ideas, technical or not. The presentation at #BDConf was based upon applying the process toward improving overall sales at Blue Bottle Coffee, based in San Francisco.

5-day Rapid Prototype:

Day-1: Put pressure on the team up front. On Monday, invite 5 prospective/customers to evaluate the prototype on Friday. Five is enough to provide an adequate evaluation and to complete the eval in one day.

Analyze: Dig into the design problem through research, client interviews, and strategy exercises. The client also participates. Listen and learn. The team includes both client and Google Venture folks. Build user flows, look for patterns and thoroughly understand the problems, constraints, and goals.

Day 2: Start to design solutions – but don’t group-think or brainstorm. Rapidly develop as many solutions as possible. Create multiple, individual solutions. By end of day two you want 10 to 20 divergent solutions. Actually write the copy, make sketches that can be matched to real images for build, and sketch out and document each idea thoroughly so that it can be directly prototyped.

Day 3: Select from among the ideas, as whole solutions or an amalgam of ideas. This is not a democratic process. Everyone votes with blue dots on mock-up sketches. All ideas compete and are pitted against others in a bake-off. Executives and leaders who are most responsible get extra/super-votes (e.g. red dots). Being democratic will water down the ideas, just like brainstorming creates design-by-committee solutions. By end of day three you want your three best options.

Day 4: Build the Prototype, usually as a website and/or mobile site mockup: Burkas demo of a low fidelity prototype was actually very graphically rich. Keynote or Power Point make good prototyping options (Keynotopia). Make the prototype clickable, with design elements to simulate real web pages. Use a technique that also makes the demo viewable on a smartphone, tablet and laptop PC.

Day 5: Validate: Show the prototype to the people you invited on Monday to learn what works and what doesn’t work. Again, keep it simple. Burka talked about using a USB camera to view and record phone interaction, over-the shoulder of the customer/test client. No 2-way mirrors and lab coats.

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You may also want to read about Google Ventures’ Rapid Prototyping process as documented by Google Ventures and at Venture Beat:

The Product Design Sprint, 5-day Recipe for Startups (Google Ventures Methodology)
Jake Knapp – Design Partner Google Ventures

How Google Ventures Does Rapid Prototyping ‘Design Sprints’ With its 170 Startups

Here’s a link to a video of the presentation: Video: 5-Day Rapid Prototyping – Google Ventures


“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
~Albert Einstein




Startup Checklist

There is a lot information available about how to setup and run a small business. Here are a few resource links that float to the top. Theses are aimed at setting up shop from an operational perspective.

The following list provides money-saving ideas and resources for operating a small business or website startup. Please feel free to suggest ideas that have worked for you in the comments section.

Print: Vistaprint.com
Free Phone Number: Google Voice
Email: Google Gmail
Hosting: Winhost.com, Arvixe.com, too many to list…
Blog: WordPress, Blogger
Productivity: DropBox
Communication: iStockPhoto
Self-ed: W3Schools
Social: LinkedIn
SEO: Google Web Analytics
SEO: SEOMoz.org
SEO: SearchengineLand.com
SEO: Google Webmaster Tools
Productivity: EverNote
Communication: SlideShare
Shameless self-Promotion: SortFolio
Productivity: Dragon Naturally Speaking
Tech: Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Tech: Amazon S3 Cloud Storage
Productivity: SalesForce.com
Productivity: Google Docs
PDF Printer: PrimoPDF Continue reading