Walk the Talk With Your SyncDev Player-Coach
SyncDev is not a series of lectures or exercises on business models, MVP, or customer engagement. Instead, it’s actually doing product and customer development.
The primary source of doing the right thing at the right time is your SyncDev Player-Coach. Like a sports-team or personal-exercise coach yours makes you walk the talk. Coaches use a playbook, select existing and develop new plays, run practice sessions, attend and interject themselves into games, debrief the game, and plan next steps afterward with the team. Your SyncDev coach does the same types of things with you.
The coach’s first step is planning a two-day kickoff meeting with the senior management and product team members. The objectives are to reassess starting prerequisites, review the kickoff meeting objectives and agenda, identify core and full team members, and identify a ‘Product Board of Directors’ to whom the core team will regularly report their progress, issues, and next steps.
Next, the coach runs the non-recurring, two-day kickoff meeting as follows:
Two-Day Kickoff Meeting
- Name team members and their roles
- Review the product mission and history
- Identify primary business model drivers
- Segment the market and name important customers in them
- Set a 90-day SyncDev schedule
- Develop a sales ‘pitch’ that gets the customer talking more than you
- Set two customer meetings two weeks out to lock down the schedule
- Schedule milestone dates for pitch development, setting customer meetings, and dry running the pitch
If your’re new to your market, setting up meetings is the single hardest part of SyncDev and requires using some of our most detailed content. In the kickoff meeting you identified preliminarily who you want to meet with. But now you must decide what people by title to meet with, where, and at what time. You must discover by trial and error who will sponsor your meeting and how you will get to that person. You must know what to say to the sponsor’s gate keeper and to your sponsor to secure a meeting with the right people, the customer’s Decision Making Team (DMT).
The ‘how-to’ of this is in Cliff-Note-like format, Get the Meeting or Get a Restraining Order. The point of the title is that you must meet with the right customers at the times to be productive. It’s important that your team learn to do it, not your coach. SyncDev written content is an important how-to source but your coach has the acquired skill to get your team to do it.
On The Road
This ends the kickoff phase. SyncDev Phase I is Business Case Validation, the goal of which is to recruit ten Charter Customers. This usually requires meeting with 20 to 30 prospects for business products or twice that for consumer products over 60 to 75 days.
The team frequently discovers important business model and product issues in this phase. Pivots are substantive and frequent. The experience and guidance of the coach is important. A typical day in the life of the coach and team is as follows:
Day in the Life With your SyncDev Coach
Asking the Right Questions
Peter Drucker, a now-deceased, prolific business author, said, “You spend the first 25 years of your life learning how to answer questions. Then you spend the rest of your life learning what questions to ask.”
Chances are you’ll know what you want to say. But that’s not where you’ll need most of the help. It will likely come from your coach who will know what questions to ask, when, why, and how.
Reporting Good News and Bad News
Your team with your coach reports to your management regularly, after every few customer meetings. If the news is good, managements and boards can be a business’s worst enemy. They may want to scale prematurely, especially if sales and earnings are down. The SyncDev coach helps with the itchy trigger finger.
Bad news early is good news, bad news late is always bad. Most teams tend to inadvertently mitigate their speech in describing bad news which is also bad. If news is so bad that no amount of pivoting is likely to produce a good outcome, you learn it quickly, shut down, and redeploy. Nothing is worse than slow failure. The coach’s role in this unhappy scenario is in communicating clearly the bad news and with the management team figuring out what to do about it.