Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ryan LS1

Intro: The Lean Startup is a book about 21st century management.  How does building a FRC robot and running a FRC team run into the same challenges Eric Ries identified in modern businesses? How is our FRC team a group of entrepreneurs?

Answer: Just like modern busniess, the obstacles we run into as a team are very much alike. We may work hard and put a lot of effort into our startup robot, other teams around us may finish faster, or make a "better" robot than ours. Even rookie teams can find further sucess than teams such as us, who have had almost four years of experience. With every year, we are dealt a new challenge and have a very restricted amount of time to work with to make our product work, just like with modern business, the economy changes constantly and leaves little to no time to get with the current trends.

An entrepeneur is someone who organizes and operates a business. These people take very serious risks, both financialy, and economically.This is rings very true with members in an FRC team. They use their limited financial resources to build their robot and use business connections to get their name out there and hopefully create some publicity for their team.

Chapter 1: What is productivity?  When building a FRC robot, what specifically is productivity? Based on this definition, was our team productive during the last build season?

Productivity is the quality and effectiveness of a productive effort. In an FRC definition, productivity is building a highly trained and skilled team of students that can simulteaneously build a great robot and build on their own character. This season showed an unmeasurable amount of productivity. With our connection to McNeilus Steel, we were able to increase our mechanical productivity ten fold, and with the increased size of the team, we could focus on other sections of our team and allocate more time to them. Even at competition, we found ourselves having down time, instead of fixing in-game injuries to our bot, we waited patiently for our bot to be queud.

Chapter 3: What did IMVU assume to be true when they designed their product?  How did customers actually behave?  Was there a faster and cheaper way to learn the lesson they learned?

They assumed that their product would recieve dreadfully negative feedback, every little bug and flawed detail broght to attentio, showing how twrrible their product was. In reality they didn't recieve any feedback, because no one ended up buying it. They could have recieved ideas ffrom their demographic of customers before putting out a product that nobody wanted.

Chapter 3: What is something that we were unsure of last build season that we experimentally validated?  Was there a faster way to learn what we learned?

From a Media standpoint, one thing that puzzled me was our team number location on the bot. Their were very few places that we could place our numbers so they could be seen, by a judge, camera, audience etc. Without interfering with moving parts or areas we needed to see working, we had no place to put our signs, but we used our "u-shape" to our advantage, taping to directional signs on one bar, killing two birds with one stone. I dont believe their was any other way to fix this issue other than experimenting phsycially with our bot.

Chapter 4: Choose the Zappos, HP, Kodak, or Proctor & Gamble case study.  What assumptions did the Zappos founders make when they started their business?  How did they test their assumptions more efficiently than the IMVU team?

Zappos assumed that their would be customers ready to buy shoes if an online shoe store was up and operating. Zappos was far more effeciant because they were observing real customer behavior, they put themselves in a position to interact with real customers and allowed themselves to be surprised by unexpected customer behavior

Summary: So far, the Vision aspect of this book is shining light on problems that all companies have at startup, and it seems to me that these are very similar with the problems we face as an FRC team. It is very important for us to identify these mistakes ahead of time, and take the "Zappos approach" to starting a new FRC season. I am very confident that with our experience and growing leadership skills we can approach this new season with a clear vision, and grow our productivity and quality.


  1. You had a strong comparison between the team and entrepreneurs. Also, I did not think of he number on the bot previously as something that needed to be expiramented with, but thinking back I realize that was a tough solution to find.

  2. I definitely agree with your summary, in that our team has the same problems as many startups, and that they could be fixed by taking the same approach as Zappos, by testing our hypotheses and assumptions to predict and remedy major mistakes before they happen.