Open invitation to Playing Lean

If you are as passionate about Lean Startup as me, this is your opportunity!

Some friends and I are working on a physical board game where you teach the Lean Startup methodology while playing. By popular demand we are now opening up for online collaboration.

When I first wrote about Playing Lean, we already had this in mind: “We want to make this game the best it can be by tapping into the shared knowledge of the Lean startup Movement, and continuing to iterate the game through customer co-creation”.

Since we first started, we have played the game face to face with startup enthusiasts at different events and forums in Houston, San Francisco and Oslo. This has allowed us to iterate and evolve fast. Now we are ready for open online collaboration!

If you want to be part of this:

  • Follow us on Twitter (@playinglean) to find out when and where we will be playing the game.
  • Check out the Google Docs folder Playing Lean: Open Innovation where you can find all about the game. Here you will find the following categories under “Version 2.0”:
    • Rulebook
    • Logbook
    • Facilitator Playbook
    • Industry cards
    • Event cards
    • Resource Cards
    • Tiles
    • Scoreboard
    • Innovation Accounting form
    • Co-founder Cards

→ If you have suggestions or feedback please make a copy of the document you want to comment on and rename it with [your name] + [document title]


Introducing the team

Simen Fure Jørgensen

Jørgensen has extensive experience with start-up and development of IT companies in Norway. He was co-founder of IT company Iterate AS, which since its inception in 2007 has grown to be a solid work space for 40 employees.

He will use his professional expertise in innovation and entrepreneurship for the development of the game concept. Furthermore, Jørgensens education degree in computer science and experience in a wide range of development projects to be crucial for the construction of the digital edition.

Catherine Kahn

Catherine Kahn is engaged as experience designer. Kahn has a double master’s degree with honors, respectively in Experience Design and Performance Design from Central St. Martins College of Art & Design in England.

Kahn will be engaged to assist the company to build the bridge between the physical game and the online version. Kahn will use her expertise in transmedia storytelling techniques and communicate the learning from the game through multiple platforms and formats.

Robert Gustafsson

Newly examined bachelor student in Marketing and Sales Management, Robert has high expectations on himself and the things he does. He loves to try new challenges and get out of his comfort zone. Positive, caring and humorous he has respect for fellow human beings and it is important for him to have a cooperation that will work for both parties and to be able to give and take what could be shared.

Patricia Almeida

Patricia Almeida is a Business Psychologist passionate about technology and innovation. She has several years of experience in the design and development of computerized assessment environments as well as in statistical data analysis. She has conducted research internationally in the areas of intelligence, personality, group psychology, entrepreneurship and vocational interests. She wrote her master thesis in entrepreneurship and she is committed to identifying, developing and supporting entrepreneurial potential.

Sebastian Hemgren

Sebastian is an experienced graphic designer. He has worked and collaborated in several startups and he is an active member of the startup community in Oslo.

Tore Rasmussen

I (Tore Rasmussen) is a graduate student at Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) and writes my thesis on the learning outcomes of the game in my thesis in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

I have extensive expertise in social media and marketing and will use this knowledge to lead the  launch of the game on Kickstarter.


I would like to use this opportunity to thank all those how have help develop the game so far.  A special thanks go to those that participated at Startup Weekend Houston Maker Edition: David Torreggiani, Jesus Hinojosa, Kit Leung, Thuy Vu, and Reginald Garrett II

Startup Weekend Oslo: Tom Haugeplass, Sebastian Hemgren, Brage Olsen Mathias. Oldani og Marcus Morken.

Also a special thanks to Allan Lund Hansen for all the work he put in during the Lean Startup Machine in San Francisco.

The Lean Startup is a trademark and service mark owned by Eric Ries and has no affiliation to this project.

The game is consider the intellectual property of Lean Friends AS.

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Du er påmeldt!

Gratulere med å ha sikret deg plass som 1 av 16 til å spille Playing Lean på StartupCamp i Forskingsparken i dag!

Spillet testes på meetupen i Parken Bakeri fra kl. 16.00




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Introducing The Entrepreneurship Game

The Entrepreneurship Game (working title) is a tabletop game about launching a service or a product. The goal of the game is two folded, a) that the players will learn the key essentials about the Lean Startup Methodology and b) that the game itself is highly playable.

We want to make this game the best it can be by tapping into the shared knowledge in the Lean startup Movement, and continuing to iterate the game though customer co-creation.

This means that we are seeking feedback from both Lean Startup practitioners and those who are interested in learning about the methodology.

That being said the game will not be published under a Creative Commons license so the content described regarding this game is consider the intellectual property of me (Tore Rasmussen) and Simen Fure Jørgensen.

Playtesting sneak and peek


Photo: Tristan Kromer, Simen Fure Jørgensen and Tore Rasmussen playtesting the game in March. Location: Mesh, Norway.



Photo: Nicholas Mercer provides great feedback on the playability of the game. April. Location: RED Labs, University of Houston.

Stay in the loop

For those who are in Houston, I will participate at Startup Weekend Maker Edition there in April the 25th – 27th. Reach out to me it you want to playtest the game.

Not in Houston? Don’t despair, If you are in Oslo Simen would love to talk to you.

Not in Houston or in Oslo? We are on Skype. :-)


The Lean Startup is a trademark and service mark owned by Eric Ries and has no affiliation to this project.



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Walking on Water, being Crazy and doing things bigger and better: Three Key Takeaways From Interviewing Rovio CMO Peter Vesterbacka at Slush 2013

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to go to the Slush startup conference in Finland, which according to its founder, CMO and Mighty Eagle at Rovio (Angry Birds) Peter Vesterbacka, has become: “the best startup event on the planet organized completely by the community, by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs.”

I have not been at many startup conferences to be the judge of that, however it was good enough to convince me I to definitely come back next year and I encourage you to do the same.

The conference was organized by Startup Sauna, an accelerator based in Aalto University’s campus in Espoo, a suburb of Helsinki. This year was the sixth annual conference with 6,000 attendees, representing nearly 1,200 companies. One fun fact is that Slush is the biggest gathering of Swedish startups on the planet.

With a press accreditation I was allowed to a 21 minute long interview with Peter Vesterbacka. He was honest and spoke his mind. Beware; when the title on your Business card is Mighty Eagle, sky is the limit. 


1. To walk on water is easy, and a must for survival

A small gaming company has made 51 games and is one the brink of bankruptcy. What do they do? They make one more.

People ask me how did you make Angry Birds successful, how did that happen, and I say actually it is very easy, at Rovio we have 800 people that can walk on water, so it is very easy, and they say what do you mean walk on water? I say we have 800 people that believe; they know that they can walk on water because no one have showed them otherwise. Of course they can walk on water, of course we can have a hundred million downloads. Not to become too biblical because in Finland it is easy to walk on water, because it is frozen.

What was different with Angry Birds compared to the 51 games before?  

I think it is more attention to details, one big thing; it is not so much about the game than that the distribution changed. Before Angry Birds no IPhone, no appstore, the IPhone and the appstore changed everything. We could start distributing directly to our fans. I think that was the biggest change and of course Angry Birds is a great game, I mean it is a evergreen, powerful characters, very accessible, addictive and very rewarding, so it is a combination of many things, but mostly it is about walking on water. 


2. Have crazy ambitious goals

I have been involved with startups for a long time, almost 20 years. What drives me and what drives entrepreneurs is that we are crazy people; we want to change the world. If you look at this Slush event I told everybody in 2008 that this would be the best startup event on the planet Today it is the best startup event on the planet organized completely by the community, by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs.

Doing crazy thinks like that, going for a hundred million downloads for Angry Birds, people at Rovio and outside of Rovio everybody thought that I was crazy, and I probably am, hopefully in a good way. I have super ambitious targets for everything. 

How does your high ambitions impact the daily decision-making?

If you look at Rovio and if you look at Slush the ambition and passion is very contagious, you start to have people that believe that they can do anything. I think it really comes back to the attitude, you have to have courage you can’t be afraid to try crazy new things, crazy is good.


3. Try to do things bigger and better every day

We don’t talk about innovation at Rovio at all because everything we do is innovative.

I think a lot of companies that are talking about innovation are talking about something that they don’t have. At Rovio we don’t worry about innovation because we do new innovating things every day. We did Angry Birds Space, we launched in space, huge innovation but we don’t call it innovation, we just did it.

We try to do things differently every day, we try to do things bigger and better every day and that is way you will always hear me say “yea fine, we have two billions downloads that is a good start.” Because our ambition is much much bigger.We are never happy, we are never content, we are super hungry.


Have something to add to this story? Share in the comments.

Images: Christer Hansen Eriksen

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Which universities teach lean startup techniques?

I have asked the following question on Quora:

Which universities teach lean startup techniques?

In the article “Why the Lean Startup Changes Everything” Steve Blank write that “The lean start-up method is now being taught at more than 25 univiersityes and through a popular online course at Udacity”

Do you know the answer?



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Congratulations, you are in the loop

Do you want to buy a lottery ticket that can award you with a 5% ownership in a high-tech startup? Are you a founder of a startup and would like to get founded thru a lottery?

Startup Lottery is in the making, however if you have been linked to this page you have “won” the opportunity to follow the company from idea to launch.

We are now in the process of documenting interest for the concept and applying to startup accelerator programs.

Stay tuned and be an insider on our journey to revolutionise the way startups get funded.

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Synopsisoppgave ved Handelshøyskolen BI: Hvilke barrierer bør man være bevisst ved implementering av Lean Startup metodikken?

Jeg har skrevet en oppgave om hvilke barrierer bør man være bevisst ved implementering av Lean Startup metodikken.

Oppgaven (ORG 20001) er obligatorisk og en del av Leadership in Action – Avsluttende
bachelorprogram i ledelse (ORG 2000). Ansvarlig institutt er Innovasjon og økonomisk organisering.

For de som er over middels interessert i Lean Startup anbefaler jeg at man investerer $6.95 og kjøper “Hypothesis-Driven Entrepreneurship: The Lean Startup.” fra Harvard Business School Background Note 812-095, March 2012.

Videre anbefaler jeg Anders Gustafson og Jonas Qvillberg sin Masteroppgave; “Implementing Lean Startup Methodology” hvor de blant annet har en briljant oppsummering av Lean Startup.  (Side 20-21)

God lesning!

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Yeehawd! The Most Addictive Atheist Card Game Ever?

Some friends of my launched their Kickstarter project today – Yeehawd! The fun family game about Holy War.

I have had the privilege of play testing the prototype and it was truly a great game experience.

Technically the game are as follows:

The purpose of the game is to collect as many followers to your faith as possible before Armageddon™ to secure your place in the Afterlife™.

Every game is divided into seven chapters, in which the Prophets use their spiritual connection, as shown by their available Mana, to play Verse cards. A new chapter card is drawn and resolved at the start of each new round.

There are four different types of Verse cards.

  1. Acts of God: Cards that negatively affect the other players
  2. Miracles: Cards that affect you in a positive way
  3. Disbelief: Cards that cancel or in other ways affect Miracle or Faith cards
  4. Faith: Cards that cancel or in other ways affect Acts of God or Disbelief cards

A Prophet might not have enough Mana to play a card, but he may choose to Sacrifice™ a Follower card to gain extra Mana. This might be effective, but risky, since your Followers are the source of your Mana income at end of each Chapter.

At the end of the game the Prophet with the most followers wins the game, and the rest of you get a ticket to that hot fiery place downstairs. However, should two or more prophets be tied to win, they are all annihilated in a furious Holy War™ and the next prophet in line wins the game. A game usually takes anything from 30 minutes to an hour depending on how many players you have.

So enough endorsement from me, check it out for yourself at

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This is so well-written that I had to reblog it:


By yongfook (Jon Yongfook Cockle)

I predict the next big buzzword will be pre-commerce.

In simple terms, pre-commerce is “buying stuff that doesn’t exist yet”.

In more grown-up words, it’s a framework for companies to cheaply establish market demand for a new product idea and acquire the cash flow to produce it.

Pre-commerce is the retail industry answer to the startup industry “MVP” methodology. In Silicon Valley and its extended kingdom, the MVP or Minimum Viable Product is a method used by budding entrepreneurs to evaluate their ideas in a cheap and risk-free manner.

One example of how an MVP can manifest is dummy landing pages. An entrepreneur with an idea puts up a single-page website describing a problem and a solution with a “Buy Now!” button that does nothing when you click on it. If it gets a high number of clicks then the hypothesis is validated (people want to buy this thing!) and the entrepreneur is in a much safer position to invest in actually building the solution for real. It’s an effective antidote to the nightmare scenario of spending months building something that it turns out nobody damn wants.

If an MVP is for software, pre-commerce is for physical goods. I believe pre-commerce has direct and immediately beneficial applications to the FMCG, electronics, fashion and entertainment industries but is yet to be adopted outside of the indie development world.

A pre-commerce campaign can simply take this format:

1) Establish the idea to the consumer

This can take the form of a website or a video. No physical product has been created at this point or at the most, a one-off physical prototype has been created to demonstrate the idea better. For pre-commerce to make sense, this stage needs to be performed cheaply.

2) Make an offer to the consumer

A common offer is buy this now at a discount and get it shipped to you first when we make the first batch.

3) Evaluate market viability

If enough sales are made, shift the idea into manufacturing phase with your new funds. If there are not enough sales, your proposal is not in demand so kill the idea and refund everyone’s money.

By adopting pre-commerce a company can trade risk and cost for liquidity – all the while being more socially engaging. A pre-commerce campaign will help validate your product idea: not enough people transacting? That probably means your product idea is crappy and you shouldn’t move to the manufacturing phase anyway. Hooray, you’ve saved millions of dollars. Pre-commerce makes product development decidedly more science than art.

With new platforms for commerce, one player always establishes itself as the incumbent. The competitive advantage at the platform level is scale, for example with auctions it is eBay, with online classifieds it is Craigslist and with group buying it is Groupon. With pre-commerce it is Kickstarter, where projects that are little more than an idea or a prototype with a good team can now raise millions of dollars in pre-commerce sales. That said there is absolutely still scope for pre-commerce to run successfully on more specialized verticals or on brand-owned channels – after all, pre-commerce works best when it reaches a highly targeted audience.

Lets explore what pre-commerce is and isn’t.

Pre-commerce is not Crowd-sourcing an Idea

By running a pre-commerce campaign you are not obligating yourself to ongoing customer development regarding what the product should be. Some campaigns are run like this and it can be an incentive for consumer buy-in if they feel they will be part of the product development process. However, some of the most successful pre-commerce campaigns have been when a team puts forward a well-formed idea, demonstrates the ability to execute and simply says: let us know if this is something you want.

Pre-commerce is not Crowd-funding

Pre-commerce should have a deliverable associated with it. The consumer should receive a tangible benefit should the campaign be successful. This is different to raising funds for a cause – Pre-commerce campaigns should be a success or a failure based simply on market demand.

Pre-commerce is not Pre-ordering

In video game development pre-ordering is a common sales strategy at the retail level. However pre-ordering in this context is never a lever for evaluating product viability and it is certainly not used as a method for funding manufacturing. Pre-orders are simply used by retailers to establish consumer lock-in and loyalty. By the time a game is ready for pre-order it is well into development and the video game developer has already gone through a costly research phase behind closed doors to establish market demand.

Pre-commerce is not Focus Groups

One can argue that if pre-commerce is about establishing demand then focus groups already serve that purpose. The point of pre-commerce is to leverage the digital landscape (social, e-commerce) to conduct an open, massively scalable focus group who can purchase immediately. It’s an open conversation not something that happens internally at R&D meetings with two-way mirrors.

Pre-commerce is a Transaction

Unlike an MVP, pre-commerce works best when there is an actual transaction. Pre-commerce is not voting, it’s not clicking a Like button. It’s a consumer saying “I will buy this now” even though the consumer knows that there is a risk it won’t be produced at all (in which case they get their money back) and that the timeline to produce it is uncertain.

Pre-commerce is Social

Pre-commerce is about openly getting out there in front of real customers in existing social channels. It’s about listening to customers on a massive scale, learning what they want and acting on their feedback. It’s about creating groups of consumers who love your idea who can evangelize it to their friends who also might like the idea, further increasing the viability of your idea.

Pre-commerce is Testing

Businesses need to be aware that pre-commerce is a test. Sometimes you’re going to get your hypothesis wrong and that’s ok, especially if real consumers are part of the equation. If your pre-commerce campaign fails, you will have saved considerable costs and learned more about your customers – all the while having a conversation with them. For any business, this is a net win.

I believe that e-commerce has reached a tipping point. In the last 10 years we have slowly been creating or improving various consumer behaviors:

  • More people are buying things online
  • The social landscape means there is increased accountability and therefore consumer safety
  • Internet scale means it is cheaper than ever for niche ideas to find their target audience

These three factors have given rise to pre-commerce. I believe that not only will pre-commerce diversify beyond Kickstarter into specialized verticals, but also that it will become an entirely normal consumer behavior and will be accepted as a form of commerce for a business’ smaller projects or passion projects. I think we are about 18 months away from seeing a major brand adopting pre-commerce as a means for selling a new line of footwear, diversifying into a new category of electronic product or selling subscriptions to a yet-to-be-created TV series.

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Coursera Gamification class of 27th August 2012 Written assignment 2

Project Part II: Motivation

This week’s scenario:

You are approached by Ryan Morrison, the mayor of a medium-sized city in the Midwest of the United States. He has heard that you know a lot about gamification and believes that gamification techniques can transform city government.

He would like to start with the health of city employees.  The city has 50,000 employees and they happen to have exactly the same rates of obesity as the U.S. average: 34.4% overweight (but not obese) and 33.9% of them are obese.  53.1% of the city’s employees do not meet the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines for aerobic physical activity and 76% of them fail to meet the Guidelines for muscle-strengthening activity.  The city pays for health benefits for its employees and this cost is a huge part of the city budget.  Economists in Mayor Morrison’s office have estimated that a 3% improvement in the average physical fitness of city employees would amount to a US$94 million reduction in annual city health costs; a 5% improvement would save US$188 million.

Describe in general terms a gamified system that could effectively motivate behavior change to address the challenge presented above. Specifically, explain how the system would effectively incorporate intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, or both.

Your answer should address the fact that this is an internal gamification project, targeted at the institutional goals of the city government.  The system can use any technology (or no technology!), so long as the resources required seem justified by the scope of the opportunity.
My submission:

In this paper I will show how the city government can use gamification to effectively motivate behavior change among its 50,000 employees, by incorporating a social wellness service called ShapeUp.

The theoretical framework is based on Self Determination Theory.

According to their blog post “Innovations Transforming Corporate Wellness: Gaming” ShapeUp is using gamification in the following way:

“Social wellness companies like ShapeUp are designing packaged games that have different themes, use different gaming mechanics, and have different rules. All of this combines to drive people to change their behavior and achieve their health goals, whether they are focused on physical activity, nutrition, or preventive care. And the best part is that this is that it doesn’t have to be top-down programming; what is really innovative is when employees design the games themselves. For example, social wellness platforms enable an employee to challenge a colleague to go jogging today. And then they can track if the goal was accomplished, perhaps evening winning a prize for their accomplishment, depending on how the competition is structured and the gaming dynamics that are in play..

[This implies that the city government can use one serviceeven though there are two segments; a) the 1/3 who are overweight but not obese and b) those who are obese. By allowing the users to define the challenges themselves the program is meant to create intrinsic motivation]  

..What’s great about games is that not only will they ramp up employee engagement in your corporate wellness program, but they also promote tracking, which is a great way for those of us in the corporate wellness space to achieve our goals.  We know that when people set personal goals and track their progress toward reaching these goals, they’re much more likely to succeed. Behavior change research has demonstrated this. With daily tracking data, individuals get insights, and can make day-to-day adjustments based on their performance. Games get people tracking, as they have a new, engaging reasons to do so. In many instances, they will even want to share their results so they can inspire their team. This provides a feeling of obligation to all team members, and suddenly people are tracking all of their different health metrics over time.”

The program can work as a variable schedule reward machine; giving the participants a Skinnerian “rat in a box dopamine addiction” but within a self made structure, based on social interaction and meaningful growth for the users.

The institutional goals for the city government should therefore be to allow the workers full autonomy of the program, and only facilitate it by:

  1. Paying for it.
  2. Having healthy food in the cafeterias.
  3. Setting up shower rooms so that workers can run or cycle to work.
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