Define your scope.

Just after I had graduated university, I was in a meeting at work and someone mentioned the word scope with regards to what we were planning to do. I stopped for a moment, and wondering exactly what this person actually meant. My internal monologue was one of embarrassed curiosity..”What does he mean, scope? I’ve never really understood that term. I should know this. What does he mean?”.

Since then, I have a much better understanding of scope, and reckon it is the single most important factor that defines those projects that go well, and those that do not.

If you have scope, you should be able to clearly define the one core thing your project, or new business, is making happen. It’s the essence of your idea, and the clarifying reason for your actions.

When you’re beginning a new project, or when getting the team together, your first task is to think about what you’re going to do. This is normally accompanied by grandiouse ideals about saving the planet, creating the latest and greatest in web technology or perhaps just beginning world domination. Forget it. That won’t help.

Instead, your first task should be to figure out the one core thing you will do. And, once you have that on paper, list the things you WON’T do. That is the key to scope. Mick Liubinskas, from Pollenizer, recently ran a focus workshop in Melbourne where he goes into more detail about being focused and defining scope. Check out his slides here, it’s a great resource. .Some examples of scope?

1) Trampoline doesn’t serve lunch.

At Trampoline, we don’t provide lunch. Why? It’s not that we don’t want people to eat – it’s purely a fact that organising and creating infrastructure around catering to 150 people, all with differing diets, is THE nightmare of organising an event. It would double the effort involved in organising Trampoline, and it’s actually not a core requirement.

So…we just ask people to provide their own lunch. Some bring it. Others buy it. But more excitingly, as occurred at Trampoline 2 and 3, some people organised to cook and bring their own vegitarian cook-up.

2) The Flip camcorder does one thing. Video.

The Flip is brilliant because of its scope. The Flip only has one, big red, record button. Once you’ve finished recording something, it has a USB stick that flips out (hence the name) to download your film quickly to your computer, in a web-friendly file format. Consider how hard it is to actually do that core action with most other digital cameras. I always manage to lose the cord you need to use to get your video onto your computer. And once I do get it downloaded, it’s always in a file format that my computer can read. Flip simplified that core offering, and did it really well. The results? This Wired artcile says Flip has captured 13% of the camcorder market. .

When you’re next thinking about making something happen, or fear that you’re forcing something, think first about your scope. What won’t you do? What is the one thing you will focus on making happen, above everything else? Once you have that and you start down the path of just making that happen, you’ll be happy regardless of what happens.

Starting Up.

Pete Yandell gave a great talk, entitled Starting Up, at Trampoline the other week and I liked it so much I thought I’d share a few thoughts on the topic and share a few of Pete’s more salient points.

1) What is it, in one line?

One of the points Pete raised was to tell people what your product is about and to be very clear when doing it. He talked about the power of a great ‘one liner’ and discussed his own little start up – Monkey On Your Back. Eg:

 “Monkey on Your Back is your to-do list for things that you want other people to do.”

I’ve used ‘Monkey On’ before and love it for it’s simplicity. And the above ‘one liner’ captures it perfectly.



2) Tell people how it works.

This one is one of my favourites from Bokardo and Josh Porter. It’s so easy, yet almost no one does it. Tell people, simply, how your business/idea/product actually works. Use a 1,2,3 step approach. Monkey On Your Back does this too, and it’s fantastic for initial users. This concept is just as crucial for brick and mortar stores too. Be clear. By telling people how your product works, you inherently tell them what it is.

3) Do your financials.

I wrote a post a few years ago about calculating the key financial figures for your new venture on the back of a napkin in 10 minutes. Pete argued for the same, simple approach. You don’t need MYOB or Quicken – you just need the back of an envelope and some serious contemplation about how your business will actually turn a profit.

Finally, there are heaps of people talking about ‘starting up’ online – here are just a few of my favourite authors, and a favourite post of mine from each of them. You can also watch Pete’s talk on the Trampoline Vimeo Channel.

Being content.

Being content has been a strong topic of thought for me this week, following on from the post last week about being wise. There seems to be a real desire in society not to settle, or be content with ones situation. How often have you heard someone deride another because they settled, or took second best.

Yet in the conversations that have taken place since last week, the discussion has always come back to a place where wisdom stems from someone being content with themselves and their situation in life. It certainly came up in our discussion on Wisdom 2.0 at Trampoline.

Steve Hopkins: Wisdom 2.0 from Trampoline Melbourne on Vimeo.

Why the disconnect? Are you in the perfect job? Perfect relationship? Perfect house? Why not? Do they exist? How can we all practice being content with ourselves in the current moment, rather than continuing to hold frustrations, judgements and thoughts about past or future events?

Over the coming days, observe your thoughts and your language. Is your ego withholding information? Placing yourself on a pedestal where perhaps it’s unnecessary? Is it frustrated by others lack of understanding but their desire to speak anyway?

Chances are, these thoughts are getting in the way of being content, and ultimately being mindful and present. Be the observer – realise that actually nothing is really ‘known’ and learn to accept being content with that.

Thoughts from Trampoline.

Trampoline 3 was held this weekend, and I thought I’d share a few of the threads that really came home to roost for me during the day. I feel like trampoline helps me quickly grok concepts I’ve often wondered about as I listen and bounce thoughts off others in sessions. It exposes me to things I have no idea about.

Trampoline 3 (un)conference Melbourne, 2010-05-02 from Andy Gelme on Vimeo.

Some highlights for me yesterday were:

  • Rachel discussed technology in aged care, and raised some great points. One of which, was our obsession with ‘youth marketing’ – We now have Children, Tweens, Teens, Young adults and Gen Y. But then, when we get to older people, we simply say “+55!!!”. The average life expectancy in Australia is around 80 now…that leaves a large amount of people unaccounted for in our segmentation.
  • I enjoyed discussing the idea of wisdom, and found it to be a growing topic of interest. Thinking about the use of intuition in decision making is also something that was discussed, which I look forward to thinking and chatting more about.
  • Autism is an incredibly more complex topic than I could have ever imagined, and a prejudice I had without understanding why. Thanks to Daniel for the eye-opening conversation we shared in the ballroom in the afternoon.
  • Touch screen technology is fascinating, and I’m intrigued by the idea of these “horrible abstractions” (keyboards and mice) that we’ve all made do with since the birth of computers. Thanks to Keith and Cris for sharing their thoughts and ideas.
  • I’m so proud of Mum for sharing story of her illness for the first time in public.
  • The drumming and beat-boxing lightning sessions at the end really demonstrated to me the idea of inclusion. Every single audience member was only a single unit of a larger whole – in this case a drummer or a beat-boxer. Inclusiveness is upon us. Thanks to Michael and Jared for their creative conducting.

If you couldn’t make the day, check out the photos on the Flickr group, the videos on the Vimeo channel and the tweet stream on Twitter (before it disappears!). Finally, see the Google Group page for the names, contact details and topics discussed yesterday.

A huge thanks to the sponsors that helped make it happen on the day – Donkey Wheel, NodecityPollenizer and Web Directions.  

And lastly, sign up to the mailing list at to hear about Trampoline 4.