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The Sprint Mindset with Douglas Ferguson

“People often wait around for the “perfect” data.” – Douglas Ferguson

Simon: Hello everybody! Welcome to the Strategy Show! In this episode we are going to interview Douglas Ferguson.

Douglas: Howdy! 

Simon: In this series, we are going to cover three topics: The Sprint Mindset, How to have better meetings, and Innovation Narratives. Welcome to the show Douglas! Where are you right now?

Douglas: I’m in Austin, Texas and it’s a little chilly.

Simon: Can you describe a little bit of what you do to our audience?

Douglas: I run an agency called Voltage Control and we are a workshop agency. We help people run workshops to work better together, reimagine our meeting culture, get past problems we have with making decisions and just face...

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The Social Media Plan

#AskSimon 5 Fabiana from Rio

Hi Simon, this is Fabiana from Rio de Janeiro. I run a professional services firm in Rio I find social media a waste of time, but now that I am a freelancer I kind of can’t ignore it anymore. You seem to have fun with it, can you give me some advice on how and where to start?

Two things resonate with me: Is social media a waste of time? Can it be fun?

I used to say “social notworking” because I thought it was a waste of time.

I changed my mind.

We live in the age of leverage and the currency is attention. Energy flows where attention goes. 

Is it a waste of time to look at what other people eat or where they vacation? Yes it is.

But what if instead of trying to reach more people, we would try to REACH PEOPLE MORE

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How to Sprint - The 6 Stages

Anatomy of a sprint

We can’t do it every week. We have trouble with the marathon that is our daily life sometimes. But a controlled, intense sprint might surprise you. It can show you what you can do when you put your heart and soul into something. When you decide – for a dedicated period of time – to really care. And let nothing stop you.


De-Risked Project

Tested Assertion

Aligned Team

Successful Cross-Functional Collaboration

Boosted Creativity

Motivated Team Members

Fast-Forward Insights

Released Fixation

Every sprint is unique

Based on your goals and deliverables each sprint is unique. It is customized for the phase in a product’s lifecycle. The main four phases we use are:

  1. Assertion to test.
  2. Proof of concept.
  3. Proof of market.
  4. Scaling.


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The 4 Levels of Entrepreneurial Freedom

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Hi Simon, this is June from Chicago. My husband says I am working even MORE, now that I am self-employed… Honestly, I was searching for freedom when I broke out of the system to do my own thing. I feel like the business is running me, not vice versa. Is it just me, or are other entrepreneurs going through the same? I’d love your thoughts Simon…


Entrepreneurial Freedom can be divided into 4 Levels.

Level 1: Job. (0:43)

The revenues are coming in and out, you have projects that you say yes or no to. 

The systems are completely manual, and the profits are low, sometimes even negative, sometimes barely breaking even.

This is what I what I call having a job, not running a...

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The 3 Key Elements of a Business

#AskSimon 9

Let’s get this started!

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“Hi Simon, this is Oliver from Melbourne. I’m the owner of my agency and I am doing too many things every week. There’s so many avenues I could go down to help my business, what are the most important things I should do this week to run the business? You’ve talked about systems before, what kind of systems do you mean?” 



You need three elements to run a company and they are: strategy, structure, and people.

In the middle you have culture. Basically how you do what you do. 



Let’s start with strategy. To run a company you need knowledge. You also need...

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The 3-Hour Brand Sprint

Need to Know

Most websites don't convert readers into clients. Most emails don't engage. This is probably the case for many of your marketing pieces as well. But you can change it. And you will change it, with the three-hour brand sprint.

When Steve Jobs published the 1984 campaign in the NYT it was nine pages of technical details: features, features, features. The campaign tanked. Then Jobs went to Pixar, where he learned storytelling. Back to Apple, he launched a completely different campaign: one face and two words: "think different". A huge success. Why? He used the 5 elements of a relevant and repeatable message, here they are.


What to Do

Pick one of your marketing pieces (your website, a sales page, or similar) and apply these six steps to improve it:


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Targeting the Business Bottleneck

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“Create a system that fulfills.” – Simon Severino

Hi Simon this is Fred from Atlanta. We are blessed, having 7 kids. It is so much love… and affection…. But I only have 3 hours a day for my work. Growing my business in such a short time is too darn hard. When talking about focus, what is the best way to identify the most important stuff? 


The Parts of a Business (0:40)

  • Attract 
  • Nurture 
  • Close
  • Deliver 
  • Retain 

The Attract phase is where people usually see your offering for the first time. It’s an introduction to you and your business. (0:46)


The Nurture phase is how you create trust and a relationship with them and...

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Strategy Is Dead.

Create clarity and aligned action instead.

Clarity and focus are often missed when you ask business owners “What do you create, and who is it for?”. It gets blurrier if you dig deeper asking which the current top projects are. Their teams struggle even more to explain why their daily activities matter, and what builds on what – in this current quarter. They’ll tell you great stories, until you both forget what the question was. During the last fifteen years I’ve been validating processes and tools to deliver a better way to strategize: real, simple and true.

Being an entrepreneur myself, I also constantly struggle to find clear and compelling words to shed a light on both what we do and why it matters. Just last week a sprinter from our tech department...

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Sprint Metrics

Measure What Counts

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“Hi Simon, this is Alex from Oakland. We try to measure the team progress every week, as you say, but it’s a mess. Guess we have way too many KPIs that we track, and maybe not even the most relevant ones. In an ideal world, which KPIs should we track? (as simply as possible, please!)” 

“It’s much easier now to set up a program and compete.” – Simon Severino

“How much does it cost to acquire the customer, how much does it cost to fulfill, and what is the lifetime value of the customer?” – Simon Severino


Start managing what counts. 

Measuring what counts. 

I was talking to a brilliant team last week,...

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Prioritization Guide – 4 Steps to Calm Productivity

Working on the right things at the right time is 80% of the game. Nevertheless, most people do not prioritize enough. This article should help you train your prioritization muscle. Because prioritization is only hard if you don’t train your decision muscles. Is it worth the effort? Yes, because for every CEO, Entrepreneur, and Creative, prioritization is always a high-leverage intervention

This is an area that I’ve personally focused on for 16 years now, and here’s the 4 steps I found to be most helpful:

  1. Start with Strategy
  2. Define project sequence [Opportunity Costs]
  3. Define project importance [Leverage]
  4. Let go of all other distractions

Start with Strategy

Before we even get to prioritization, there is a prerequisite —...

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