BigCo Studio Syllabus (Spring 2019)

Chad Dickerson edited this page Jan 21, 2019 · 51 revisions

BigCo Studio (TECH 5920)

Spring 2019

Instructors: Chad Dickerson (chad.dickerson@cornell.edu) and Bradley Horowitz (bjh234@cornell.edu)

Catalog description: In this class, students will learn how to successfully navigate the opportunities and challenges of a BigCo (Big Company) and build products in a complex environment at scale. Students will also learn about how business development, M&A, and other corporate activities complement, and sometimes compete with product teams to drive larger strategic initiatives forward in BigCos. Students will work in teams matched with a real-world opportunity and advisor from a BigCo. Teams will then build and pitch a working product in three sprints culminating in a final presentation and demo. The class will include lectures and prominent guest speakers from the industry.

Prerequisites: Product Studio (TECH 5900), Startup and Product Ideas (TECH 5100), Becoming a Leader in the Digital World (TECH 5000)

Textbook(s) and/or Other Required Materials:

Readings listed in week-by-week schedule

Week-by-week schedule and readings

Class Times:

Thursdays Team time: 3:20p- 4:35p Lectures: 4:45p- 6:00p Crit: 6:15p- 7:25p

Innovator’s Dilemma (January 24)

Bradley Horowitz on campus

Lectures: 4:45p- 6:00p

Framing the challenge & opportunity in BigCos. What advantages do BigCos have when it comes to building successful products? What disadvantages?

Readings:

HOMEWORK: Submit all homework here: http://bit.ly/BC19HW

  • Read all BigCo Company 1-pagers in preparation for the pitches on Jan 31. You will be ranking all companies for team matching. NOTE: During the company pitching, write down some key takeaways for each company as you will be required to submit a paper on your rankings.

Culture and organization (January 31)

Bradley Horowitz on campus

Lectures: 4:45p- 6:00p

Understanding culture and how organizations work is one of the keys to getting work done. In this class, we will cover:

Culture

  • What is culture and why is it important?
  • Vision/Mission/Strategy/Objectives: how companies articulate them (or don’t) and how that affects product development

Org Structure

  • Structure of big companies (Business units, functional orgs, hybrid organizations)
  • Centralization and decentralization
  • Roles of Corp Dev, Biz Dev, Research, Product Teams in innovation
  • Decision-making: where org structure and culture intersect. How are decisions made?

BigCo Company pitches at 6:00p in Tata 141 followed by reception and networking

Readings on Culture:

Readings on Org Structure:

  • Steven Sinofsky: Functional vs. Unit Organizations
  • High Output Management, Andy Grove (Chapter 7, The Breakfast Factory Goes International, Chapter 8, Hybrid Organizations, and Chapter 9, Dual Reporting)

Optional reading for those who want to go deeper

Organizational Culture and Leadership, By Edgar Schein. This blog post has a decent summary/intro.

HOMEWORK: Submit all homework here: http://bit.ly/BC19HW

  • Rank all companies for team matching and submit a team reflection one-pager detailing why your team has chosen to rank the companies this way. This paper should give insights on the team's interests and what you want to achieve as a team. A link to submit the rankings and paper will be emailed to you. DUE by Friday, 2/1 by 6:00p.

Team matches are done by 2/5 noon

  • After your team has been matched with a company. Write a reflection 2-page paper that summarizes your team's understanding of the company's culture, vision, mission, strategy, objectives, and organizational structure. Conclude with takeaways on how your team's makeup could help you navigate within your matched company's org structure to be successful. DUE by Thursday, 2/7 by 12:00p.

Developing and selling your pitch (February 7)

Team time: 3:20p- 4:35p

Lectures: 4:45p- 6:00p

What/how to build. Now that you’ve been matched to a BigCo, it’s time to learn about your specific sponsor company. Who are you pitching to? Does your company have a particular format they use when teams are pitching product ideas and, if so, how do you leverage it? What does success look like? How do you get resources and attention for your project if/when no one seems to care? How do you do product discovery inside a BigCo where incentives across teams may not be aligned?

Readings:

HOMEWORK: Submit all homework here: http://bit.ly/BC19HW

Bi-Weekly status email, include all members of your team, cc both your professors, class grader and hellostudio@cornell.edu. DUE by Monday, 2/11 by 11:00p.

Your Bi-Weekly email should include:

  • Team Info: Name & ID Number
  • Startup Pitch: Pitch for your product
  • Weeks Behind: Outline what has your team accomplished
  • Key Takeaways: What are some key takeaways your team has learned in the past weeks
  • Weeks Ahead: What does your team want to accomplish in the next 2 weeks
  • Risks/Roadblocks: What are some Risks/roadblocks your team has that is slowing down your forward momentum

Sprint 1 (February 14 & 15)

Bradley Horowitz on campus

  • 3:30pm kickoff (2/13)
  • 3pm presentations, party 5:00-6:30pm (2/14)
  • Update the Buildboard with product narrative (140 characters max), add a team and individual members photo
  • Every team member must be prepared to give your Sprint presentation in front of the class
  • Upload Sprint 1 Presentation, update HMW and Product Narrative to Buildboard

Requirements: 4 mins

Team/ Intro
Product narrative
Why/why now
Personas
Vision
Demo (lo-fi or hi-fi)
Next steps

Building for millions and billions (February 21)

Team time: 3:20p- 4:35p

Lectures: 4:45p- 6:00p

Crit: 6:15p- 7:25p

In a startup, you hack something together and you ship it then see what happens. Reaching millions and billions at scale introduces new opportunities and challenges. We will take a look at internationalization/localization, regulatory issues, legal considerations, usability / accessibility, and others.

Incubators, accelerators, and Brickhouses (February 28)

Bradley Horowitz on campus

Team time: 3:20p- 4:35p

Lectures: 4:45p- 6:00p

Hack Days, 20% time, Xerox Parc, Google X, Area 121, Brickhouse, Building 8 (FB). In some companies, special divisions/teams are set up to focus on specific projects, often in a special office away from corporate HQ. What role do these types of efforts play in delivering products that matter? What works and doesn't work?

HOMEWORK: Submit all homework here: http://bit.ly/BC19HW

  • Crit: 5-6 sentences summarizing feedback received & 5-6 sentences on how your team will use the feedback to continue building

  • Bi-Weekly status email, include all members of your team, cc both your professors, class grader and hellostudio@cornell.edu

Your Bi-Weekly email should include:

  • Team Info: Name & ID Number
  • Startup Pitch: Pitch for your product
  • Weeks Behind: Outline what has your team accomplished
  • Key Takeaways: What are some key takeaways your team has learned in the past weeks
  • Weeks Ahead: What does your team want to accomplish in the next 2 weeks
  • Risks/Roadblocks: What are some Risks/roadblocks your team has that is slowing down your forward momentum DUE by Monday, 2/25 by 11:00p.

Cultural change (March 7)

Team time: 3:20p- 4:35p

Lectures: 4:45p- 6:00p

What to do when things aren’t working. How to effectively challenge/change culture. Is your BigCo up to the innovation task? How do you know when it is time to pursue another project, work somewhere else, or just plain quit?

Readings

Sprint 2 (March 14 & 15)

Bradley Horowitz on campus

  • 4pm kickoff (3/14)
  • 5-6:30pm presentations, party 6:30-7:30pm (3/15)
  • Update the Buildboard with product narrative (140 characters max)
  • Every team member must be prepared to give your Sprint presentation in front of the class
  • Post Sprint 2 Presentation to Buildboard and sheet

Requirements: 4 mins

Strong Intro
Strong narrative and Vision
Show a Demo (no lo-fi)
Show validation
Show your strategy
Next steps

HOMEWORK: Submit all homework here: http://bit.ly/BC19HW Bi-Weekly status email, include all members of your team, cc both your professors, class grader and hellostudio@cornell.edu

Your Bi-Weekly email should include:

  • Team Info: Name & ID Number
  • Startup Pitch: Pitch for your product
  • Weeks Behind: Outline what has your team accomplished
  • Key Takeaways: What are some key takeaways your team has learned in the past weeks
  • Weeks Ahead: What does your team want to accomplish in the next 2 weeks
  • Risks/Roadblocks: What are some Risks/roadblocks your team has that is slowing down your forward momentum DUE by March, 3/18 by 11:00p.

The role of M&A and corporate VC (March 21)

Tech in Group 1: 3:20p- 4:35p

Lectures: 4:45p- 6:00p

Tech in Group 2: 6:00p- 7:15p

Should you consider buying instead of building? In this lecture, we’ll explore:

  • M&A 101: The mechanics of how acquisitions work

  • M&A 102: Buy vs. building capabilities yourself

  • Partnership 101 /Biz Dev & Corp Dev

  • Corporate venture investing

Readings:

HOMEWORK: Submit all homework here: http://bit.ly/BC19HW

  • Submit your team's Tech in deck and repo link.
  • 3-5 Takeaways from your Tech in session. What are the plans to build your product in the next 2 weeks? DUE by March, 3/21 by 1:00p.

Hazards ahead! (March 28)

Team time: 3:20p- 4:35p

Lectures: 4:45p- 6:00p

Crit: 6:15p- 7:25p

BigCo life is full of activity that can be a distraction to building products. Some of these include re-orgs, budgeting, M&A that threatens to replace your product line and possibly team, competitive pressures, and even investor pressure. We will talk through these and how to think about them while staying focused on your work.

HOMEWORK: Submit all homework here: http://bit.ly/BC19HW

  • Crit: 5-6 sentences summarizing feedback received & 5-6 sentences on how your team will use the feedback to continue building

  • Bi-Weekly status email, include all members of your team, cc both your professors, class grader and hellostudio@cornell.edu

Your Bi-Weekly email should include:

  • Team Info: Name & ID Number
  • Startup Pitch: Pitch for your product
  • Weeks Behind: Outline what has your team accomplished
  • Key Takeaways: What are some key takeaways your team has learned in the past weeks
  • Weeks Ahead: What does your team want to accomplish in the next 2 weeks
  • Risks/Roadblocks: What are some Risks/roadblocks your team has that is slowing down your forward momentum DUE by March, 3/25 by 11:00p.

Sprint 3 (April 11 & 12)

Bradley Horowitz on campus

  • 3:30pm kickoff (4/11)
  • 3pm presentations, happy hour 5:00-6:30pm (4/12)
  • Every team member must be prepared to give your Sprint presentation in front of the class
  • Finalize Buildboard update with product narrative (140 characters max)
  • Post Sprint 3 presentation to Buildboard

Requirements: 4 mins

Strong Intro
Strong narrative and vision
Show a Demo (no lo-fi)
Show validation
Show your strategy/tech
Next steps

"Spinning in" (April 18)

Bradley Horowitz on campus

Team time: 3:20p- 4:35p

Lectures: 4:45p- 6:00p

Crit: 6:15p- 7:25p

How do you "spin in" your new product in a BigCo and make it durable and long-lasting? What happens when a disruptive product you've built internally needs to scale and you have to switch from being a "pirate" to a "captain"?

HOMEWORK: Submit all homework here: http://bit.ly/BC19HW

  • Crit: 5-6 sentences summarizing feedback received & 5-6 sentences on how your team will use the feedback to continue building

  • Bi-Weekly status email, include all members of your team, cc both your professors, class grader and hellostudio@cornell.edu

Your Bi-Weekly email should include:

  • Team Info: Name & ID Number
  • Startup Pitch: Pitch for your product
  • Weeks Behind: Outline what has your team accomplished
  • Key Takeaways: What are some key takeaways your team has learned in the past weeks
  • Weeks Ahead: What does your team want to accomplish in the next 2 weeks
  • Risks/Roadblocks: What are some Risks/roadblocks your team has that is slowing down your forward momentum

The Art of Communication (April 25)

Tech in Group 1: 3:20p- 4:35p

Lectures: 4:45p- 6:00p

Tech in Group 2: 6:00p- 7:15p

A BigCo fundamentally differs from a startup in how people communicate. Instead of talking across the room, you may be communicating across time zones, business unit lines, and different internal company cultures. We'll discuss building working communication mechanisms inside BigCos: how to communicate requirements, track work, articulate goals, show progress, communicate within the team, and up and down the chain in a complex environment. We are intentionally leaving this for last so we can discuss some of the students' specific experiences in their projects that may be relevant to the topic.

HOMEWORK: Submit all homework here: http://bit.ly/BC19HW

  • Submit your team's Tech in deck and repo link.
  • 3-5 Takeaways from your Tech in session. What are the plans to build your final alpha product by 5/2? DUE by March, 3/21 by 1:00p.

Final graded presentations (May 2)

Bradley Horowitz on campus

Present your final product! You will present to your peers (all members of the team must be present) on this date and teams will be required to set up an appointment to present to your BigCo advisor.

TIME: TBD

DUE BEFORE YOUR PRESENTATION

  • Final Product
  • Final Deck
  • Final Buildboard updates with all sprint presentations, HMW updated, product narrative updated, link to repos, and all grammar checked
  • Team poster

May 17: Open Studio

  • 3:30pm-7:00pm

Grading

Read more about BigCo Studio on the Cornell Tech web site or in this blog post from one of the instructors.

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