Introducing the #Feminist #Lean Project Canvas

cv harquail
Sep 8, 2016 · 4 min read

Where Lean Startup Meets Feminist Practice

Here’s a quick introduction to the basic elements of the PowerWITH Feminist Lean Project Canvas. The full description of the Canvas, each element in the Canvas, the questions to guide your ideas’ development, and the steps for using the Canvas, are available in the FLPC Workbook.

The Feminist Lean Project Canvas (FLPM) is a tool to help any leader craft and develop the scope of a work project so that:

(1) You can develop collaborative #PowerWITH other stakeholders, so that the project is co-created, supported, and executed by an aligned team of interested parties, and

(2) The work project itself incorporates an explicitly feminist point of view and considers how justice, equity, and system change can be added into the design of your everyday work.

What is the Feminist Lean Project Canvas?

The FLPC is a one-page template that help users clarify, organize, and getting down onto paper their idea for defining problems, solutions, key metrics, and competitive advantages that their product is designed to address. Canvases like Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas (and now this one) help users get a higher level, ‘big picture’ of most of the elements that need to be considered in order to make a project work.

The Canvas is comprehensive, high level, portable, visual, and easy to revise. It becomes a tool you can use to explain your project to others, to show how all the pieces interact, and to cover the bases as you plan. It’s also a tool you can use for conversations with stakeholders to share project updates and ideas with them, get their contributions, and play around with ideas together.

Who should use the Feminist Lean Project Canvas?

  • Leaders interested in developing truly collaborative, co-creative processes for driving a work project forward

The FLPC is designed to be used within organizations that are up and running. It can be used to sketch out a larger organizational change (e.g., a new process, a new department) or a smaller transformation of something already underway.

How does the Feminist Lean Project Canvas work?

The FLPC guides users through an iterative, interactive, collaborative process for developing a project idea by working through a series of questions in conversation with stakeholders.

Each box of the canvas comes with questions that help you unpack the different elements (boxes) of your Canvas while imbuing your project with feminist values. The process of filling out your Canvas helps to create community, align stakeholders, and build commitment. The process gets allies involved in making the project happen. It generates not just better ideas, but a sense of shared ownership, shared power, and shared responsibility.

Why did we create a Feminist Lean Project Canvas?

As feminist entrepreneurs, our (@cvharquail & @lexschroeder’s) guiding purpose is to create and build businesses that reflect feminist values. While we found conventional Lean Startup approaches to be really effective at scoping out product ideas, we knew that these did not explicitly invite users to think about the values they wanted their products to demonstrate. And, users were seldom invited to consider what values they wanted their businesses to support and reflect.

Feminism is a complex political perspective on how and why we should create a more just world. It is most useful when it is actively practiced. Feminist ideas can be hard to translate into practice, especially in conventional workplace. The FLPC is our first effort to activate feminist principles in work design and put feminist values into practice so that a business runs well, gets good work done, and makes a positive difference in the world.

Lex Schroeder and I will be offering a full-day workshop, “Using Feminist Leadership Skills to Achieve Business* Results” on Saturday, Oct 15th from 9 to 4:30, in Manhattan. The workshop pairs Take The Lead’s Leadership Power Tools with Feminists At Work’s Feminist Lean Project Canvas tool. Join us to transform a real work project (using a feminist #powerWITH approach) and build your personal leadership skills to drive that project forward (#powerTO).


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cv harquail

Written by

Co-founder, FeministsAtWork. Management prof teaching entrepreneurship, digital startups, social change, and #FeministBusiness.