First external feedback and theoretical contribution
I would say that my participation in these two events, the XP Doctoral Symposium and NITIM summer school, was a turning point in my PhD. I summarize my learnings in two key points: one more related to my research in particular and the other, although also linked to what I was doing, more general.
The first point is about my focus on Lean Startup. At this moment, I realized that, if I focused especifically on Lean Startup, my results might get meaningless if the methodology loses the popularity. And this could easily happen in such dynamic environments as startups.
The second, and I think the most important, was the importance of a theoretical contribution. At this moment, I finally understood the need of creating new knowledge in a PhD. And that was a problem for my initial idea. As the feedback in NITIM warned me, the diffusion of innovations theory is around for a long time and it would be really hard for me to find something new on it. Besides that, I was probably not on the best place, a computer science program, to do a real theoretical contribution to it.
So, based on my experience, I recommend all PhD students to participate in doctoral symposiums and similar events (like the NITIM summer school). You get out of your bubble and see what others might think of your idea. For me, it is the best approximation of using the ideas of agile methodologies and Lean Starutp on your own PhD. After all, the research community is one of the stakeholders of your research and if they don’t find your work interesting, they will not cite your results.