Lean Startup is a method for developing businesses, products, or services. The technique has been developed and made famous by Eric Ries. In September 2008, Ries first coined the term on his blog, Startup Lessons Learned, in “The lean startup“. His book “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses” was published in September 2011.
The Lean Startup provides a scientific approach to creating and managing startups, new products or services, and getting the desired product to customers’ hands faster.
The Lean Startup method teaches you how to drive a startup, steer, turn, persevere and grow a business with maximum acceleration.
New product development needs an approach of experiments. As far concerned to me, the Lean Startup approach applies to any new product or service development and is the only relevant approach. It is a principled approach to new product development. It’s a combination of working in short incremental and iterative product development cycles and adopting a hypothesis-driven experimental approach and validated learning. More importantly, you can apply the lean startup philosophy to any individual, team, or company looking to introduce new products or services into the market.
The Number One Reason Why Products Fail
At the heart of all these reasons is one core reason:
We simply build something nobody wants.
Source: The BOOT START Manifesto, by Ash Maurya
The principles of Lean Startup
- Entrepreneurs are everywhere
- Entrepreneurship is management
- Validated learning
- Innovation accounting
The Lean Startup principles have been applied to other domains such as User eXperience, Enterprise, Branding, Customer development, analytics.
“Lean has never meant cheap”.
“Lean has nothing to do with how much money a company raises,” rather it has everything to do with assessing the specific demands of consumers and how to meet that demand using the least amount of resources possible.
Lean startup terminology
A minimum viable product (MVP) is the “version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort”. The goal of an MVP is to test fundamental business hypotheses (or leap-of-faith assumptions) and help entrepreneurs begin the learning process as quickly as possible.
A split or A/B test is an experiment in which “different versions of a product are offered to customers simultaneously.” The goal of a split test is to observe differences in behaviour between the two groups and measure each version’s impact on an actionable metric.
Actionable metrics can lead to informed business decisions and subsequent action. These are in contrast to vanity metrics—measurements that give “the rosiest picture possible” but do not accurately reflect the key drivers.
A pivot is a “structured course correction designed to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, strategy, and engine of growth.”
Innovation accounting focuses on how entrepreneurs can maintain accountability and maximize outcomes by measuring progress, planning milestones, and prioritizing.
The Build–Measure–Learn loop emphasizes speed as a critical ingredient to product development. A team or company’s effectiveness is determined by its ability to ideate, quickly build a minimum viable product of that idea, measure its effectiveness in the market, and learn from that experiment. In other words, it’s a learning cycle of turning ideas into products, measuring customers’ reactions and behaviours against built products, and then deciding whether to persevere or pivot the idea; this process repeats as many times as necessary. The phases of the loop are: Ideas → Build → Product → Measure → Data → Learn.
More resources about Lean Startup
- Find about the different books in the Lean series of O’Reilly
- Steve Blank’s article why the lean startup changes everything
- Eric Ries’ original blog post introducing the term “Lean Startup” (September 2008)
- Ash Maurya’s Lean stack
- Harvard Business School paper: Hypothesis-Driven Entrepreneurship: The Lean Startup (purchase required)
- The Leader’s Guide (Eric Ries’ next book, expected 2016)
- Eric Ries biography (wikipedia)
Any other interesting resources? (feel free to suggest in the comments!)
Playing Lean is a simulation, a board game to experience and learn the Lean Startup principles. These serious games are a great and interactive way to learn something. Playing Lean is interesting both for novices and people familiar with Lean Startup. Beginners will learn about the principles and apply them in practice for the first time. People knowing about Lean Startup can vary their tactics and gain new insights. The game is flexible, and it’s possible to create variations by introducing new scenarios or different market compositions.
“Playing Lean” was created by a few entrepreneurs in Oslo, Norway. For more info or to acquire the board game, see their website.
Contact me if you’re interested in organizing a Lean Startup workshop with Playing Lean.
Playing Lean workshops
- I am facilitating community and in-company workshops
- For public workshops check Agile Tour Brussels / London, Agile Belgium meetups, iLean evening session, …