This post is the first of a series that will try to show how Lean Startup can be useful at various stages of an organisation’s life. My inspiration comes from entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs I have worked with throughout my career, who have wasted way too much of their time on projects that never reached the market.
This and following posts don’t, in any way shape or form, pretend to be the recipe to a successful startup or project. Hopefully, however, they will give entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs a new outlook on management, new ideas and new tools to help them achieve their goals.
What is Lean Startup?
I have often referred to Lean Startup as a tool box but it is so much more than that. Lean Startup:
- Gives you a way to look at problems and questions that always keeps in mind the raison d’être of your organisation
- Helps you to prevent wasting your time developing products or services that no one wants or is willing to pay for
- Exposes you to management tools and processes adapted to extreme market uncertainty
- Brings structure and discipline during chaotic times hence reducing some of the risks
- Creates a culture that enables the real power of any organisation; maximising the use of the brain power and creativity of internal and external resources
- Introduces you into a community of people whose mindset is to help one another.
In my observations these last two elements, although not the better known ones in Lean Startup, are the most powerful ones.
Understanding the basics of Lean Startup is necessary if you wish to apply it in your organisation. This series will not spend much time explaining them, instead focusing on the practice of Lean Startup. Hence I am sharing with you a short list of what I consider the best references to understand Lean Startup. These are not even the tip of the iceberg as to what can be found on the web. They are, however, sufficient to give you an excellent comprehension of the basics and more.
- The book that started it all – The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- Eric Ries’s blog: http://www.startuplessonslearned.com/
- Free, 6-hour course given by Eric, Steve Blank, Ash Maurya and others: https://www.udemy.com/lean-startup-sxsw-2012-videos-and-presentations/https://www.youtube.com/user/leanstartupconf/
- Official LS conference Youtube channel: Leanstartupconf
- Lean Startup Wiki: http://leanstartup.pbworks.com/w/page/15765221/FrontPage
- Ash Maurya’s website: http://leanstack.com/
There are millions of other web references. Many of them are excellent.
If you are new to Lean Startup, I urge you to start with the references above.
Lean Startup is getting to be a bit like a holy book. Some read it and understand the concepts behind it and apply them well. Others read it, retain the words but don’t really understand the concepts behind them so they interpret it their own way, sometimes with disastrous results. Yet others still, haven’t even read the book, use the buzz words like MVP and pivot but have no clue as to what they really mean. Hence, always be critical of what you read on Lean Startup, even the posts on this blog.
Why we need Lean Startup
Organising the Montreal Lean Startup Circle, as well as working with entrepreneurs as a consultant, a coach and a mentor, has proven to me that when properly applied, Lean Startup has the potential to take a mediocre idea and evolve it into a lucrative business (figuratively in the case of NPOs). It will also show quickly when an idea is so bad (in the context of achieving your business goals) that it needs to die.
Current management models, which were created in a different era, are no longer suited or efficient in uncertain markets. The astronomical failure rates of startups in North America and the incapacity of our large enterprises to innovate are proof.
It is time to think differently. It is time to act intelligently.
This series will examine how Lean Startup can be applied throughout the entire life cycle of an organisation. Our next post will look at how Lean Startup can help during the ideation stage.
 In case you ever wondered, Ries is pronounced rice in Europe but Eric, who is American, pronounces his last name reess.