Lean Startup Principles are not just for startups

leanstartupI just finished listening to The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. It’s a great book that’s targeted at startup entrepreneurs but I think the information also has great appeal and value for those that work and manage in large enterprises. Intrapreneurs could gain some wonderful insight into new ways of thinking and tackling problems of change, innovation and growth by learning from the experiences in startups.

I’ve been working in large organizations for many years and the same problems persist.  Projects take too long, cost too much and don’t deliver on the original objectives. What I’ve noticed is that the same “solutions” continue to get suggested and applied with limited success.

The Lean Startup methodology is simple. Build -> Measure -> Learn.
The Lean Startup methodology is simple. Build -> Measure -> Learn.

The lean principles are a scientific approach to product development mainly borrowed from lean manufacturing made famous by Toyota.

After listening to the lean startup principles, there’s a lot that management could learn to help evolve their organizations to become more agile and innovative.

The principles aim to eliminate uncertainly, work smarter not harder, develop a minimum viable product and validated learning. The most interesting to me is the validated learning principle which is the opposite to large batch work that involves long drawn out analysis, planning and execution cycles. Here’s what Eric has to say about validated learning.

Validated Learning – Progress in manufacturing is measured by the production of high quality goods. The unit of progress for Lean Startups is validated learning-a rigorous method for demonstrating progress when one is embedded in the soil of extreme uncertainty. Once entrepreneurs embrace validated learning, the development process can shrink substantially. When you focus on figuring the right thing to build-the thing customers want and will pay for-you need not spend months waiting for a product beta launch to change the company’s direction. Instead, entrepreneurs can adapt their plans incrementally, inch by inch, minute by minute.

That last sentence is the take-away; “adapt their plans incrementally, inch by inch, minute by minute.”

In an ever changing uncertain world, you are almost certain to miss the mark if you spend months and months analyzing and planning as the world beneath your feet is constantly changing.

The Lean Startup is a great book and one I suggest any entrepreneur, manager or executive should read or listen to.

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