Lean in Victoria

I have been interested in Extreme Programming and other agile methods for ages and with that came an interest in startup listening to ThisWeekInStartups, Mixergy, Stanford Enterpreneurial Thought Leadership and other podcasts for a long time. Of course I could not help finding out about the lean startup movement so when I heard that Eric Ries is coming to town I jumped at the chance to hear him speak. Let us see how it went..

According to Eric a startup is an experiment and tied to extreme uncertainty. As part of that Eric wants to start wasting people’s time. He shows how many web 2.0 companies have failed in the last three years and calls all their effort a waste. I am not sure I agree but lets see how he thinks it could improve.

According to Eric a startup is an experiment and tied to extreme uncertainty. As part of that Eric wants to start wasting people’s time. He shows how many web 2.0 companies have failed in the last three years and calls all their effort a waste. I am not sure I agree but lets see how he thinks it could improve.

He introduces us to the idea of a pivot which is a change of direction for a company while staying grounded in what was learned in the past by this company. He postulates that speed wins and getting dynamic and ready for the next pivot is crucial. He describes the waterfall as a method to achieve failure. That sure made me chuckle thinking about the waterfall type projects I have seen in the past.

After explaining planning features he delves into lean manufacturing with the example of folding letter envelopes, where folding envelopes is best done one at a time. Making progress in a lean startup boils down to validated learning since the product AND the customer are unknowns. It is a constant iterative process. This leads to tying Agile Development together with Customer Development. Learning becomes crucial to adapting to customer needs. And in order to get to learn as soon as possible you need to get to the customer as soon as possible. So you need to figure out what the minimal viable product is and get it to the customer. And they will be your early adopters. Funny thing is you can and SHOULD find early adopters even before you actually have a product. They will be the ones to help you shape the product.

In the end a startup acts as a catalyst that turns ideas to producs in a endless cycle of building, measuring and learning. A common thinking Eric finds is that these lean ideas are great for others but not for whoever he talks to. But it can apply to everyone brave enough to do it..

Leadership is creating platforms for experimentation. I guess its time for me to experiment some more 😉

PS: Eric thanks for the great chat and stories in the workshop after the presentation.

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