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Lean Startup
Lean Startup
Lean Startup
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Eric Reis' Lean Startup struck a chord amongst startups and product development teams alike. Rather than a single new model, ...

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Actionable Takeaways
  • Test your riskiest assumption. 

Use the Lean Startup approach to test your riskiest assump ...

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Some have criticised the messenger rather than the message, pointing to Reis’ limited success before writing the Lean Startup book. Others express frustration that the model really encapsulates other approaches that were already in circulation. 

Perhaps a more substantive criticism is the risk in going to market without a product to test an idea, is the ease of competitors to capitalise on it before you. 

It has also been accused of providing ‘false negatives’ where an idea is rejected because of initial negative feedback but might have succeeded if pursued further. Similarly, constant pivoting based on feedback might lead to a lack of clear market strategy or message. 

In Practice

Startups - Dropbox 

Dropbox is one of the most cited examples of lean startup. It has developed into a popular product but began its life as a minimum viable product consisting of a 3 minute screencast showing what Dropbox could do. 

The positive response identified demand, provided feedback and helped build a network for their eventual product launch. 

Large corporates - GE’s energy storage division.

When the general manager of the GE energy storage division identified that a new battery developed by the unit had potential to disrupt the industry, rather than scale up and and launch, they embraced learn startup techniques. They focused on customer discovery, meeting with potential customer to better understand their needs. This informed a new focus on utilities and other sectoral changes before they’d even build their first new battery. 

An approach - crowdfunding

Crowdfunding can be a form of Lean Startup as it offers the opportunity to test an idea and ask them to invest into a product idea. Another simple approach might involve simply creating a landing page or website for a future product idea. 

Build your latticework
This model will help you to:

The lean startup applies mental models developed from lean manufacturing and software development, and aligns with agile methodology in its approach to iteratively understand how to deliver greater value. 

Use the following examples of connected and complementary models to weave the lean startup into your broader latticework of mental models. Alternatively, discover your own connections by exploring the category list above. 

Connected models: 

  • Lean thinking: framing the metal model and approaches to startups.
  • Minimum viable product: a core part of the lean startup. 
  • Split testing & A/B testing: referenced as a core approach. 
  • Agile methodology: to effectively implement a lean startup approach.
  • High velocity decisions: as a framework to embrace a bias to action. 

Complementary models: 

  • Golden circle: to maintain your why during those pivots. 
  • Porter’s five forces: analysis to understand a competitive market. 
  • Blue ocean strategy: to explore untested markets. 
  • Red queen effect: the drive for competitors to adopt a lean startup approach.
  • Diversification: to expand existing product ranges.  
  • Design thinking: a useful approach for any startup. 
Origins & Resources

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries was published in 2011 and set the framework for this approach. It’s origins can be traced back to lean methodology in manufacturing and software development, and he was also highly influenced by agile methodology. Find out more at Reis’ Lean Startup website here.

My Notes

  • profile
    1348 days ago Dan Steen , Co-founder
    This is a brilliant model! Loved Eric Ries's book and try and live and breathe this model in all my work. He talks about de-risking in the book and love this approach to de-risk my work.
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