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Lean Startup movement reaches incredible heights (with further to fall?)


Nice post by Trevor Owens, CEO of Lean Startup Machine, the weekend lean startup accelerator that now runs regular events worldwide.

He highlights the fact that we’re just at the beginning of an incredible period of growth and interest in the lean startup movement (partly due to the flaws in more traditional approaches – see this recent post by Josh Seiden Big bang = big fail). However he rightly points out that with this comes a level of responsibility to prevent it becoming another business fad.

So, what’s needed to maintain this success?

  • Measurable results, otherwise the growth and adoption we’ve seen will be followed by rejection and decline (total quality management, anyone?)
  • Secondly, we need to maintain an open ecosystem to keep the barriers to entry low and allow new entrants to apply the techniques correctly. However as he points out (and we know only too well at Spook Studio), that it takes a lot of work to apply lean techniques correctly (and even then, there’s no silver bullets).
  • Akin to this, the ecosystem itself needs to be sustainable, where big companies face the same challenges as startups (and can’t buy their way to success). Success stories will clearly help to maintain sustainability.
  • Trevor also highlights the fact that we need to choose the right partners that aren’t looking for a quick fix. Good work takes time and significant effort and sacrifices are necessary to be able to create these success stories.

None of us wants lean startup to become dogma. If you’re applying lean in practice then make sure you question what you’re doing and whether you’re achieving measurable results. Constantly assess your tactics and learn from your mistakes.

Also I’d add that we feel using purely lean startup techniques in isolation can be a risk in itself (as can following any process too rigidly). It’s about choosing the right tools for the job (think of lean startup as a Swiss Army Knife). We see the value in combining lean techniques, with design thinking and a focus on the company you’re building too. This is why we’ve set up the Happy Startup School – to help bridge the gap between lean startup, customer experience and culture-driven companies. Lean can help you de-risk your venture and get you on the road to success. But then what? What are your values? How do you recruit the right people? How will you retain customers and make them happy? How do you scale your business but still maintain work/life balance? These are all questions we’ll hope to address when we launch.

What is your experience of lean? How we can stop it becoming another failed management process? Post your comments below.

If you need help turning your startup idea into a successful web product, visit www.spookstudio.com or contact me via Twitter @welovelean. I offer a free 20 minute sanity check for startup founders to share and discuss their ideas in confidence via Skype.


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