The Lean Startup: What is it and Why it is important?

The Lean Startup

Whether you are a startup entrepreneur, corporate entrepreneur, government agency, healthcare provider, an educational institute, or even a small initiative within a large organization, how do you go about developing a sustainable business? How do you organize new product development for the current situation? With current situation, I mean, this era where we are not aware how customers will engage with new offerings or business!!! This requires a very different kind of experience — an experience that helps us to understand how to go about “validated learning” and how to “work efficiently”.

Simple answer to this is just “move out of great man theory.”

Organizations can survive only if it has the ability to adapt continuously to new situations.

Change Directions

In the Past man was first; In the future, system will be first, predicted Frederick Winslow Taylor way back in 1911. He was true. As things have changed, working patterns have changed, situations have changed, we need to change the way we work towards turning a viable idea into an actual product without much risk and with improved chances of success. Shift the way you organize your ideas.

Learn Quickly What Works And Discard What Does Not….

Business today is all about contacts. Any mission you work on is an experiment. Victory comes only with speed and customer is powerful. W. Edwards Deming, a top management consultant rightly said, “Customer is the most important part of the production line.”

A less risky methodology which is catching like fire in recent days is “Lean Startup method.”

What is Lean Startup?

Lean startup is an approach suggested by Eric Ries, an American entrepreneur back in 2008. Although the early lean movement was initiated in Japan back in 1950s, the actual implementation started only after Eric proved the method to be best for start-ups. We see huge followers today for this approach. It is a new management philosophy that helps start-ups to move faster and deliver value. After all it is all about achieving sustainable growth and creating long-term valuable impact.

“Lean Startup methodology is everything to do with assessing the specific demands of consumers and how to meet that demand using the least amount of resources possible”

Why Lean?

Entrepreneurship is a distinctive management practice. Traditional method works well only when you know the problem and the solution too. Today, we are designing products for situation. Problems although are known, solution is unknown in many cases. We have to experiment and improve efficiency. Look at the table below;

As indicated, Lean methodology gives enough space to test, measure and learn before you actually hit the market.

How to Apply Lean Startup?

Success and growth have strong connections. You can be successful, but if you don’t see growth consistently, then you cannot sustain your success. Reducing the time that goes in developing a service or a product is the need of the hour. So, go ahead and replace your elaborate planning with discovery driven planning which includes; tests and experiments. This is sure to payoff. Rather than choosing a traditional development stage, choose to follow an iterative design.

Five key principles of Lean Startup

(Advocated by Eric Ries)

  • Entrepreneurship is Management
  • Build a culture of Experimentation & Iterative Development
  • Focus on Early Validation & Learnings
  • Eliminate Wasteful Effort
  • Build — Measure — Learn

Lean is for everyone

Lean methodology is for everyone. It is suitable for those who thrive to survive in this changing era. A lean startup is nothing but working efficiently by minimizing wasted resources.

The ultimate goal is to streamline the whole course of action for bringing a big idea to market. Customers are clear as to what they want, but hypothesis-testing is more valuable. Uber today stands an example that practiced with a lean MVP. Uber is relatively now the highest-valued unicorn startup globally, despite their other controversies.

Few venture capitals cannot agree with this type of procedure as they feel it eliminates the need for funding to grow a business. The point here is scaling still involves capital. A noted example here can be of Airbnb, the biggest hotel company in the world. The company literally validated their idea before even they came out big on their announcement.

Work Beyond Your Growth Choices

  • Lean can reduce capital waste
  • Lean lets you to think big
  • Lean lets you to plan for the future
  • Lean method results in less failure
  • Lean teaches you to try even if rejected
  • Lean is not only for startup but is also for established companies
  • Lean method works for any project and innovation
  • Lean also suggests decentralizing the decision authority
  • Lean helps to liberate the traditional structure

In a race, you can stumble and fall sometimes. But the ultimate goal is to reach the finish line. Lean teaches you to see failures positively and pivot if not working and persevere if it works. This way you are not left with major loss but at the same time you get clarity as to what to do next.

With the emergence of machine intelligence, internet of things and advanced technical approach we need to move from our traditional practices. Today, the economy and society are different from what it was then. We can hook to the old day’s knowledge and stick to the basic principles but we need to emerge with the future. This can demand us to stabilize with few new age practices.

Future management and agility of any organization be it small or big depends purely on modern practices. Lean is one such practice that is suitable for this time. It teaches us to produce more value with less effort.

For App Development

We keep hearing stories of App failure rates as they stand no chance to connect with the customers. Performance issues, crashing apps, and lack of efficiency to impress the customers mark as the key contributing factors for App failures. Purely signals ignorance of accessibility and adaptability.

What is the right way?

  • Apps should be tested (failures can give clear perspective on success)
  • Apps should offer value to users
  • Apps should be intuitive

Agile or Lean?

Agile can be termed as a subset of Lean, although, both the methods work on the same principle to deliver quickly and efficiently. Agile helps one to go incremental rather than all at once. Lean is all about learn-measure-build.

Does Lean work for Native mobile App development?

Using the lean app development methodology, developers can build and launch new apps quickly and cost effectively.

Major advantage includes;

  • Risk mitigation
  • Chance to Touch the market quickly
  • Chance to test and evaluate
  • Optimized performance

Common Worries

Common worries include distributing beta versions, limiting access to published apps, time for updating, having a perfect MVP to quickly work for the final launch and so on.

Can App Developers Go Lean?

Lean Startup can be termed as the gateway drug for a new way of working. The methodology can fit well with all industries and can be ideal for App development too.

  • Build up mockups and eventually try to test them
  • Don’t stick to native prototypes. Think of creating non-native prototypes
  • Use distribution tools for your beta
  • Focus on features that can offer some initial value and build further
  • Focus on bringing it to one platform initially
  • Use A/B tools for native development

Hit or Miss

Ever wondered why several path-breaking discoveries fail to reach the marketplace or several new ventures fail to live up? The reason could be mundane stuff, boring details and decisions made based on individual choices. As far as Apps are concerned, the reason can be purely lack of efficiency. This does not mean that you have not planned or rather you have planned well but failed to execute. The reality is somewhere in the process, right from product development till customer development, you either land safely or nosedive too. In short you either hit or miss.

All you have to do is follow a time-honoured principle. Crack the riddle of experimenting without breaking. Focus on adding value and reducing everything else. Ask yourself whether your product will have a market…Learn to be lean towards perfectionism.


Originally published at www.openxcell.com on March 27, 2017.