LEAN Startup Has Been Corrupted
In business, simplicity is the key to almost everything, no matter what industry or position you’re in. Keeping things reduced to the minimum viable product, whether that’s an actual product or something intangible like an idea or strategy, is essential to maintain focus and communicate effectively to stakeholders and observers. That means coming up with a concise plan you can easily convey to early adopters or coming up with a tight marketing strategy to bring to your team.
You may have been reading about LEAN Startup methodology, watching the many instructional videos, playing around with Experiment Board, LEAN Canvas, Value Proposition Canvas, Business Model Canvas and numerous other tools. You might be joining Webinars, attending LEAN MeetUps & conferences, spending time with a mentor and generally receiving loads of advice. You’re trying to absorb the wisdom of gurus like Steve Blank, Ash Maurya & Eric Ries and you may have discovered Clay Christensen, Anita Newton, Justin Wilcox and Grace Ng.
If you are part of an Accelerator or Incubator you will very likely be following a rigorous and formalized LEAN program along with lots of Mentor advice sessions. And there is a fair chance that you are spending so much time studying all this LEAN Startup content that you find yourself going slightly crazy and not making the kind of progress with your venture that you need to.
Being involved as I am in the Startup scene in Sydney, San Francisco and Wellington I get a wonderful opportunity to observe Founder behavior and attitudes in all three countries and by and large there’s very little difference — the common feedback I hear is that the ever growing body of LEAN Startup science has evolved into a confusing landscape and is often a real distraction to the primary task of getting your Startup started.
If you go back about ten years when Steve Blank started pitching the tech world on LEAN, it was really based on a very simple and clear proposition that startups had to validate assumptions about customer needs and the ONLY way to do that was ‘to get out of the building’. A quite perfect distillation of everything he’d learned as an entrepreneur and investor. Steve basically said, “if you don’t get out of the building there’s a 90% probability your startup will fail”.
Over the past ten years Steve’s simple premise has evolved, extended and expanded until today where the LEAN Startup movement is a complex science that has launched many consulting careers. Each of the three key stages of LEAN — Problem/Solution Fit, Product/Market Fit and Scale have become complex multi-faceted parts of LEAN Startup science.
The point I make is illustrated perfectly by the Innovator’s Roadmap created by Ash Maurya. You can print this on an A3 sheet and struggle to read the font. Fully comprehending the process and being trained using the map is a labor of love that could totally absorb a Founder for many months of dedicated work. Meanwhile how is the Founder’s Startup progressing ?
There is now a real need to take this vast body of LEAN science, apply the KISS principle and provide a pathway that is more readily understood and followed.
My attempt to apply KISS to LEAN is the LEAN Hacking™ Canvas. Designed specifically for entrepreneurs and very early stage Startups and for enterprises as a tool to quickly validate ideas. LEAN Hacking™ was not designed for a funded Startup or a mature business that needs to reimagine an existing business model. Tools like the LEAN Canvas and Business Model Canvas are better suited for those entities.
“LEAN Hacking” is a registered Trademark of Greg Twemlow & Co.