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The Lean Startup: The First Leg of the Lean Journey, Part One

The Lean Startup: The First Leg of the Lean Journey, Part One


The Lean Startup concept, developed by Eric Reis, has become well entrenched in the mainstream. Heck, Eric’s even gone on to published a book about it. Though I think it’s the best and most consistent framework currently available for entrepreneurs to methodically evaluate their ventures and solidify their growth engines, what happens when you get a product into the market that customers actually want and, as a result, your business starts to grow? Does the “Lean” focus end there for your business?

In this two part post, I’ll discuss the principles of the Lean Startup model, the meaning of being Lean, and how startups can move beyond the basics to successfully integrate of the Lean philosophy into everyday business.

So far, there isn’t enough data to show what happens next after the Lean Startup achieves success and growth. I would bet that as soon as sales, marketing, HR, IT, help-desk and other areas of the company start to grow, most of the Lean principles that guided the Lean Startup will eventually be diluted, and may even completely vanish.

A Lean Startup should strive to continue following its path and grow into a Lean organization by leveraging its founding DNA and learning how to get there through a Lean culture-building process. By embracing Lean as an organizational-cultural philosophy, and incorporating principles beyond those found in the Lean Startup model, you can ensure continuous delivery of value as you grow beyond the startup mode into a successful business.

I couldn’t agree more, but there’s a big gap between being “well -positioned” and ready. How can a Lean Startup close this gap, and ensure that the new company is built to deliver continuous innovation and value?

What it Means to be Lean

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The Lean Startup model shares some conceptual tenets with the Lean philosophy adopted by Toyota in its manufacturing operations, and which has been employed in software application development to a great extent. The focus on adding value, simplifying processes, working in small batches, removing waste, the build/measure/learn concept, and asking the “five whys” are shared with the Lean manufacturing model.  However, for the most part, that’s where the similarities end.

The Lean approach used by Toyota encompasses far more than these basic – and fundamental – concepts, and many of its principles can be extended throughout the startup’s life and woven into its cultural and organizational fabric. In Eric’s “Lean Startup” book, he states that:

“Lean Startups, when they grow up, are well positioned to develop operational excellence based on lean principles.”

I couldn’t agree more, but there’s a big gap between being “well -positioned” and ready. How can a Lean Startup close this gap, and ensure that the new company is built to deliver continuous innovation and value?

In the second part of this post, I’ll discuss how a startup can move to the next step, go beyond the basics of Lean, and integrate it as a philosophy that permeates the growing business.

 

About Kirk Laughlin

Kirk Laughlin is an award-winning editor and subject expert in information technology and offshore BPO/ contact center strategies.
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