Notes from Agile Coach Camp: The Lean Startup

This post continues a series of delayed posts about Agile Coach Camp 2011 in Montreal – cross-posted here and on the camp Wiki. Dave Rooney lead it with his notes and impressions from SFAgile 2011.

Very quickly, here are some of the key points.

The five principles of Lean Startup are:

  1. Entrepreneurship is management
  2. Entrepreneurs are everywhere
  3. Validated learning
  4. Innovation accounting
  5. Build-measure-learn

“Entrepreneurs are everywhere” means they can be two founders in a garage or they can be in multinational, century-old, global company. The “startup” part of “lean startup” does not refer to an organization’s age or headcount, only to their mission: discover a new scalable business model in the conditions of uncertainty.

Validated learning is the only unit of progress.

The build-measure-learn loop is the central concept. The result of “build” is a product, which you use to measure; the result of that is data, which you use to learn, which results in ideas that you use to build the next version of the product. The goal is to get through this loop as fast as possible.

In the months since the coach camp, Eric Ries’s book The Lean Startup was published and this much became crystal clear: build-measure-learn is essentially the lean startup’s value stream. At the end, you have produced a unit of validated learning. At the start, you have an unvalidated hypothesis. Part of this long value stream is “build”, which resembles the traditional SDLC value stream in the sense that you start with a request to build a product feature and end with a built feature and its release to users.

At the end of the session, I got up to talk about Steve Blank’s customer development model. (Steve Blank is a venture capitalist, one of the pioneers of the lean startup movement, and the author of The Four Steps to the Epiphany.) I also mentioned a bunch of important points from my book club’s conversation with Steve Blank. There is no reason to repeat them here, but I do recommend that you follow this link.

I am downplaying the customer development model here, because – and this is one of my surprises from reading Eris Ries’ book – Eric downplayed it in his book, giving much more space to lean things, like Kanban and Five Whys. (And you should know that he gave a glowing recommendation to Donald Reinertsen’s book, “Principles of Product Development Flow” — that should give you an idea where I’m going.) Steve Blank’s main message (“there are no facts inside the building, so get the hell out”) is very important to forming a lean startup leader’s mindset. But to really operate this type of organization, you need to go way beyond that and understand Eric’s book. Lean startup in a nutshell is good old lean applied to a new value stream pattern.

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2 Responses to Notes from Agile Coach Camp: The Lean Startup

  1. Pingback: Notes from Agile Coach Camp: Explain This Picture | Learning Agile and Lean

  2. Pingback: Notes from Agile Coach Camp: Personal Kanban | Learning Agile and Lean

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