A couple of months back, we introduced you all to the concepts of the Lean Startup Methodology and discussed the benefits of an MVP culture. The Lean management approach has proven its efficacy countless times in today's startup goldrush and we've seen it put to good use by a number of our entrepreneurial clients here at the Studio. In the dynamic world of innovative tech, where the goal posts seem to be changing day to day, few management strategies provide as flexible a platform as the Lean method.
Today, we'd like to progress a little more into the Lean Startup method and talk about one of its central paradigms: build-measure-learn.
Nice buzzword. What does it mean?
I always like to use the words straight out of the Lean Startup playbook:
"The fundamental activity of a startup is to turn ideas into products, measure how customers respond, and then learn whether to pivot or persevere."
If you take a moment to carefully consider the above, you might find that it turns everything you know about business on its head. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the point of any new business is to make money. However, in the fast-paced landscape of digital, what makes money today might not make money tomorrow. Learning about your market, your audience needs and your technologies can often be the more valuable mark of progress in the long term. Test and learn isn't just a means to an end - it's the essence of your approach to business.
How can I make it work?
Simply put, you build (fast), measure (rapidly) and learn (quick). This paradigm is all based on speed to market and rapid iteration, even at the apparent cost of quality. Inherently rooted in your MVP culture, build-measure-learn requires you to use real market conditions and feedback as both your sounding board and research base.
The Lean Startup method views markets as a landscape in which survival of the fittest is the sole determinant of success. Products that fail, reproduce and evolve the quickest will have the highest chance of adapting to changing market conditions. You want to go to market, fail fast, learn and get your product to market again before the competition.
What are the dangers?
Lean is a proven method for finding a workable digital product. However, there is a danger here of over-emphasis on the product itself as the be-all-and-end-all to success. In fact, your marketing, PR, accounting and partnerships play an equally important role in business success. If you spend all your time worrying about the product, it might be easy to neglect these essential aspects.
The mentality of Lean, however, is one of rapid iteration and finding what works. This applies as much to your marketing strategy and cash-flow systems as it does to your development process. Try to reconcile MVP approaches with the broader context of your business operations, never forgetting that real-world testing is the best indicator of future success.
To learn more about how we implement Lean Startup methodologies with our clients here at the Studio, drop us a line!