Monday, November 23, 2009

Lean Startups (via Agile) by Eric Ries ...

I had the opportunity to hear Eric Ries deliver his Lean Startups presentation last Friday at DogPatchLabs. Most would benefit - even to re-affirm what you know intrinsically, as he has done a great job synthesizing his learning into a well thought-out lesson. In particular, the real-world examples - both successes and failures, bring instant credibility and great contextual grounding to the core concepts. There were a lot of great perspectives but the most powerful concept for me came down to a simple diagram - one we all have in our minds, but it is nice to see it in picture form:

He takes the fundamental concept of agile - small, iterative steps with heavy customer focus (and therefore business-focused) and puts the emphasis on the verbs, with the most important one being learning. In essence, Eric challenges everybody’s assumptions about finding the shortest path to learning. A great example was how his team spent many months building a product that when released nobody downloaded. It would’ve been much easier to put a “download now” button on the site and see if anybody actually would click to download. Six hours vs. 6 months. Obvious? Sure - always in hindsight, but I know lots of folks that take the later option by default. He openly talks about learning and managing customer expectations without creating credibility and trust issues, obviously important with the above example.

I’m a big believer in Agile and Eric’s presentation shows how powerful it can be. We practice it at Aligned Global, especially for our emerging technology and start-up clients.