Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Gospel According to Lean

It is quite amazing the resonance the Lean Startup community outside Lagos is effecting.
A bit of thanks to LSM people – I think this is finally catching-on here.

I actually had 2 people ask me in church today to know more about Lean Startup. I really did not expect to talk lean in church, but then I had to do an explanation to one of them right there, He seemed to get the idea about the whole #custdev feedback loop.

I had another person give me a direct call yesterday, spent 5 minutes 23 sec explaining Lean Startup to him. Also posted comments on Facebook to give little explanation as to what Lean Startup is.

Just so we are clear in understanding, here is a bit more detail to it, not exhaustive I must say – which is why you should get Eric Ries’ Lean Startup Book at least for your first Lean Read. It is available here.

Would talk about 3 concepts in Lean and how they tie up.
First, a bit of general information about Lean Startup.
The Lean Startup way of doing things is radically different.
It in a way goes against the norm of what you expect in traditional business, enterprise or anything that involves spending resources.
It speaks for eliminating chances for waste -waste of time, money, skill, cognitive power and resources in general.
It is not a cheap way of doing things and then, it involves creating a system of experimental and validated learning.


This argues that whatever ideas we have is an assumption, an assumption that is invalidated- Period.
You got the idea in the shower or anywhere, consider it an invalidated idea.
This means you can’t place a huge bet on the outcomes.  You simply can’t say exactly what would happen if you executed the idea. So goes any knowledge in relation to the the idea –invalidated.

A quick example. The weather is so hot now, and I assume children in the neigbourhood would love iced lolly or ice cream to chill them, so I get the needed ingredients and I make Iced lolly.
Time to sell, and I get no sale, or few sales.
This could be the cause – Say about half of the children the neighborhood could perhaps have recent history of tummy upset and mummy thinks no sweet stuff until you are good to have them.
The other half, perhaps buy Ice-lolly at school and mom says “you can only have one a day” or some silent hidden reason.
These are very very hard to predict scenarios which one would never know except you validate your assumption by developing your customers before starting out.
That sounds a bit basic, still some folks still assume a whole lots and miss it.

Customer Development

Delivering products and services people want is linked with good customer development.
The term may be new, but it in fact means interacting with your customers. Some folks may mean it to be market research, or survey but it is not – at least not in that sense.
Surveys and the likes aim to get you information which you don’t know.
Customer Development aims to get you information anyway, whether you know it or not, it is an assumption in the first place, remember – and it gives you more – it is in the facial expressions, the emotional reactions, the pupil dilation, (if you can catch that), the voice tone e.t.c.
In essence, customer development validates or invalidates that piece of assumed knowledge via the feedback you get –which is not biased.

Back to the Ice Cream guy. Let’s call Him Sam.

He stood a chance with good customer development. Had he done it, he would have gotten useful information (Feedback)  and apply it to re-strategize.
The women tell him “Our children have tummy upset” and he could go back and make plans to include non-sugar/low-sugar Ice-cream/lollies in his options.

 I imagine him coming back to the woman saying “No worries madam, I have non-sugar Ice cream that has Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 and C.. Perfect for you Children, infact it would stop the tummy upset :)” – He stands a good chance.

For those who buy at school, upon discovering that through customer development, he could spend half the time at school.  The Children, seeing Uncle Sam their neighbor who sells Ice Cream would want to buy from him.  The Feedback would have eliminate the possible waste of resources.
In the case he is unable to meet the demands, that would be known early-on before investing into the venture.


Feedback is gold. It must be crafted into the whole system of your business. It is  like the compass of your business-ship. If your customers says no. It’s a no- no. They say yes and nod with it. Move fast.
But come back soon and ask again.
The average person would conclude (assume) uninformed that Ice-lolly/Ice-cream doesn't sell well in his neigbourhood, but with feedback, adjustments could be made and the true potential of the market is realized.

By the Way.

If you look at the concepts of  Lean Startup from a business plan standpoint, you may realize planning so long into the future is high risk. 3,5,10 years+  business plans are probably a sham. The rate of change these days is just crazy. Have what you want to achieve in view, but be flexible on how you get it. Experimentation is the new planning.

Yeah, that’s it – the Gospel according to LeanStartup – Enjoy the Journey


1 comment:

  1. That example was just out of the air..could be better, but I'm sure you guys get the point.