There is a bit of a movement afoot in the startup world called the Lean Startup. While the word lean might conjure up notions of cheap, it’s really about taking a scientific approach to innovating, measuring and responding in ways that stop companies from wasting time and money.
The basis of the concept, as applied to startups, comes from the Lean manufacturing world popularized by Toyota. Lean manufacturing is a production practice that considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination.
In The Lean Startup, Ries attempts to show entrepreneurs how to bring the principles of Lean manufacturing and agile development to innovation.
According to Ries, startups that apply the lean method will achieve dramatically lower development costs, faster time to market, and higher quality products in the years to come.
While the application in the real world can get very complex the concept is rather simple – using a cycle of build, measure and learn, startups can determine what works and what doesn’t and make the necessary changes and fixes or determine to end the ideas altogether.
One of my favorite case studies in the book involves a tool I use everyday – Dropbox. Drew Houston, CEO and Founder of Dropbox applied Eric Ries’s Lean Startup concepts and started iterating their product much faster in order to test what customers really wanted, early and often. Using Lean Startup principles, in just 15 months, Dropbox went form 100,000 registered users to over 4,000,000.
Anyone can participate in the movement and learn about the principles by joining or starting a Lean Startup Meetup Group – find one here.
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