Paradigm shift – Theoretical brilliance, practically difficult
I titled this essay in this way because reading the lean startup, I begin to get excited. The concept that you don’t have to have “the” perfect concept, vision, product, marketing plan, to achieve success in business is liberating to the entrepreneurial mind. Prior to reading this book, I had a somewhat similar perspective to the concept to the think “Lean”, but the book gave a clear process of execution and organization I had previously lacked. My perspective was all theoretical. It is evident Eric has used the method himself and achieved success by using examples and providing a clear outline of what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. I am challenged when reading this book to take better account of different parameters to obtain success.
How it helps
The book is divided into three chronological parts related to the business organizational development. Vision, Steer, Accelerate. These three parts are then divided into four chapters each. The four chapters Start, Define, Learn, Experiment gave me a clear pattern to follow by introducing the Build, Measure, Learn Feedback Loop. As previously mentioned, I looked at creating a business this way before but it is challenging to execute. “Start”, for me was the foundation of the concept putting the building blocks in place to reshape how I think about approaching business execution.“Define” describes how the organization “as a whole” can be more agile by creating an innovation factory, allowing people to be creative, move, do, and experiment. Which is great in theory but practically difficult without sacrificing a consistent a brand image. This is truly a Startup concept. “Learn” really brought to me the concept of testing with intention as a method of obtaining data to measure. Which provides validated learning, which gives empirical data to discover valuable truths. To provide more concrete, more accurate, and faster than the market forecasting. The main objective here is speed. “Experiment” really delivers the meat of what challenges my thinking. You are no longer developing a theoretical inquiry, but a real product to test. In traditional thinking, entrepreneurs make two assumptions that are not tested, the value hypothesis and the growth hypothesis. Which is whether a product or service really delivers value to customers once using it. Also, how new customers will discover a product or service. These hypothesis’ do not need to be made if you are answering these four questions in the experimental phase.
- Do consumers recognize that they have the problem you are trying to solve?
- If there was a solution, would they buy it?
- Would they buy it from us?
- Can we build a solution for that problem?
Part two “Steer” Introduces the feedback loop, which consists of “Ideas > build > product > measure > data > learn > ideas > and so on (circle).” Within this part, Ries deepens his argument based on the focus in testing the product to get the feedback as soon as possible. This feedback then produces the data needed to measure and learn. The measurement material from this book I personally received the most benefit from. It gives me some very good parameters to use. Parameters that NEEDS to be measured to succeed. Notably, The 3 mA´s of metrics: Actionable, Accessible, Auditable. This metrics test is the data is first, useful (must demonstrate cause and effect), second, able (can something be done with this information, and lastly, credible. Once Data is gathered and assessed it time to make the decisions what to do next, whether to Pivot or Preserve.The rest of the book gives ways to perfect and accelerate the cycle.
The structure provided in this book is itself a tool to use, in the processes of executing the Lean Startup concept which I like. The real take away from this book for me that I will take to heart is to give attention the speed of the entire loop. When I think about other success I have had in my life, I think about the training I did to succeed. I have played ice hockey my whole life and many times I would isolate a certain skill needed/desired to use in the final product. But when put into games it didn’t help as much as I had hoped for. This could be compared to a feature in a product. Although I added a feature to my product, it didn’t bring the results I was looking for, to score, get assist, or to win games. I began to pivot my training, I began to train in a way that was using only the tools needed to succeed. I began to think big picture, in the terms of the book, I began to think about the entire loop. I trained not the little things separately but the things that mattered and when they mattered. This caused me to change how I train. I believe there are times and places for this theory to be put into practice. But, we as entrepreneurs need to come to a place that we are happy with our “features” before we begin this “success” loop. If we utilize this loop, our purpose/goal can become only make to money. Which for me personally I do not want to find myself ONLY doing what the customers want, when they want, ONLY to make money. I am taking this book with a grain of salt and taking some principles away for what I call inexpensive success. The reason I titled this theoretically brilliant but practically difficult is that we as humans like to do things we enjoy doing. Everyone is not a million air because I believe people do not want to sacrifice other things in their life to obtain the success they are hoping for.