Lean Startup (for product and software development)

Posted on February 21, 2011 by


The tenth anniversary of Agile is upon us.  We just concluded a 12 part review of the Agile Manifesto.

lean room

Lean room - not a whole lot of space for paper work.

Agile was a software development out to business, innovation.  Or it could have been called “geeks to execs”.  Now for a fast forward, to today. Emerging trends and practices include those that fuse business, design and nimble development practices together.  They’re not always “geek driven”.  Sometimes its entrepreneurs or product designers steering the ship.

A leading practice is the Lean Startup.  Determining the exact roots of the movement is challenging.  It seems to be a somewhat organic meeting of User Experience (UX) or designers, with business entrepreneurs (Silicon Valley, NYC, Seattle) who bring a passionate customer focus (similar to Lean manufacturing and service) to new product innovation.  The roll out of that product innovation is aided by quick Agile driven releases.

Joshua Seiden provides a great synthesis of how the three disciplines (UX, Agile and Business Startup) are fusing to form the Lean Startup.  Take a moment and read the blog post from Joshua – here’s a sample.

“I’m telling you this because we’re at a multiple discovery moment as we speak.  The time has arrived that three communities–the business, design, and technology communities–have independently discovered the same thing. That the best way to build new technology products, services, and the businesses that deliver them is to work in small, cross-functional, highly collaborative teams.”

Working in small, cross-functional collaborative is not new.  It’s been a way of making stuff happen (think WEMSHA) for the last 15 years.  What is new is that business, design and technology have somewhat independently driven to that same result and applied similar techniques for that collaborative effort.  Customer focus and Time To Market (TTM) are two factors that lead to one important thing – revenue.  Unlike the venture capital backed efforts of the late 1990’s, which embraced TTM, the customer focus is vital to produce stuff that people will actually want.   Clicks, eyeballs, presence alone will not cut it – cash flow is king.  The way to that cash flow is to focus on the customer, hear their voice!

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