The lean model : startup history X

Lean Model, Startup History X

The lean startup model is the new fashion.

Developed already in the startup world and developing in the corporate world too now.
Yet, aside from calling lean a management model based partly on logic and partly on speed, this “lean” approach can also turn into a stamp of approval for failure too.

And failure is becoming too easy nowadays. Almost a standard.

Failing is ok, still, if happening after actually trying. Working hard and seriously does not mean success in the end but, at least, is an acceptable excuse for failure.
That is the kind of failure that can be deemed ok.
However, just dressing as a hipster and being CEO of a random something called company does not make a startup.
And not putting enough effort in the product/service delivered is also not a valid reason for failure.
That is basically where the difference is.
Too many people now feel that they can fail since everybody tends to deem failing acceptable and even an almost necessary step on the road to success (at building a startup).
But failing must teach lessons. And must allow to avoid mistakes the next time.
Which means more serious work, more planning, speed but at a reasonable pace and making sure not to launch and hit the wall straight away.

Lean, not stripped.

The lean model pushes towards speed, towards “MVP” (Most Valuable Product) but, at the same time, how valuable is a product that is not fully operational ?
Launch something that does the job, then fix and – maybe – improve.
This may allow to beat competition on adoption but what about the users adopting something that does offer shiny stuff but delivers a gloomy experience ?
This is true for apps for instance but, as a user and, sometimes, early adopter, I can not be bothered (to say it nicely) using an app that does not do half the job or crashes every time.
This is where speed and early adoption will turn in early discarding and a speedy retreat of potential customers.
Which, with today’s networks, can become a serious quality and customer experience issue.
And a full stop for a startup.

The corporate lean … .

Corporations. The men in suits (from a startup point of view).
They have recently been focusing more and more on the lean model, trying to adapt it to their own management system. Both in the search for lowered expenses and improved reactivity.
This does translate in the lean approach being mainly adopted for processes and organisation. The products and services still tend to go through a lengthy life prior to being marketed.
But, at the same time, for both (processes or products) there is an increasing trend to release without really beta testing.
This OK-to-update-later attitude taking over the very foundations of thinking things through and trying to avoid (basic) mistakes in the first place. Not to mention the theoretical building of a process (more often) or guidelines not adapted to the actual job.
The best example being terms and conditions written by lawyers and/or implemented by auditors … who are miles away from the reality of the market, of the everyday life of users.
The fix : just asking users what they think prior to releasing an invalid piece – especially when it comes to legal terms which can end up being void.

Lean is no wonder nor no excuse.

In the end, there is never a one recipe for success or successful product/organisation.
The lean model is no better or worse than another, just the fashionable one at the moment. The main point being to avoid just implementing a model without adapting it, without thinking things through.
Mistakes always come up – nothing is perfect – but people should rather try to avoid those which can be avoided.
That is lean with brains … .


Having read pieces both in favour or against the lean approach, I know people tend to debate it. What are your thoughts about it ?

Please do let me know.


Please feel free to let me know what you think

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