Our one takeaway: Lean Startup

It’s often hard to know where to start when it comes to looking at working with new methodologies. We’ve put together a little series that highlights our one key takeaway from each of our favourites. 

The Lean Startup: Embrace the ‘Minimum Viable’.

We use the phrase ‘minimum viable’ all the time. We all know about building an MVPs - but what about using the same concept in developing brands, audiences, marketing campaigns and even teams?

The Lean Startup is entrepreneur, Eric Reis’ inspiration to put structure and process around the ups and downs of an entrepreneurial journey. For anyone building a new idea - whether you sit within a startup or a corporate team - it gives permission to get things wrong and to fail fast, whilst offering a way to measure whether things are going in the right direction. It shows you how to validate opportunities fast. And how to find a confident path forward. The thinking behind it has grown to become a real cultural movement, driving change in both the startup and corporate innovation worlds. Steve Blank referred to it as “the road map for innovation for the twenty-first century." 

You might assume that the methodology isn’t anything new for large businesses - as the title implies, it was inspired by Lean methodology. However, the approaches come from almost the complete opposite mindset. Lean methodologies started out as ways to optimise manufacturing - building in flexibility and agility in order to reduce waste. 

Lean Startup is about testing against a market. Working out as quickly as possible whether or not people actually want what a business is offering by building the 'minimum viable' and getting it out into the world. It reduces the risk of investment into projects that won’t fly. 


Are you frustrated by a lack of willingness to engage or adopt new methodologies. That people ‘just aren't getting it'?

We know how hard it is. Implementing any of these requires much more than a change in process and approach. It requires a change in culture.

If you'd like to learn more about how we help teams move forward and seed a change in culture for the long term, get in touch here.

What do we actually mean?

Minimum Viable Business case: What is the one big insight behind the opportunity that you see? How big is the opportunity? And why is it important to do something about it? What does it mean for your business if you do nothing?

Minimum Viable Audience: Who are your early adopters? The niche group that care the most about the problem you are trying to solve? These are people that help you prove an opportunity exists - they give you early-stage traction and a network to get real-time feedback from.

Minimum Viable Brand: What are the most important things to your audience? What is the shortest list of things that you need to communicate with your audience? It's never going to be the best use of your time and resources to build a big book of brand guidelines when an idea is in it's earliest form. Prioritise based on what really matters the most to the people you are trying to build relationships with. 

Minimum Viable Marketing plan: What is the smallest thing you can do to get engaged feedback from this audience? Go to them where they already hang out. This could be anwhere from a meetup to specialist events and conferences, to an online forum like Mumsnet. Find ways to reduce friction wherever possible - even if it means doing things in a way that isn't sustainable in the long-term.

Minimum Viable Team: Who else is motivated by the opportunity you see. Someone who is willing to put in a little bit extra to go above and beyond when the opportunity is still uncertain. What skillsets do you really need at this point? To validate the opportunity and start to build belief. Think small - set up a regular meet-up before you set up a dedicated task-force.

A final thought.

Every team is different, and finding the right way to get the best out of everyone is unlikely to be as simple as finding one methodology and following the rules. This article is about a key high-level idea within the Lean Startup that has fundamentally changed the way that I work - but it might be something different, for you, that inspires a new way of building ideas or a new way of working. It's well worth a read - you can get it here - or watch Eric Ries himself summarise it in an hour here.

Read next.

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Imo is a partner at Think Plan Thrive, a London based Strategy company. We help organisations seize opportunity. Execute and grow, fast. We’re passionate about supporting individuals and teams in big companies to drive change faster. In a way that's less risky and drives positive cultural change too. 

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