This year every company, small and large, is waking up to the lean startup concepts outlined by Eric Ries in his book, The Lean Startup.
Eric makes a strong case that companies are building too much of the wrong things. Many companies spend months developing a new idea, only to launch it with a big fanfare to an uncaring world.
Lean startups avoid this by validating their ideas quickly before they have invested too much time and money.
In the world of the lean startup, a new idea is tested as fast as possible to evaluate how much customers want it, and in particular, how much they are prepared to pay for it.
Using the lean startup build-measure-learn cycle, a small prototype or dummy piece of the product might be developed in a couple of days, run past a few hundred potential customers, and the results used to decide whether or not to invest valuable time and money in further developing the product.
A business or product can develop in small, incremental steps while reducing much of the risk of behind-the-scenes development and big bang product launches.
This sounds very much like the iterative and incremental approaches of agile frameworks like Scrum or XP. But how different is lean startup from agile? Is it just another fad, something completely new and different, or somehow an extension of the original agile frameworks?
The goal of a lean startup is to validating the assumptions behind your ideas early and often in order to reduce the risk of investing heavily in new products that the market may not be ready for. It is based on the assumption that your organization is already agile, able to quickly deliver new features. While agile methods answer the question of how to deliver products iteratively and incrementally, lean startup answers the question of what an agile organization should build. Agile provides the means to create a fast-moving organization, lean startup makes sure that what the organization builds is meaningful to its customers.
At this year’s 7th Much Ado About Agile conference, you can learn more about how lean startup and agile concepts work together. You can listen to real experiences of using lean startup and agile methods from speakers such as Declan Whelan, or put the concepts into practice in the Lean Product Management tutorial.