Summary: Lean Startup advocates have won the theoretical argument and the meme is spreading worldwide. Entrepreneurs are now telling me, “Ok, I get Lean Startup theory. But what should I actually DO?” For us to continue being relevant we need to shift our discussion from “What” and “Why” to “How”.
2008-2012: Era of Lean Startup “What” and “Why”
In 2008 I read a book called 4 Steps to the Epiphany and a blog where some guy named Eric Ries was talking about professionalizing the management science of Entrepreneurship using a term called “Lean Startup“.
Since then I’ve tried to spread the meme by engaging with the startup ecosystem through mentoring, organizing meetups, hosting workshops, and supporting educational programs. From Omaha to Beijing, these ideas were new to the startup ecosystem and people have asked me to talk about “what” and “why”.
As of the end of 2012, the movement has spread worldwide and it is hard to find a major city that doesn’t have a University program, meetup group, or accelerator/incubator advocating Steve’s and Eric’s ideas.
Lean Startup Advocates Won the Theoretical Argument
We’ve successfully won the first battle in professionalizing the management science of entrepreneurship. 4 years ago I was constantly asked, “Who is actually doing this?”, and “Why do we need this stuff?” These discussions are becoming less frequent because Lean Startup detractors have failed to present a theoretical alternative1.
What I am increasingly hearing from entrepreneurs is, “Ok, I get it. But what should I DO? HOW can I start applying these practices today?”
As a movement, we will only continue to be relevant if we move past the conceptual discussions and start helping entrepreneurs execute on Lean Startup.
2013: Era of Lean Startup “How To” Begins
While the principles behind Lean Startup are simple, applying them is really tough.
“Get out of the office” sounds obvious until you’re sitting with 50 meetings of notes from potential customers trying to make sense of it all. Case studies are helpful but a 2-page “how we got lean” summary doesn’t adequately convey the challenge of having to make decisions based on such little information.
Entrepreneurs don’t want to read the definition of Pivot – they want to know when they should Pivot.
They don’t want hear why they should use Customer Development, they want to know what they should do if they can’t find customers to develop.
They don’t want to know the definition of an MVP, they want to know how to build an MVP.
These are the questions I’ve personally been tackling for the last 4 years in my products, and I will dedicated most of my writing and speeches in 2013 to talking about “How” and pointing you to good resources that I personally use.
2012 in Review – Best “How To” Lean Startup Resources
We need more Lean Startup “How To” resources, but here is a list of some of the best that are available today.
Lean Startup Events
Experiencing Lean Startup is 1,000 times more valuable than reading about it.
Lean Startup Machine
I didn’t really understand Lean Startup until I attended a LSM competition
-A quote I’ve heard from dozens of entrepreneurs around the world.
LSM is the best way to learn Lean Startup because:
- You’ll learn the theory and put it into practice.
- You’ll get a chance to apply the principles on an idea to which you’re not emotionally attached.
- It is compressed, weekend-event where you’re immersed with other people who are learning.
Best of all, you don’t have to quit the day job to do it. My advice is to find a LSM coming to a city near you, give the family notice that you’ll be working that weekend, and go.
Startup Weekend NEXT
Steve is rolling out Startup Weekend NEXT in 2013, a multi-week “pre-accelerator” that has the potential to become the best startup education program in the world. I’m quite excited about it and working to bring it to Beijing in 2013.
Lean Startup Books
Ash Maurya’s Running Lean still remains the best “How To” guide. I haven’t yet read Steve Blank’s The Startup Owners Manual but others claim it is also good. Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf also holds good promise.
These books are written by people who talk about their own experiences as entrepreneurs.
Lean Startup Blogs
Lots of folks are talking about Lean Startup, few are doing it, and fewer of us still are doing it and writing about it.
Reading Lean Startup success stories is entertaining and inspirational, but watching an incredibly hard working, talented person struggle to put theory into practice provides real value.
Photo credit: cayusa
- Occasionally I still hear, “I’m skeptical of Lean Startup”. Please know that this line of reasoning isn’t helpful unless you can layout an alternative vision ↩
- Please suggest others in the comments below and I’ll take a look at their blogs. I’m looking for people who are blogging about how they apply Lean Startup to their actual practices ↩