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Father of Lean Startup Method on How the System has Changed



Steve Blank is a serial-entrepreneur and professor of entrepreneurship at Stanford University, who’s known for invented the Customer Development Method in the mid 90s that lead to the Lean Startup Movement that arose in the 2000s.


The Lean Startup methodology helps to shorten product development cycles and reduce cost by establishing who the customer base is and how to meet their specific needs through frequent feedback cycles. Even huge corporations like General Electric have managed to successfully implement the system, proving it isn’t just effective for small-scale startups.


In 2013, after a series of Lean Startup experiments in Silicon Valley over a span of ten years, Blank wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review, titled “Why the Lean start-Up Changes Everything,” explaining why the method has enjoyed so much success even outside of Silicon Valley. Today, though, Blank’s mind on the topic has been changed.


In a 2017 interview with HBR, Blank said: “...lean start-up changed nothing, because I will contend that after three or four years of watching corporations try to adopt a lean methodology, that it hasn’t affected the top or bottom line for reasons that are a lot more cultural and organizational than they are about whether you have an incubator, an accelerator, or a chief innovation officer, and that was the surprise for me.”


What he means here is that there have been many instances of companies attempting to adopt the Lean Startup methodology. However, many businesses are run on traditional waterfall models, and the switch to a more agile system doesn’t happen overnight. Companies who expect their workers to “do” agile without open communication, while retaining the hierarchical and non-co-operative nature of typical businesses rarely succeed, and instead their plans could backfire and end up harming the business.


If you’re motivated by the results that agile methods could bring, then consider integrating agile values into the workplace and altering the structure of your business to ensure a complete adoption of the agile system. After all, the agile system requires the entirety of a business to change their mind-sets, rather than leaving it to a few workers. contact Arvind at The Agile Works at arvind@theagileworks.com for more information on adopting agile practices.


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