The Lean Startup – something for many to benefit from

by Justin Souter on August 31, 2012


One of my key learnings from working with Bobby and the team at Happiest has been around the emerging framework of Lean Startup.

Bobby has attended a number of events in this area, and I am immersing myself to really take to heart the embodied knowledge, and replace the seat-of-your-pants approach that seems typical for young businesses (and for me sometimes!).

This post provides introductory detail, and to signpost that I’ve got some other posts in the works with related material I believe readers will benefit from.


Lean Startup is a movement which is rapidly gaining traction, and often used in conjunction with Customer Development and Business Model Generation, to provide a decision-making framework for businesses navigating conditions of extreme uncertainty.

Lean Startup

The book’s promo site states:

The Lean Startup movement is taking hold in companies both new and established to help entrepreneurs and managers do one important thing: make better, faster business decisions. Vastly better, faster business decisions. Bringing principles from lean manufacturing and agile development to the process of innovation, the Lean Startup helps companies succeed in a business landscape riddled with risk. This book shows you how.

It’s a straightforward read, put into context with a number of case studies. I dipped into it at first, as Bobby had suggested I read the ‘Measure’ section in relation to the metrics work I was doing at Happiest. I’ve now started again from the beginning, and reckon another read after this one will help really embed the learnings!

Customer Development

Customer Development brings a similar discipline to new business development as is applied to product development. It’s not a case of “if you build it, they will come”. And anyway, what is it exactly that you *are* going to build?

Customer development exhorts entrepreneurs to ‘get out of the building’ and talk with customers. By doing this, a product which is ‘pulled’ by (potential) customers is more likely to succeed that one which is developed in secret and then released to an unsuspecting public. In doing this, entrepreneurs (and intrapreneurs) can reduce risk and increase their chances of success.

Below is a useful introduction by Steve:

Business Model Generation

Business Model Generation grew out of research conducted by Alexander Osterwalder.

The Business Model Canvas gives the ability to plan and / or review their progress against a benchmark of what any business should comprise.

According to the book’s webpage:

Business Model Generation is a practical, inspiring handbook for anyone striving to improve a business model – or craft a new one.

Disruptive new business models are emblematic of our generation. Yet they remain poorly understood, even as they transform competitive landscapes across industries. Business Model Generation offers you powerful, simple, tested tools for understanding, designing, re-working, and implementing business models.

Check out the 2 minute introductory video above, or else Alexander’s slidedeck:

Pulling it together

I’m very taken by Running Lean by Ash Maurya, and it’s on my Amazon Wish List. Check out the video – which brings together the different strands above. Check out the video.

“If you are starting a company, or want to adopt the Lean Startup approach, Running Lean is a must read.”
– Brad Feld, Foundry Group


In essence, and in conjunction with parallel developments in Customer Development and Business Model Generation and several related areas, Lean Startup is giving entrepreneurs in startups and within existing businesses a testable framework and mindset about what to do (and what not to).

The diagram below is a graphical summary of the Lean Startup, put together at South by Southwest (SXSW). Click on it to go to the dedicated site and check out the larger resolution.

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