Whether or not you are familiar with the ‘Lean Start-Up’ approach, you can gain some valuable insights into this innovative concept when you visit Kent 2020 Start-Up LIVE on 23rd October at the Kent Event Centre, where one of the UK’s leading thinkers in this area, Dr Tendayi Viki, will be presenting a free workshop on the subject…
What is Lean Start-up?
Too many new businesses begin with an idea for a product or service that they think people want: then spend months, or sometimes even years, perfecting that offering without ever showing it to prospective customers, even in a rudimentary form. When they subsequently fail to achieve sufficient uptake, it is often because they never spoke to potential buyers to find out whether the offering was appealing – or not.
When customers eventually communicate that they don’t care about the idea, often through simple indifference, the start-up fails.
To overcome this common failing, the ‘Lean Start-Up’ method aims to provide a scientific approach to creating and managing start-ups, to bring new products and services to the market faster. The Lean approach aims to show entrepreneurs how to drive a start-up business (ie. how to steer, when to turn and when to persevere) and how to accelerate the growth of a new business by adopting an agile approach to developing new products and services, at the lowest possible risk.
Creating Order From Chaos
The lack of a tailored management process has led many start-ups to abandon all process, opting instead for “just do it” approach, that avoids all forms of management.
But this is not the only option. Using the Lean Start-Up approach, companies can create order instead of chaos, by using simple tools to continuously test their vision with customers. Lean Start-up isn’t simply about spending less money. Nor is it just about “failing fast, failing cheap”. It is about putting a structured process around the development of new products and services.
The Lean Start-Up method starts from the premise that every start-up is a grand experiment attempting to answer a question. The question is not “Can this product be built?” but “Should this product be built?” and then “Can we build a sustainable business around this set of products and services?”
This experiment is more than just theoretical inquiry; it is a first prototype. If the experiment is successful, it allows entrepreneurs to get started their campaign: enlisting early adopters, adding employees to each further experiment or iteration and eventually starting to build the product or service. By the time the finished product or service is made available to the wider world, it will already have established customers. It will have solved real problems and built detailed specifications for what its target market requires.
Minimum Viable Product
A core component of Lean approach is the ‘build > measure > learn’ feedback loop. The first step is identifying the problem that needs solving and then developing a ‘Minimum Viable Product’ (MVP) to begin the testing process as quickly as possible. Once the MVP is established, the start-up business can work on tuning the engine. This will involve measurement and learning and must include metrics that can used to assess cause and effect.
The Lean Start-Up methodology often utilises an investigative development tool called the “Five Whys” – asking simple questions to study and solve problems along the way. When this process of measuring and learning is done correctly, it will be clear that a company is improving the business model or not. If not, it is a sign that it is time to change direction to test a new hypothesis about the offering and the current strategy.
While progress in manufacturing is often measured by the production of high quality goods, the measure of progress for Lean Start-ups is validated learning: finding clear answers in an environment of extreme uncertainty. Once entrepreneurs embrace validated learning, then development times can reduce very sharply. Once businesses focus on figuring the right offering to develop – ie. the thing that customers actually want and will pay for – they won’t need to spend months waiting for a beta launch to change the company’s direction. Instead, their plans for new products and services can be adapted continuously and in real-time: inch-by-inch and minute-by-minute.
You can find out about the Lean Start-Up concept in our free workshop on ‘Corporate Entrepreneurship’ at Kent 2020 Vision Start-Up LIVE, presented by Dr Tendayi Viki from the University of Kent.
About the Speaker:
Dr Tendayi Viki wears many hats as an academic, author, entrepreneur and consultant. He holds an MSc and a PhD in Psychology. He teaches Research Methods and Organizational Psychology at the University of Kent (UK). During his early academic career, Dr Viki researched various topics in social psychology including social identity, dehumanization, mergers and acquisitions, attitudes towards criminal justice and perceptions of hiphop music. He has also been a Research Assistant at Harvard University (USA), a Visiting Scholar at the University of Queensland (Australia) and a Visiting Research Fellow at Stanford University (USA). He has published over 30 scientific papers and several book chapters.