Lean Startup and Unicycling

agile developmentWas reading ‘The Lean Startup‘ after John Fagan gave a talk at Norwich Startups group.

It made me think about the similarities between the Lean Startup Process and unicycling. Startups are inherently unstable and usually end in a crash. When your learning to unicycle its the same thing your constantly adjusting and pivoting to adjust to new information that your taking in the whole time. The situation is never stable and even if it appears to be for a while your just one bump away from a tumble.

Generally I think that Eric Ries has some useful ideas although its a bit tech focused. He describes the general ideas in part one how to measure/test in part two and then growing/adapting in part three.

I thought he would run out of ideas after part one and just repeat himself but the rest of the book was useful, part two more than part three. Its a bit self serving, he talks about organisations he works for and is involved with but I guess that means he can provide accurate examples. Its also a bit religious, like this is the only way. I’m sure it isn’t, like all ideas you take the useful bits for you from it. Some of it will seem familiar to you if you’ve read about Lean the Toyota Way, Six Sigma, Deming and all that.

These seemed the most useful ideas to me at the moment

  • Quick feedback – try something, get feedback from customers quickly
  • Cohort metrics – measure a cohort of users so you can compare them with earlier cohorts, to measure effectiveness of changes.
  • Experiments – A/B split tests that you can actually get useful and unambiguous information from.
  • Five Whys – keep asking why until you get to the root cause of the problem.

When you watch unicyclists they always make it look easy, its not, I guess its the same for successful businesses.