A lean, mean, start-up machine

I’m a perfectionist. My work life is a tight balancing act between getting things done on time and getting them done well. So, of course, I was intrigued when I ran across an article detailing a new course taught at Harvard on “lean startup” methodology.

A couple of interesting ideas:

– going to market quickly, rather than lurking until the product is perfected – meaning launching with an MVP (minimum viable product), that is, with a product that includes just enough features to allow useful feedback from early adopters. The benefits lie in the ability to incorporate this feedback in the subsequent versions of the product, which is increasingly consumer driven

– scaling up only when product market fit (PMF) is achieved, also known as the moment when the solution matches the problem. The key here is the ability to “pivot” aka change the course when needed to incorporate lessons learned in the testing period, whether it’s a change in target, business model, or the structure of the product itself.

The caveat? Lean start-up doesn’t work so well in capital or research intensive fields.

But for me, the lessons extend to more than starting up a business, and can be applicable to any project, including a marketing campaign. Too often we strive for perfection, invest a lot of money in achieving it, and miss the mark completely. Corporate websites that are perennially under construction because they are not excellent, blogs we don’t start because we haven’t gotten the design or category structure quite right, and so many other marketing activities could benefit from this lean approach.

I know I’ve learned a lesson, even without sitting in that class. But be honest, doesn’t that just make you yearn to be a Harvard student?


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Filed under Management thought, Organizational behavior

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