Micah's Mashup

Running Lean with Ash Maurya himself

If you’ve been following me along my journey at Techstars you know we have had some awesome speakers on extremely relevant topics.

Tonight we had the pleasure to hear from Ash Maurya, author of “Running Lean” How to Iterate from Plan A to a plan that works. I recently finished his book and found it extremely beneficial, especially given the context of where the Techstars companies are at and where they want to go.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the Lean Startup Methodology TheLeanStartup.com does a good job of explaining it copied below:

  1. A core component of Lean Startup methodology is the build-measure-learn feedback loop. The first step is figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a minimum viable product (MVP) to begin the process of learning as quickly as possible.

Today we live in an age where we have instant access to information and readily available tools that previously were a barrier to entry. It is easier than ever to throw up a decent looking website and getting on Social Media, this can be accomplished all in a day if not an hour. Not too long ago, entrepreneur’s would spend days putting together a lengthy business plan and projecting out revenues for one, three and five years in the future. Not only was this a big waste of time but the investors he was writing it for would likely never even read it!

Mitigating waste is the fundamental principle of the Lean Methodology. Womak/Jones define waste in their book “Lean Thinking”

“Waste is any human activity which absorbs resources but creates no value.”

A lengthy business model (10+ pages) is wasteful. Very few, if any, companies are in a position to spend days working on a business plan and stick with that plan indefinitely, that’s just not the way the world works [anymore]. That is why the Lean Canvas whittles down a plan to one page. The brevity forces entrepreneurs to drill down their problem, solution, etc to a few keywords or maybe a sentence or two. In the early stages of a company your business plan can and will likely change form how you originally envisioned it. The Lean Canvas is all about getting to the hard questions and breaking down assumptions while testing and learning all along the way.

Ash had a lot of great quotes but this is especially relevant:

“Reasonably smart people can rationalize anything but entrepreneurs are especially gifted at this.”

Here is a sample Lean Canvas for those of you who are interested:

Lean Canvas

If any of this looks or sounds at all interesting to you; I would highly recommend reading some literature on the topic that have become staples in the entrepreneurial community. Ash’s Book, Running Lean, provides an extremely practical and tactical approach to operating in a lean manner. “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries provides a high level, more theoretical approach to the lean methodology built off the work of his mentor, Steve Blank. It would be worth checking out some of Steve Blank’s work to get a feel for where this all stemmed from. These books together along with some online resources (just google “Lean Canvas” or “Lean Startup Methodology” and you will have a wealth of resources).

The bottom of Ash’s last slide says:

“Life is too short to build something no one wants!”… The Lean Methodology is there to help entrepreneurs mitigate waste along this path.

Enjoy and feel free to comment with any additional resources or feedback or just to start a discussion.

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