I just finished a book: The Lean Startup. It's a model for building successful new products/startups extremely efficiently, developed by startup entrepreneur Eric Reis. No genius needed, just a method. I have to say I'm impressed: the theory and the case studies are very convincing.
Fairly quickly into the book, I started to draw mental connections with another lean model: Holacracy. No surprise here, both share a similar Agile inspiration. They both emphasize a "dynamic steering" management style based on direct feedback from reality, as opposed to grand strategies based on assumptions.
How about putting Lean Startup and Holacracy side by side to see how they compare? That's the fun exercise this post is about.
- Let's start with a quick and dirty overview of each model,
- Then I'll suggest a way Holacracy and Lean Startup fit together
- Then I'll give a table comparing characteristics of each model
Lean Startup: Learn What the Market Want
|Fig 1. The Lean Startup "Build-Measure-Learn" Feedback Loop|
The starting assumption of the Lean Startup is that nowadays, with products being more and more informational and immaterial, the key question is not "Can we make it?" but "Will people buy it?" For Reis, most startups fail because they build something that nobody wants.
So the goal of the Lean Startup is to learn as fast as possible, with the least resources possible, what product we need to build to sustain a thriving business. How to do that? By carefully testing our assumptions, as shows the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop depicted above (Fig. 1).
The process goes as follow:
- You get ideas for a new product. Identify the most risky assumptions that you're making about the market.
- Build the "minimum viable product" that will allow you to test your assumptions, and release it.
- Measure how users interact with your product to learn how valid are your assumptions.
- Based on real data, come up with new ideas to improve or change the product, and run them through the same process. And so on...
The Lean Startup builds new products incrementally, each iteration fine-tuning the product according to real feedback from the market (or changing strategy — "pivot" — if necessary). Overall, The Lean Startup brings together Agile development and Customer development methods in one model.