Lean Startup: The build, measure, learn loop

Podcast Lean Startup: The big picture


Hello, and welcome to the bottom skills podcast. I’m Mike Parsons the CEO of Qualitance and we have reached the final episode of our lean startup series. And we’re going to put lean into some context. That’s all right. We’re going to put it in somewhat of a bigger picture. Because lean is such a great methodology.

It’s such a powerful tool. As you have probably guessed from this series, I’m a huge fan, but I think it’s also important to realize it does a particular job. And if you want to use it. There were different times and places to use it, but it also needs to work together with some other practices as well.

And so I’m going to try and map them all out for you. So it’s a bit of an audacious undertaking. But I really think that this is a great exercise now that we’ve got a very good sense of some of those key practices of the lean startup.

Let’s put it into a bigger picture. Okay. So let’s take the challenge of trying to put lean startup into one sentence.

And I think it’s the loop that we’ve talked about on this series. And let me pitch it to you. Lean startup is all about build, measure, learn. If there is anything. That can sumarize the lean starter in just a few words. It’s the loop. Cause it all comes from there. You know, you need to build your MVP. You need to make sure you have the right data.

You need to learn and ask yourself pivot or persevere. Which growth engine and so on and so forth so much inside of it, but it spins off, this central point of build measure, learn loop. And I think this is the real power because you know, the context here is that the old way of building software was what we call the waterfall approach. Which starts with this heavy requirements and specifications.

And it differs all of the testing, all of the learning and measuring till the very end. And frankly, that’s why it was becoming really an outdated process in such a fast moving world. So. Lean startup really, is an essential tool. If you want to build, measure, learn, if you want to test and validate it’s essential.

An exercise of two parts. First, let’s make a quick inventory of some of the other practices. You need to build a great product, but let’s talk about when it should be used within the journey of building and managing a product.

So I think something that’s very close to this idea of build, measure, learn, which is in the lean startup, is this idea of rapid prototyping. Now, rapid prototyping for me is that you test. If you can get the job done, for your end users, by what I call stimulating the senses, thats the key thing about rapid prototyping.

You don’t conduct, sort of a traditional focus group and say to somebody, Hey, would you like to maybe consider this idea? Now you actually build a light version of it. You actually get them to try and complete a task to try to actually try and use this model, this sketch, uh, this light version of your product and rapid prototyping, because it stimulates the sensors.

It gives you all this feedback. This is really interesting. You actually need to do both the lean startup and rapid prototyping. So if you really want to build a world-class products, you need to have this practice of rapid prototyping. So where does this interact with link? Well, um, you build something, you don’t have to build a full product.

You can build a prototype and then the results of which is something that you can measure and learn. Now, another thing. That really is close, is adjacent to rapid prototyping. And lean is design thinking. Now some people might actually say rapid prototyping is part of design thinking, but I like to elevate design thinking to being the following idea.

It’s how you empathize with users, not only to prototype, but to survey, to interview, to almost be ethnographic, to be like Sherlock Holmes, to really obsess about their world, their jobs to be done. So what design thinking does can help you develop a much better hypothesis at the start of your lean startup process?

So with lean it’s like you’re going to build a hypothesis. Okay. Well, if you use a number of the practices from design thinking, you can start already much closer to success if you use design thinking, because let’s face it. If you, um, to say, Hey, I want to do something in financial services.

Then, how do you know where you kind of kick off with your lean startup approach?Well, I would always use design thinking to find out where the biggest unmet pains and unmet gains are existing in the market. Who’s not solving some problems, what’s, what’s up for grabs. And then I would, you know, take the build measure, learn loop, uh, to that area. 

Okay. So we’ve talked a little bit about how lean startup interacts with rapid prototyping and design thinking. Let’s now go to a big one. Let’s go to agile software development.

Now I think at the core of the agile software development is the idea of building small teams who have a focus on. A prioritization of working code over lots of lengthy kind of waterfall ESC documentation. Now those agile teams will work.Probably using scrum probably with a two week sprint and you know, what they should build, measure and learn within that two week sprint.

That’s where the lean startup comes a great agile process. We’ll have the measuring and learning from lane inside of it to make sure that they’re. Team or building something that the user actually needs and wants.

So that’s the inter interaction there. Now, all of this will get you to a product that you launch and that’s where you really, really, really need to go out in the world and to do some growth marketing. Now. It’s really interesting here. I think you can argue that growth marketing takes a lot from lean startup and growth marketing.Is this idea of you’ve got like a funnel.

Which starts with, you know, generally awareness and goes right through all the steps to customers, referring you to, to new customers. And this is the funnel and growth marketing obsesses about all the steps in the funnel, because traditionally we only focused on the early parts of the funnel.

It’s got a huge test and learn, growth marketing. It really used the new way of doing marketing or traditional, uh, brand marketing. And again, once your product is live, that’s when it’s time to use it. Okay, so I’ve hit you with five big ones. So we started obviously with the lean startup, but we went to rapid prototyping, design thinking, agile software development, and we just talked about growth marketing.

Now there is one more and. The reality is that all five of these, let’s say methodologies practices. They’re all done by PayPal. No matter how obsessed we are with all of the skills, mental models that come with them. What we’ve just talked about is, is no one human individual. Does all of this in a silo, in a tower in isolation, all of this work is done in teams.

So we have to talk about culture because culture is what drives teams. So if you want to put the lean startup into practice, if you really want to inspire, motivate, and get people really. Moving in the right way, then you really do need to consider.

This idea of how you build high-performance teams. And we talked a lot about this in our agile masterclass, so I don’t want to get too distracted because you know what I’m like, I’ll get, I’ll get all excited about this and start doing an agile masterclass and what is meant to be a very short, um, but, uh, succinct, um, uh, Little podcast, but I do want to attempt to, to pitch you this.

I think there’s a couple of ideas that came from some really fantastic work by a guy called Patrick Lencioni. And his thoughts were around the dysfunctions of a team. So how I want to wrap this up is I want to talk about. Five characteristics that you’re going to need an a team, not only to do lean startup, but to do all of these things.

So here’s a quick look at this. I think you need in your team. If you want to do great at lean startup, if you want to do great at any of these things, there needs to be trust between the team members. And that always starts by the leaders demonstrating vulnerability. You know, holding up their hand and they say, Hey, I didn’t get this right.

I’m going to do better next time. And I think the second thing attain needs is the ability to have tough conversations to embrace conflict. And then when they do that, when there’s been rigorous conversation and argument, then you can actually get behind the best idea and you can all be accountable for your contribution to that.

And lastly, You can men obsess about the results trust conflict. Commitment, accountability and results. That’s what it’s really going to take to do lean startup. So whilst it’s so cool to think about it. This is a mental model what’s really crucial is that you actually know that human beings are going to have to do this.

They’re going to have to put it into action. So you really have to pay attention to not only the skills, but the behaviors too.

All right. What a journey, huh? Agile put in context. I hope you’ve enjoyed, agile and lean and design thinking. It’s such a great universe, but most importantly, today what we’ve done is seen where we place the lean startup methodology in this greater universe of product tools, methodologies, frameworks, and practices.

And I hope this really does give you a little bit of inspiration, a little bit of practical advice for you to go out and to build a great product. All right. So there you go. I’m Mike Parsons since I’m the CEO of Qualitance. This was the bottom-up skills podcast. That’s a wrap.

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