Is “Lean Startups” a misnomer?

In an article last week, I showed that the careful-experiment, iterative, innovation process called “Build-Measure-Learn” by Eric Ries had earlier emerged in a dissertation research by Gary Lynn as “Probe-(study)-Learn” twenty years earlier. Dr. Lynn studied goods-producing firms. There are good reasons to be aware of the earlier studies

  1. Thought pioneers should receive proper credit. But more importantly…
  2. The experimental iterative has been known in the product development literature for over 20 years, so it should be a robust theory.
  3. The process originally emerged in studies of discontinuous hardware, so the principles should apply universally, not just to web-based businesses or software.

Lean or Not?

One interesting contrast between the “Probe and Learn” article and the writing of Eric Ries on Lean Startups is that the former actually go to great lengths to contrast their procedure to the Lean Process. Lynn et al. cite The Machine that Changed the World several times and note that their Probe and Learn procedure is for discontinuous innovation not for the mundane innovation described in that book (which is one of the original works on Lean). Ries also stresses that Lean Startups are doing discontinuous innovation…

Interesting issue! The authors of “Probe and Learn” viewed it partially as an antidote to Lean Thinking while a promoter of the process for startups views it as a Lean process…

I have thought about it and conversed with a friend at the Lean Institute and I think Lean Startups is OK and that “Probe and Learn” could have been called lean innovation: What do you think???

For more information I recommend:

This entry was posted in Co-creation or User collaboration, Customer Research Methods, effectuation, entrepreneurship, experiential innovation, Experiment, Slow Burn Entrepreneurship and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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