RunningLeanHQ – MVP Update

The RunningLeanHQ MVP is just over 2 weeks old and we’re already doing a major pivot. I’ll present the course correction in a lessons learned format below:

We Thought

1. We needed a place to collect tactical Running Lean case-studies

The site was originally intended as an extension to my book – allowing others to share their own hacks, riffs, and tactical how-tos from “Running Lean”. We planned on doing this by curating case-studies from both beginning and more experienced practitioners.

2. There seemed to be an opportunity to extend to a Lean Startup repository

During the Lean Startup meetup organizers meeting held during SXSW, a number of folks expressed interest in seeing a centralized repository for Lean Startup specific content. Given that we had already committed resources to creating something similar we talked to Eric Ries, shared the concept on the Lean Startup Circle group, and setup calls with other Lean Startup practitioners.

What We Learned

1. Yes to more curated case-studies

Everyone loved the idea of seeing more case-studies – especially if they were curated.

2. Current positioning was sending a mixed-signal

While most thought this was a great initiative, several voiced concerns around the conflation of “Running Lean” and “Lean Startup”.

1. Commercial interests
There was concern around the “commercialization” of Lean Startup. Yes, I have written a book and do teach the occasional Running Lean workshop but neither is my core business. I am a product guy and NOT pivoting to a consultant.

I recently wrote a post describing the chasm Agile fell into and while I can’t guarantee Lean Startup won’t go the same way, I’m not going to be the one to push it in.

2. There already is a Lean Startup wiki for case-studies
As far as I can tell the wiki is not active. Also, our goal with the site is different. More than creating a static repository, we want to foster ongoing dialog and discussion (comments, syndication, tweets, likes, etc.). For me, a wordpress blog + plugins is the simplest MVP for achieving this.

3. Single voice
At least one person characterized “Running Lean” as “Lean Startup for Bootstrappers” which was a sub-segment of the larger audience and didn’t feel the content resonated with VC-backed companies.

First, I disagree with that characterization which is seconded by testimonials and speaking engagements/workshops at VC organized events. Bootstrapping to me has less to do with how much money you raise but when you raise it (right action, right time). “Get as far as you can get on your own” is a mantra preached by most investors.

But I do agree with the single voice characterization. I have strong opinions and can be prescriptive in my approach which is actually the topic of my next post: “How Cooking Made Me a Better Lean Startup Practitioner”. Even though Running Lean heavily draws from Lean Startup, it is NOT Lean Startup, and not my place or intent to define it.

Next Steps

All the issues outlined above stem from the mixed positioning of “Running Lean” and “Lean Startup” which in retrospect should have been cleared up before we pivoted from being an extension to the book to being a respository for Lean Startup practitioners. That said there is no such thing as a bad experiment and the learning in this case was fast and swift.

I setup a call with Eric Ries and we both agreed the original goals and intent were still sound so we’ve decided to create an independent, unbranded, not-for-profit, official “Lean Startup” community site that Eric will oversee. Ed Roman will lead the running of the community and I will be one among many contributors.

More details to follow… Comments appreciated.

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  • Raymond Gao

     Ash, I hope you will have time to take a look of my review for your Lean Startup Book. There are things I like you to consider, in the 2nd edition.

  • Ash Maurya

     Thanks for the review Ray – 

    One correction I’d make is that Sverre was the first major customer – not investor.

  • Hazel Perry

    Interesting here indeed! These valid points show your analytic research on
    the subject. Thanks much