Transitioning to Lean is inherently hard because it requires a fundamental mind-shift in the way we build and question products. I’ve observed that the catalyst that triggers this shift, while part rational, is mostly experiential. This is one of the reasons you typically don’t find many first-time entrepreneurs rushing to embrace lean.
Lean is about eliminating waste but you can’t appreciate waste until you’ve been wasteful.
I’ve been building products for almost a decade and throughout that process I’ve been in search of a better, faster way for building successful products. I’ve tried everything from stealth to open source, from “less is more” to “more is more”. My own catalyst was triggered after I gained a different perspective on “free” time.
Most people under value their time (aka opportunity cost) but of all the resources, time is your most valuable asset. Everything else can fluctuate up or down but time moves only in one direction.
Another challenge when transitioning to lean is that it requires buy-in from the entire team and a commitment to behavior change. The good news is that the success metric is learning driven and even a small commitment to implementing the right tactics (like interviewing customers) can yield new insights which can be both encouraging and addicting. But all this is predicated on taking the first step.
With that, I’d like to share a case-study Eric Katerman, from Hurricane Party, delivered at the last Austin Lean Startup meetup.
Eric walked us through their latest product pivot (Forecast) and how they transitioned to lean which they did despite riding the high of being named one of the “hottest startups at SXSW 2011”.
This talk is chockfull of great lessons such as:
- Making sure you align your passions around your customers’ problems
- Using “scratch your own itch” as way to get started
- Resisting the urge to start with code
- Defining the minimum viable product
- Balancing customer feedback and metrics to guide product development