The 7 Myths of Lean and How Analytics Can Help


I recently did a presentation on the 7 myths of Lean Startup and how analytics can help. You’ll find it embedded below, since I’ve shared it on Slideshare.

It was a fun presentation, the first time I’ve given it (since I often redo my presentations each time!) and I got some great feedback. Briefly, here are the 7 myths:

  1. Lean = Cheap. Sure it’s cheaper to start companies but it still costs money to scale them. The lesson is simply this: know when to hack (do something quick, cut corners, cheaply) and know when to scale.
  2. Lean = Small. You need a big vision to win. I’ve said that before. And you use Lean Startup best practices and analytics to zig zag your way towards that vision.
  3. Lean = Crappy. An MVP is meant to be a minimalistic version of your product, but it also has to be viable. The key is that an MVP has to provide you with meaningful learning and insights, and it also has to provide the value you’ve promised customers. There’s no “shitty” in MVP and I use Sincerely, Inc. as a great example of building smart MVPs.
  4. Pivot is a bad word. I did an entire presentation just on pivots and brought some of that into this presentation. The key to a pivot is that it’s a shift in one aspect of your startup’s focus based on validated learning.
  5. Lean is only for consumer startups. Lean Startup has gained most of its adoption amongst consumer startups, but it applies across the board. I shared some quick examples from consumer products companies, a church, a restaurant and more. Many of these examples are in the book.
  6. Lean = Easy. We all know startups are hard. Lean Startup helps mitigate risk and clear the path a bit more, but it’s not easy. And that flows into the final myth…
  7. Lean = Auto win. Simply by following the Lean Startup steps (or Lean Analytics methodologies) doesn’t guarantee success. You can’t walk through the process and expect to win. It takes guts, luck, brains and much, more more.

I hope you find the presentation helpful. I also shared some thoughts about how I believe metrics can be the common language used by entrepreneurs and investors to bring them together more often than not and keep them on the same side of the table. It’s clear that entrepreneurs are concerned about reporting numbers to investors, and it’s clear investors want more numbers.

Metrics –used properly– can cut through a lot of bullshit on both sides, which I think is a good thing if everyone is willing to participate. If you have any questions about the presentation or what I rambled on about during my talk, please let me know!

  • Timothy Garton

    Awesome post! I especially like the Lean == Crappy point. Follow the link http://www.instigatorblog.com/no-shitty-in-mv/2012/01/05/. Because it hits on the main point about an MVP. An MVP is about proving your value proposition. Do you really have one? You won’t know until you test it in the market. Poor usability and user communication can obscure your value proposition, but the key is: do most reasonable users think your product or service did what they thought it would do when they tried it out? Figure out how to test your idea as efficiently as possible. Did your product fulfill the user’s expectations well enough a that they will want to use it again or better yet tell their friends? That is the hard hurdle and the thing in the beginning you have to iterate to.

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