The Lean Gates of Analytics

You don’t know what book you’re writing until you’ve written it.

As most authors will tell you, the act of writing a book—particularly on a fast-changing, widely-discussed topic—is both a creative and a destructive one. You don’t know how little you know until you start to structure your thoughts.

As Ben and I have been working on the book (now topping out at over 200 pages on our various hard drives) we’ve come up with some basic stages and gates that most startups go through from initial idea to successful exit. These map—loosely—to established frameworks like those from Eric Ries, Steve Blank, Ash Maurya and Dave McClure. We’re not sure if we have it right, yet, but this is our current working model.

We’d love some feedback on whether this is right or wrong. Obviously, some startups will enter the Lean process at different stages, or clear certain gates before others; but as a general model, this is what we’re thinking.

Now that we’ve built it, it’s time to measure and learn: what’s wrong with it?

  • Eytan Levit

    guys, this map is just amazing. I’m going to print it and post it of my wall. I would call it “The entrepreneur’s guide to Mordor(but in a good way)”.

    some feedback:1. What about business model canvas’s terms, in each stage your are also validating a different part of your business model, e.g(in the order of the map) – 1.customer. 2.value proposition+cost structure 3. channels + customer relationships + key partnerships 4. revenue streams+cost structure 5. key activities + key resources.
    2. It was a bit confusing and took me time to understand the relationship between mcclure and lean terms.
    3. What about other engines of growth besides viral? the map currently assumes that viral is my desired engine of growth.

    4. Regarding the ordering of the stages, I think currently the map works for products that are free, but for products that plan to charge money without any free trial(e.g iPhone apps that cost money) – it doesn’t as the monetization stage comes even before viral engine happens, unless you assume that all startups should start with reaching viral growth on by giving away their product for free and charge only after it’s gone viral – which is a big assumption to make.

    5. Maybe the map has different flavors according to different business types? free trial, freemium, advertising based mobile app, paid mobile app, free to play app and more.

    That’s it for now

  • Michael R. Bernstein

    Some feedback:

    ‘Customer Development’ really refers to the whole process up to the point where you have achieved product-market fit. Instead, you probably want to replace that box with ‘Problem Validation’.

    Following problem validation, you may want to insert a ‘Solution Validation’ box. Solution validation overlaps somewhat with MVP building, depending on what you consider an MVP. You can validate a solution with nothing more than a landing page, but not everyone considers that to be an MVP.

    The ‘Attention’ box in the McClure column is actually ‘Acquisition’.

    The Ash/Lean column implies that startups invariably switch from one engine of growth to another. While they may do so, changing your engine of growth is actually a change to your business model that is significant enough to be considered a pivot, and while nearly all startups pivot, not all pivot around their chosen engine of growth.

    Regardless of the engine, the middle of the startup lifecycle is focussed on achieving compounding growth. For example, you get compounding growth from the paid engine if your LTV is significantly more than 1x of your CAC.

    In order to express this clearly, you may need a separate chart for each engine of growth, since the only other way to express this is to add a 3rd dimension.

    Finally, it isn’t clear what you are mapping the key metrics to. Do they map to areas of focus, or to the gates?

  • Justin Souter

    Some great comments by Eytan & Michael – around engines of growth, metrics mapping, and business model generation, in particular. I love Eytan’s mapping of the BM canvas to your stages, and I love the simple language you’ve used for the gates. Most business folk need something straightforward to relate to.

    Also, how about having some iteration – Steve Blank rightly suggests you’re going to go around the loop a couple of times before you get it right. I.e. it’s not going to be an automatic leap from top to bottom…?

    This is the first time I’ve seen the different elements integrated in this way – and in retrospect it seems obvious: however, I think that’s the power of the diagram to make it seem coherent when before #leanstartup #bmgen #custdev & #aarrr were a bit of a mish-mash!

    I’ve paused the Lean Analytics webinar to investigate this more fully – so thanks very much for the post. I think the colour scheme is a big plus, and I really think you’re on to something here – great MVP and keep iterating! 😉

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