When Lean Goes Wrong
While I’ve always thought there are some great principles in the Lean Startup book and movement, I have never been convinced it’s the way to start and run a business. A single product, maybe, but even then that product will likely fail without the larger vision to support it.
This small business owner identifies three problems he came up with during his own journey: (1) confusing lean with cheap, (2) letting analysis cause paralysis, and (3) failing to think long term. I would add one more for those who are thinking of going lean as a way to get started.
(4) Don’t discredit the importance of expertise. I see this a lot in my fields of education and recruitment, two soft fields where everyone thinks you can be an expert. If you had a terrible experience as a job applicant, it does not mean you are qualified to build the next recruitment platform. Do the research on organizational science, employee success, and the rest, and talk to recruiters and get one on your team… Or even better, build something you already have real expertise in.
This story about two marketers who had never worked in recruitment but sought out to build a recruitment solution exemplifies that hubris that is often celebrated. This is not “2 legitimate pivots” but wasted time and energy.
I am an alumna of Startup Weekend. There are a lot of good things about that experience, but the idea of calling people on Saturday and Sunday to do market research and get a customer to “validate” under the Lean methodology is also problematic. Not only do you get false data, it can potentially damage relationships (did for me).