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The Lean Startup – Interview with Eric Ries

Submitted by on May 28, 2009 – 4:14 pmNo Comment

I often say that on the social web there are no experts – only experiments.  The fastest learner wins.

We are living through a sea change in business – Think about media with music, newspapers and publishing – or manufacturing with Flip (nearly two guys in a garage – design, manufacture in China, market online – then hit the big box stores and finally sell to Cisco for 1/2 billion) Astro Gaming (similar story without the buyout yet), and the new crowdsourced Crunchpad– think about the ubiquity of mobile devices and their rapid evolution or the rise of Twitter and the first chink in Google’s armor etc.

In these conditions the only lasting advantage a company has lies in its ability to adapt rapidly.

Which brings me to Eric Ries.  I have had the privilege to do some work recently with Eric, author of the Lessons Learned blog — Eric’s basic premise is that a startup needs to maximize its resources and have a relentless focus on creating tight, iterative decision loops.  A lean startup is defined by

  1. Leveraging already-existing software and services whenever possible (off the shelf, open source etc.)
  2. Using Agile development to quickly prototype, test and deploy functional code
  3. Aggressively testing reality every chance they get with REAL customers (aka customer development)

Startups obviously need to run lean – they have modest resources and no real idea if the products they are putting out will meet actual customer demand.

But these conditions (uncertainty and rapid change) and these practices (customer development, agile and rapid prototyping) are not only advantages for startups – As Eric points out, they can be defensive tools for an Enterprise.    This is an interview I ran with Eric on behalf of O’Reilly Media.  It originally appeared a few days ago in a post by Tim O’Reilly welcoming Eric to the Radar community.

Eric will be running Lean Startup Master Classes over the coming months — whether you are a startup or not – this is a game changing approach to product development.

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