The lean startup method

Wikipedia describes the lean startup as “a method for developing businesses and products [where startups] shorten their product development cycles by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and … validated learning”.

While the rise in the popularity of the lean startup method has increased startups’ execution speed and the rate at which they bring to market valuable new product features, it has also misguided many entrepreneurs who misunderstand the method. Specifically, many entrepreneurs use the lean startup method’s recommendation for shortened product development cycles as an excuse to test product features that don’t technically work.

There’s a difference between a product feature that doesn’t work from a technical perspective and one that doesn’t work because it isn’t adopted by users. The lean startup method advocates for fast discovery of the latter without explicitly passing judgment on the former. But it’s clear that you need to avoid the former in order to have a chance of testing the latter. You can’t test user reactions to an experiment that the user can’t properly experiment with.

So if you explain why certain product features don’t technically work by pointing to the lean startup method, you not only don’t understand the method, but also eliminate any chance of applying it.


Also published on Medium.