You get 80% of the results from 20% of the inputs. Well, 80% of the results from using Lean Startup come from running experiments, in my opinion. Meticulously.
First, focus around the product; prove your value hypotheses.
Then, focus on growth; prove your growth hypotheses.
If you aren’t running experiments, you’re not learning. You’re doing what Ashley Aitken from Australia calls “Faux Lean Startup”. For example, think back to how tech startups launched in the dotcom days.
Old Traditional Way
Faux Lean Startup
Waterfall Project Management
Alpha -> Beta -> v1.0
Alpha -> MVP -> v1.0
Private Beta testing
Get market feedback
Get market feedback
Faux Lean Startup means you replaced some of the dotcom era tools with “lean approved” tools. If so, you’re missing the point of lean startup. Lean Startup isn’t only about customer development, personas, and interviewing customers. UXers have been doing that for decades before Lean Startup existed.
Your riskiest assumptions are probably related to your prospects and customers. Establish empathy quickly with your target prospect, figure out what's valuable, and get your innovation into the market.
In my mind, the classic example of this is using “MVP” as a synonym for beta product. Beta software means that you still expect to have missed some bugs in the software. Your unknowns are technical. An MVP is completely different animal than a beta product. It’s created to test initially one business assumption. With MVPs, you test unknowns on the business side—not technical ones.
It’s easy to fall back into the old pattern of avoiding what you don’t want to hear. It’s only human. You need to be deliberate about learning, in order to really get valuable feedback. A true lean startup implementation requires you to be running a long series of experiments (at least 1 per week). Minimize your own biases. Maximize learning when you know the least. See things how they are, based on data you gather from the market.