Lean and agile are two different fields, and yet there is a big overlap in their application and the people that use them. And while the lean startup methodology is based on the former, it also has a lot in common with the latter, and it’s important for a good leader to know what place agile principles have in lean startups.
Up and Running as Quickly as Possible
One of the core principles of lean startup is that you should have a minimal viable product as soon as possible. This is in line with general lean trends, and it’s a process that can be accelerated very well by designing a release plan from the very beginning. And that falls into agile territory and it’s something that can be handled well by someone with sufficient experience with agile.
It’s also important to start your whole run with an appropriate vision, ensuring that the product you’ll be working on will have a place in your target market at all. Agile experts can tell you a lot about product vision, as that’s something that gets a lot of focus during a typical agile run.
Building on Feedback
Another important aspect of lean startup is that you should always coordinate your efforts with what the customer actually wants. This may or may not be perfectly aligned with your own vision and expectations, which is why it’s important to spend a lot of time studying the actual requirements of your clients, and ensuring that everything you’ve learned is appropriately validated.
Both lean startup and agile have their own versions of this, and the overlap is significant. In both cases, the basic principle is the same – you use customer feedback as the driving force behind any changes or further developments of the product. Collecting that feedback properly is also important, and you’ll need to take some time to ensure that you have the appropriate systems in place before you start distributing your product to the market.
Always Strive for a Quick Release
When running a lean startup, ensuring that you deliver something to the market as early as possible is critical, and this is where the concept of continuous deployment comes in play. However, you must also gather some experience from those releases and ensure that it’s integrated back into the next release cycle, and this where agile can help you. Continuous integration is an important concept in that field, and you’ll learn a lot about how to align your future developments with past experiences and draw from what you’ve achieved so far.
That’s the main point – releasing over and over again in quick iterations until the product is perfectly aligned with customer needs and expectations. With enough experience, you will be able to shorten this process and ensure that you can reach that ideal point with far fewer repetitions of the release process. But until you get there, you’ll want to spend a lot of time and attention on applying agile principles to your lean startup, and taking as many useful parts of agile as you can.
Last but not least, both sides of the coin put a strong emphasis on testing and validation, and for a good reason. This is the only way to ensure that you are working in the right direction, and that the changes you make to the product are bringing it closer to perfection instead of introducing even more problems in the long run. Agile in particular can teach you a lot about sensible testing procedures, so spend some time familiarizing yourself with this aspect of the field.
Lean startup and agile are connected very closely, and you may have even been applying agile principles to your own work without realizing it for some time, if you work closely with lean methodologies on a regular basis. Recognizing the ways these two areas are connected and taking the most useful bits from both can be very useful for the leader of an organization of any size, and you should split your attention between them as equally as you can.