What is Lean about the Lean Startup?

Source | www.startuplessonslearned.com

The first step in a lean transformation is learning to tell the difference between value-added activities and waste. That foundational idea, so clearly articulated in books like Lean Thinking, is what originally led me to start using the term lean startup. I admit that I haven’t always done such a good job emphasizing this connection; after all, there’s an awful lot to the lean startup theory, and I’m always struggling with how best to explain it fully. Luckily, I’ve had some excellent backup.

The following is a guest post for Startup Lessons Learned by the legendary Kent Beck. One of the most amazing things about the past year has been the opportunity to meet many legends and personal heroes. And yet, I have a confession to make. Many of these heroes have proved disappointing: some have been defensive, stand-offish, and downright mean. Not so with Kent Beck. 

Longtime readers will recall how I first met him. I was giving my first-ever webcast on the lean startup. For those who’ve heard it, it contains a length discourse on the subject of agile software development and extreme programming, including its weaknesses when applied to startups. Now, this webcast was packed, hundreds of people were logged in. The chat stream was flying by in my peripheral vision, a constant distraction, hard to focus on. As I’m pontificating about agile, I see the name Kent Beck in my peripheral vision. I was truly terrified, and I almost completely lost my train of thought. Was that really the Kent Beck? I assumed he was there to refute my critique of extreme programming, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, of all the gurus and leaders I’ve had the chance to meet, he has been by far the most open-minded. He instantly understood what I was saying, and since that first encounter, our exchanges have made me a lot smarter.

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