Lean Startup Meets Harvard Business Review

  • April 22, 2013
  • Scott

I’d have been more surprised if this happened a few years ago, but Lean Startup thinking has become so prevalent that even the conservative Harvard Business Review had to notice and address the topic eventually.

Even better, they reached out to the “father” of this movement himself – Steve Blank.  Like all methodologies, Lean Startup borrows heavily from other great ideas and business minds, and attempts to synthesize a collection of these ideas into a robust framework for managing startups and discovering the scalable business that is often so elusive.

So Steve has written an article for the Harvard Business Review.

For decades this revered business magazine described management techniques that were developed in and were for large corporations –  offering more efficient and creative ways to execute existing business models. As much as I loved the magazine, there was little in it for startups (or new divisions in established companies) searching for a business model. (The articles about innovation and entrepreneurship, while insightful felt like they were variants of the existing processes and techniques developed for running existing businesses.) There was nothing suggesting that startups and new ventures needed their own tools and techniques, different from those written about in HBR or taught in business schools.

Two other thoughts he wrote that I’ll leave you with:

I’m  proud to be called the “father” of the Lean Startup Movement. But I hope at least two—if not fifty—other catalysts of the movement are every bit as proud today. Eric Ries, who took my first Customer Development class at Berkeley, had the insight that Customer Development should be paired with Agile Development. He called the combination “The Lean Startup” and wrote a great book with that name.

There are a lot of advocates of this approach.  I’ve been arguing since I learned about the elements of the Lean Startup that BPM practitioners could learn a lot from these methods, because we often begin with hypothesized problems and solutions, and then try to test these hypotheses to improve our processes (and implement the solutions as well).  This is not unlike the process of finding product-market fit, though admittedly it is less risky than running a startup!


For the next month, The Harvard Business Review is providing free access to the cover story article, “Why the Lean Startup Changes Everything“.  Go read it.

Definitely read it.

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