Will the Mvp crush the Lean Startup?

This seems an appropriate post this week since there was big hullabaloo about a certain App that claimed certain features and did not deliver. If they intended it to be a minimum viable product (Mvp), let’s just say there was more MINIMUM than viable in the product. Though it was discovered and bantered about the Lean community it raised a bigger issue for me. With all the talk of iterative use, fail often and early and MVP being battered about especially in the Lean Startup (term trademarked by Eric Ries) are we forgetting one of the foundational pillars of Lean. That pillar is Respect for People.

The reason I mention the Lean Startup is that I find few in that community firmly rooted in Lean Principles. They look at Lean as meaning a waste reduction process. That reduction meaning their time to market and their time spent on developing product. In fact, at a Lean Startup event in Grand Rapids, Michigan recently, l saw presenters advocating the use of fake web fronts and click buttons into blank spaces all to “test” customer’s responses.

When I think of the term Lean, three things come to my mind: Customer Value, PDCA(Kaizen) and Respect for People. I believe that these are key components of Lean and TPS. Without these the TPS house crumbles. Lean is about delivering Value in the eyes of the customer. Lean is about PDCA not just Do and Adapt. Lean is about Respect not Use.

I believe Eric Ries has made an outstanding contribution to Lean in general and to the field of innovation and startups. In fact, I am a big advocate of his methods. However, the big M (minimum) may cause his house to be short lived as demonstrated by one stray APP developer as he pleaded Kaizen, Iteration and Beta after accepting money and obviously delivering less than a viable product. I feel strongly about the Lean culture that has developed over the years and continues to grow and even take its own life forms such as Agile and the Lean Startup. But as most of us know, it is important to understand and respect our roots. It only makes us stronger in the long run.

To my knowledge this APP Developer has no affiliation with the Lean Startup. My reason for the connection is to demonstrate the bad side as visibly as possible.

Related Information:
Warning: You Can’t Even Draw a Map with this “Value Stream Mapper” App
The 7 step Lean Process of Marketing to Toyota
The New Names of Marketing are still PDCA
Dealing with uncertainty in the Lean Startup
Lean Thinking: Prototype early and often

9 thoughts on “Will the Mvp crush the Lean Startup?”

  1. This makes me think about a lot of work done in social media marketing – and how it’s important to not “game” influencers, but genuinely become involved with them. That idea seems to be in line with the “respect people” notion.

  2. I think you hit the nail on the head. Instead of defending yourself show some humility. Accept criticism and build from there. That is the real game changer in today’s world.

  3. I don’t think the Lean Startup movement ignores “respect for people” at all. The first time I saw Eric Ries present at MIT, the respect for people notion came through loud and clear:nn1) Don’t waste people’s time by having them work on a product that doesn’t solve a problem (or has not market)nn2) Follow the 5 Whys approach to root cause analysis instead of blaming and firing peoplennIf people are using unethical methods, I wouldn’t pin that on “lean startups.”

  4. I am not pinning it on the Lean Startups. but your ignoring the message I am trying to send. It’s not the message internally, It’s the respect for people and wasting people’s time externally. When people are promoting phantom clicks as they did at the Lean Startup event I attended in Michigan, I do not believe that is Respect for people. That is the message I am sending. nnI used the other example as a message of where it can go if people don’t consider Viable as a key term in MVP. I deliberately pointed out it that the other circumstance was not associated with the Lean Startup.nnI just strongly believe that the customer needs to be considered in MVP. And when they get out of the office as Eric promotes they do that. But when they build phantom click buttons to test they don’t. n

  5. Don’t blame the reader for misinterpreting your writing :-) u00a0Thanks for clarifying with the follow up.nnThe jerks who created the app you are referencing (and I blogged about) don’t understand “respect for people.” That much is clear.u00a0

  6. I know a tech company and am surprised how often “vapor wear” was being sold and then a scramble happens to build if a customer actualy bought it.

  7. I know a tech company and am surprised how often “vapor wear” was being sold and then a scramble happens to build if a customer actualy bought it.

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