Visit from Eric Ries

Last week, Eric Ries paid a visit to one of my classes at CBS via skype.  Rather than regurgitate Lean Startup methodology, I thought I’d share some of the other stuff he talked about. 

I asked Eric how founders know when to dig in their heels and ignore the customer feedback that The Lean Startup methodology mandates that they collect.  The underlying idea being that if all we do is ask customers for feedback, we’ll all just create cat videos and porn sites (or Henry Ford’s faster horses thing).  His take was that Lean doesn’t tell you if your idea sucks.  Rather, it tells you if your idea sucks much earlier in the process.  

Someone asked about Lean within larger organizations.  How can firms protect small scale projects/experiments from managers whose job it is to make you focus on doing your job (/killing your crazy ideas)?  His take on this, and the general theme of the class that he visited, is that the firm needs to set up separate teams that are allowed to try stuff out and mess up without having to answer to the finance team. Basically, managers need to understand that experiments and MVPs are supposed to be shitty and they’re not supposed to be able to scale yet.  Traditional accounting/performance management systems don’t work for Lean.  Makes sense on paper.  Harder to implement in the real world, but that’s how Eric pays the bills I guess.    

Finally, Eric’s wife had a child ~8 hours after our talk.  Congratulations!

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