Lean Startup – Starting up, Growing up and Starting over

In recent years the concepts described by Daniel T Jones and Jim Womack in Lean Thinking have been adapted and translated into a host of environments. The Lean Startup movement introduced a new wave of people to Lean whilst those implementing Lean in existing organisations are now facing new competitors in rapidly changing markets.

Lean Startup

At our 2014 UK Lean Summit we asked Jim Womack to reflect on what the Lean startup and the more traditional Lean communities could learn from each other. In Jim’s talk (which you can watch below) he reflects that Toyota wasn’t starting up as it developed its Toyota Production System – instead the leaps gained in the 1950s actually came as Toyota was starting over. That’s quite an insight and what a lot of us are doing when we implement Lean  thinking – our efforts have been focussed on changing what our organisations do – changing everything about product and process development, supplier management, customer support, order to delivery (fulfilment) and general management.

Whilst this allowed us to focus we must acknowledge that this is rework! So imagine if we addressed Lean in a startup – right from the start. This would entail a new stance toward customers, a product development process with Lean thinking from the outset and a fulfilment process that is right from the beginning. In addition we would need a different way to manage suppliers through collaborative value stream management.

As the first generation internet pioneers grew, their management systems look disappointingly traditional – full of deep functional chimneys. So we must look to the next generation of internet pioneers, like Spotify, to learn how to grow without catching big company diseases. At our 2015 summit we’ve asked Cliff Hazell from Spotify to share their experiences in building an organisation of teams focused on delivering products, working more effectively together and deepening technical capabilities. Several organisations in very different environments are getting great results from following this example. We hope you will be able to join us as we discuss what the startup and more traditional Lean communities can learn from each other.