Lean Startup is in the corporations. Established companies of this world arrived. This is not (just) about bullshit bingo and fake zeitgeist, but at least on an operational level about the hope of countering the often deadlocked structures and processes with an approach that has a very high learning speed and a focus on implementation. I have Lean Startup in the company with legally non-independent products in its most extreme form integrated into the company. Of course, this does not necessarily have to be the case, but it is likely to bring the special features of the use of Lean Startup in the company most clearly to light.
1. Entrepreneurs are everywhere
If you are working in a company, you have to pay special attention to the Everywhere-Entrepreneur-Principle, because you are surrounded by managers instead of entrepreneurs. Managers are not hired for their entrepreneurial spirit, but to manage a company and thus work for and not as entrepreneurs. The self-image of many managers, however, often looks different. And if then also someone with Lean Startup not only the classical management wisdom in question, but also still freedoms of an entrepreneur demands, then problems are pre-programmed. If you want to run a lean startup in your company, you have to be willing and able to sacrifice your own ideas to the "entrepreneurial spirit" of the management. If everyone feels like an entrepreneur at the end, then the chances are high that the project will also be run with the necessary dedication from all sides. In return, you get good, tried-and-tested management advice virtually for free. Others either have to pay consultants for it or sell their company to VC investors.
2. Entrepreneurship is Management
In relation to the principle of management, one has to weigh the risk factor in particular differently when using it in the company. Because in the worst case, the risk falls back on the core business. If one is acting conceptually as a lean startup, but legally on behalf of an established brand, then one should z.B. Be much more careful with legal gray areas. For this disadvantage you buy advantages in the form of synergy on the other side, if you have to pay z.B. Can use established, reliable processes both to the customer and in the back office. The key at this point is to find the right mix between bravado and a no-fail mentality. That is then a genuine management task, because neither the crew may be afraid to try out ideas, nor may be acted carelessly in the wrong places. Lean Startup in the company is at this point on tightrope act.
3. Validated learning
If you want to do Lean Startup in your company, the management of the company must be willing to accept new knowledge. Especially when this new truth hurts. It has to be said quite clearly that only very few really succeed in doing so. After all, we are working with experienced managers who know exactly how the business has to be run. Unexpected or inconvenient test results are then questioned or, in the worst case, simply brushed aside with the management card. In my opinion, this is the most critical point for Lean Startup in the company. At the same time, the biggest learning area for established managers.
On the other hand, it must be acknowledged that just because you have generated validated learning according to Lean Startup does not mean you have brought the truth to light. Especially when really fundamental hypotheses of the business model are being tested, it is better to plan one test case too many than too few when in doubt. Some questions are very difficult to answer with a test, setting up a really neutral test system is more than just challenging. In the end, the "sweet spot" between startup science, management wisdom and entrepreneurial belly is in demand.
4. Innovation Accounting
In my experience, established companies have a very hard time with innovation accounting, because neither the actionable metrics nor the associated MVP really fit into the classic worldview. If you run a lean startup in your company, then to a certain degree you are obliged to provide classic key figures, forecasts and plans. Although this is not always possible in a sensible way, one should not just curse this. Early exposure to classical controlling can definitely help to do some necessary, albeit annoying, homework that many tend to forget about. Cost transparency z.B. Always helps, really always.
And classic companies can learn an insane amount if they understand what an MVP is. Because this is not the excuse for half-finished products. It's the product that just answers the question that needs to be answered. How much less money, resources, love and employees would have had to be sacrificed up to now, if one had understood earlier that with an MVP test results can be achieved with little development effort and at the same time with split tests without great risk on the market?
Build-Measure-Learn as a principle becomes special within a company when a really high development speed arises, which is clearly above that of the original organization. The short half-life of knowledge in a Lean Startup can quickly lead to an imbalance in the respective perceived decision-making situation. If the top management deals with the project, let's say, quarterly, then this can be a perceived eternity for the Lean Startup itself. Here there is a danger that the parties involved simply talk past each other. As a Lean Startup you do well to pick up as vague decisions / statements as possible, so that your own room for maneuver remains big enough and you don't have to call for the steering committee all the time. Management, in turn, would do well to act more from a coaching role than as strategic helmsmen.
Lean Startup's Build-Measure-Learn is countered by Plan-Do-Check-Act in classic management. Since both cycles are sufficiently generic, there is certainly much to discuss about the specific differences or similarities. Build-Measure-Learn, however, must be understood less as a process blueprint and much more as a KANBAN approach. Ultimately, the goal is to minimize cycle time and create as little waste as possible. The specific process must be seen as a variable that is part of the continuous improvement or. Alignment with the goal of the Lean Startup is: generate knowledge. There is a whole range of opportunities for companies. Lean Startup to learn from each other. To do this, it is necessary to walk between the worlds, which requires tolerance and a willingness to learn on both sides. The danger here is, of course, that with all the back and forth, neither one side nor the other is adequately operated and in the end nothing is achieved. But if there is a real willingness to establish the approach in the company, in addition to speed, you get the gift of an agile nucleus. And if this nucleus opens up to the organization, then it can trigger a sustainable transformation and still learn at the same time.