Lean Innovation

The Lean Startup Method

The Lean Startup has its roots in the lean manufacturing movement, pioneered by Toyota. In lean manufacturing, quality is baked into the product by operating with small batch sizes. If a quality issue arises, fewer products are wasted to scrap or rework. Changes can be implemented quickly to improve the products as a quality issue is resolved. In essence, learning and continuous improvement are the real products of lean manufacturing.


At the heart of the lean startup method is the “Build-Measure-Learn” feedback loop. Early, frequent, and small product concept and feature tests validate the vision for the new product. But, to grow a business, entrepreneurs must test a bevy of assumptions. These assumptions cover how we perceive customers will access and purchase the product, how they will use the product, and how they expect next generation products to be designed and integrated into their ecosystem.


Business growth is imperative whether you are a startup, entrepreneur, or an established firm. Clayton Christensen’s seminal book on disruptive innovation, The Innovator’s Dilemma, demonstrates that incremental (or sustaining) innovations provide profit for a limited time period. New technologies, new markets, and new business models are constantly being created that will disrupt existing markets. Lean thinking demands that growth actions do not stall with sustaining innovations.

Lessons from Lean Startup

By definition, innovators must be flexible and adaptive to new information and new situations. Too often entrepreneurs and new product development practitioners are blinded by their faith and optimism in an idea. They create a marketing and production plan but are disappointed (emotionally and financially) when things don’t work out how they had hoped.

Reading Recommendation

Some important references for lean innovation include two books by Eric Ries: The Lean Startup and The Startup Way. Also, every innovator, entrepreneur, and new product developer should own and read a copy of Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma and the follow-up text, The Innovator’s Solution. I also like Being Agile by Ekas and Will, a book that gives tips to truly move from waterfall to agile methodologies in product development.



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Teresa Kowal

Teresa Kowal


I tackle life with an infusion of rigor, zeal, and faith. My passion is innovation and helping others improve their new product development ecosystems.