Build-Measure-Learn…and quite possibly Pivot?

We have been captivated lately by The Lean Startup movement and the mainstream traction it is gaining, particularly in organizations you would not consider to be a startup, such as General Electric. It doesn’t take long, however, to appreciate that these well established corporations experience many of the same pressures and challenges startups do when bringing new services and offerings to market. Understanding early whether an envisioned product or service will truly satisfy a market need is paramount to success, however success may be defined at that time for that organization.

It’s still very early days for us. We are absorbing as much knowledge as we can about The Lean Startup, voraciously reading as much as we can…and looking forward to The Lean Startup Conference in two weeks! We have taken a crack, however, at how we might bring some of the concepts and principles of The Lean Startup into our own business that I would like to share with you (and get feedback on).

First, some background, We are a services company that develops custom mobile Apps for businesses and government organizations. We follow an agile software development approach, Scrum, infused with lean user-experience (Lean UX) best practices and techniques. Certified Scrum Masters and UX professionals facilitate smooth execution of those agile and lean processes.

Most of our customers have a fairly good of idea of the mobile App(s) they would like built when they engage us but occasionally we find some asking for help with that part. They want to become mobile, recognize they can better service and enable their mobile workforce, customer base, etc. but don’t know where to start. We’ll help determine what mobile App(s) to develop (what components of their current application portfolio make sense to mobilize), for what audiences, for what mobile platforms at what cost over what time frame.

We follow somewhat of a conventional strategy development approach to accomplish this. We assess the drivers for change within the business and the current industry trends and best practices. We then understand the challenges and constraints they are facing internally and identify opportunities to rise up and meet those challenges and business drivers in line with industry trends and best practices. Those opportunities are crystallized into mobile related goals with an exploration of the assumptions and hypothesis surrounding those. A roadmap to test those assumptions and validate those hypothesis is developed culminating in an overarching vision to anchor execution against. The measures that we will use to test and prove those assumptions and hypothesis are identified along with the financial, people and time commitment required of the business to execute upon this roadmap.

It is in the all important execution phase that we believe we can really enhance our service delivery and value proposition by adopting concepts, principles and practices from The Lean Startup. The diagram below illustrates how we intend to bring such concepts as the Build-Measure-Learn loop and Pivot to our current service delivery approach.

Build-Measure-Learn and Pivot

We expect Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to be the biggest change to our service delivery approach. We can foresee breaking work down even further to what we do now, so that we are releasing (user testing) more MVPs from our sprints versus fully developed working components. We will learn from those MVPs whether we are on the right track with the mobile App or if we need to go back and ideate further. Possibly, we may need to go all the way back (pivot) and revisit our mobile App strategy altogether with our now improved understanding of the current situation and environment.

As mentioned, early days for us. We anxiously look forward to experimenting with The Lean Startup and seeing what we learn! Any comments, critique, advice and learnings you’re willing to share are very much welcomed.

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