The Lean Startup Problem
2 min read

The Lean Startup Problem

I suppose, the first thing that comes to your mind after you read this title, is that something is broken in the Lean Startup movement and I believe that despite all the hype, that is innevitably true.
If you've read for example Steve Blank's Startup Owner's Manual you would understand the deapth of this endeavor: Trying to adapt the Lean Thinking principles to the startup problem. It was definitelly a bold endeavor and more than just admirable, it gets results.

The Dangers of the Survey

In my opinion, the problem doesn't originate from the thinking but from the unreasonable use of the tools. Say for example that you are about to start pursuing your idea, or you feel that something is not quite right in the way you address your target market. How do you find what problems exist in the mind of your customers? One of the possible (and seemingly easy) things to do, that comes in your mind right away, is a survey. If you just read the startup owner’s manual or you've been coached by a Lean Startup advocate - as in my case by many - the answer is to make a Landing Page which in sense, is another way of doing a survey.

There is a saying, "Ask no questions, hear no lies" and it’s very much true in this case. The people are often not prepared to confront their real problems, act compulsively or just lack motivation and don't pay the necessery attention. Furthermore, ask the wrong questions, and you’ll get an extremely misleading answer. Use that answer to guide your venture, and you can waste years of your life, not to mention possibly going bankrupt.

But it’s not entirely up to you as well. As Henry Ford put it: "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses". You will waste valuable time from your product development, building fastest horses, when in fact you should be revolutionising the way we build cars. The only thing that could be possibly wrong with your dreams is that you don't believe enough in them.

The Lean Approach Is the Scientific Approach

Lean in essence is the scientific way of thinking, problem solving and taking the proper course of action. It can be applied everywhere with miraculous results. And when it’s applied to the startup problem it can help you surpass your set goals. But unfortunately, the advice to do a landing page in order to test you assumptions or pivot as necessary, is not the Lean approach but just an approach (out of many) wich makes it just very Bad Advice. It might have worked for somebody - fair enough - but the cornerstone of any startup advise based on past experience, is that different things work for different people, facing different problems and in different circumstances.

Trust Your Instincts

You are an entrepreneur, an iconoclast. You take risks. Stop thinking how to mitigate the risks and embrace them as the means to achieve your extraordinary goals. Your goals on growth. Before making another landing page, read first about Lean in order to understand the context of the Lean startup. I would propose reading The Toyota Way FieldBook, or visiting the Lean Enterprise Institute in order to find resources and get to know more about the lean philosophy before going straight to the Lean startup.