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Lean startup

Lean startup is another approach for initiating a product journey. It differs from design thinking in a critical way.

Lean startup is another approach for initiating a product journey. It critically differs from design thinking.

With design thinking, you start by learning about your customers and identifying their needs. With a lean startup, you begin with an idea for a product and then determine if there are customers for that idea.

The lean startup approach evolved as a way to shorten the product development lifecycle and get products to market more quickly and cheaply.

Key concepts

Let’s take a look at some of the key concepts associated with the lean startup methodology.

Minimum viable product (MVP)

A key concept in the lean startup methodology is that of the minimum viable product (MVP), which is essentially a simplified version of your product that you release to potential customers as a means of collecting data to support or refute a hypothesis.

For instance, you may want to know whether anyone would use the product you are proposing to offer. So, you would create an MVP version of that product and then offer it to potential customers to gauge their response.

Here is an example: The shoe company Zappos started by creating an MVP to see if customers would buy shoes online. They set up the skeleton of a website and posted photos from a ‘real’ shoe store across the street. When customers attempted to order shoes from their site, the hypothesis that people would indeed buy shoes online was confirmed and Zappos continued developing their online shoe store.


Another key concept in the lean startup methodology is the pivot. When you find that your hypothesis is not true, you must change directions quickly.
Here is an example: PayPal initially provided a service for transferring money between Palm Pilots (remember those?). However, they found that while people liked their website, they didn’t use the Palm Pilot app very much. So PayPal pivoted to focusing primarily on transferring money via the web.

What are your thoughts?

What are the main differentiators between design thinking and lean startup?
Use the Comments section below and let us know your thoughts. Try to respond to at least one other post.

Let’s head on over to the next step, and discuss design thinking and lean startup in more detail.

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