Leaning on « lean » is cool and mean…

…or that’s how it seems anyway.

At ESIEE Paris, my colleague (now semi-retired) Michel Dalipagic has always been a real evangelist of « lean ». Michel had worked in the automobile sector, where lean manufacturing was really taken on board. Then in 2010, Bruno Bougerolles, a mature ITMP student, decided (in his ITMP thesis) to compare and contrast « lean » and project management as ways of working.  His was a more critical view. Recently we’ve put up links to Ibrahim Mamane’s posts on lean management.

Today when I had a working tea with Stéphanie Fen Chong, who came to ITMP in 2002, a new angle appeared. Stéphanie came to ITMP with a political science degree and has been running an incubator in Rennes (Britanny) for the last three years, after a PhD at the Ecole des Mines.  She was in Paris for a Lean Start Up weekend workshop which she talked about.

3 june_fenchongand krys

Where was it? At The Family, which is a startup friendly environment in central Paris (offering space) with catchy slogans on its intriguing website.

Who ran it? The Lean Startup Machine, which is on a world tour. Next weekend their roadshow hits Singapore, then Hong Kong, Rio, Milan and Moscow.

Who came? About 40 people.

What’s it based on? Eric Ries’ ideas (and book).

What are some of the ideas behind LSU? When you explore a new business idea, the more mistakes you make the earlier, the better and the cheaper. So how do you make mistakes? You state a hypothesis (e.g. « I think there’s a business for a antiprogramme killer ap »), you embelish it and wrap it up into a testable format. As soon as you have a working version you run to the market to test your hypothesis to get reactions. The street is always a good place to start – « excuse me but I have this idea and I’d like to know what you think… »).  But anything or anywhere that will get you relevant people’s reactions is valuable.  One team, with an idea of a totally original rental service, posted an announcement on e-bay for selling the item they wanted to rent. Within minutes people were wanting to buy it. The team then called them up and said « Sorry, it’s already been bought, but would you be interested in RENTING one? »  That gave them valuable information.

According to Stéphanie, LSU says that entrepreneurship is a science. A hypothetico-deductive science. You form a hypothesis and then test it. Your test results give you the information to PIVOT – you redefine either the problem or the segment. And you do this as soon and as often as possible.  Like agile project management it’s about iterations: making mock ups of your business idea, taking them to the users, redesigning them, taking them back to the users, and so on, until you get it right. (It’s how suits are made in Saville Row and how gondolas were made in Venice « in the old days »)

It’s a « build-measure-learn cycle » said Stéphanie and you « objectify your discourse », which means you qualify it with factual evidence gathered from your ethnographic micro surveys. « LSU is close to Customer Development and Design Thinking », she added « and the methods and templates are really user friendly, robust and viable ».

She sketched out two quite different business ideas that were turned into a minimum viable product – her team’s and the team’s that « won ».  They seemed plausible and the experimentations had allowed her team to identify some key anti antiprogramme actors, but I’d better not divulge anything in case the workshop participants want to take things further ^^…

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A propos markowskikrys

I run an advanced Masters programme on project management and innovation at ESIEE
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