Lean was revealed as “Lean Manufacturing” before spreading to virtually all business sectors and evolve to Lean Management.
Lean has long been seen as an approach (approach or philosophy) specific to existing businesses seeking to transform and adapt themselves to their new competitive environment. Yet if Lean was indeed born in an already established business in bad shape (Toyota), its principles, methods and tools are not limited to these kind of cases.
It is therefore likely that, although not yet much reported in the literature, cases of Lean applications can be found in the early foundation stages of new companies or during the takeover of firms.
It would be very surprising, considering the fame of Lean, that entrepreneurs would not have heard of, or would refrain to inspire themselves from Lean.
How can Lean help startups?
Let’s remind the Lean principles in the context of a startup:
- Define value (created) from the perspective of the customers, users or beneficiaries
- Create corresponding value stream
- Ensure smooth and fast flow of value to the customer
- Meet the expectations and demands (pull flow from customer)
- Strive for perfection
For this to be possible and viable, an entrepreneur must allocate the proper resources and refrain from the temptation to develop or deliver unnecessary features. This would most likely lead to resource consumption without creating value in return, what is usually considered waste in Lean lingo.
A start-up may seem Lean by definition:
- With limited resources available, entrepreneurs are assumed to be naturally inclined to be careful with resource management, reasonable and acquainted with the (Lean) concepts of waste
- Time-to-market (i.e. speed) is obviously a critical success factor, just as is the speed at which the financial flow from sales is returning, hence an assumed entrepreneur’s obsession with flow and speed
But this is not certain. Common sense is less common than one might think.
Moreover, all entrepreneurs have not necessarily been exposed to the benefits of Lean. Finally, even familiar with Lean, entrepreneurs do not necessarily think about its application in the context of a starting business or the creating of a spin-off.
That’s the reason for this series of posts: How Lean can help startups