Category Archives: Lean Startup

Where is the “Customer Development” aspect of the Lean Startup for Change approach?

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

I recently wrote about finding the Minimum Viable Change and have been thinking about it some more, especially while working on my presentation for upcoming Scrum Gathering Atlanta and Lean Systems and Software Conference in Boston.

While trying to think what I’m going to say about Minimum Viable Change (MVC) I began to think about how to map the MVC to Minimum Viable Product, finding Product Market Fit and the Customer Development Process.

In my mind so far, as well as in how I understand the work of Jeff Anderson and his team on this subject, the MVC is aimed at learning what approach works best in your context and doing experiments to adapt the approach. This is similar to using MVP to find Product Market Fit with your core Product capabilities as the base you pivot around. For MVC the core capability you pivot around seems to be the Hypothesis that the direction/vision you have for the organization is indeed a good fit for what the organization needs.

As I understand it, Customer Development in the Product context is about finding a customer segment for which your MVP is a good fit. In the Change context Customer Development can be about finding the customer segment for which your MVC is a good fit, but this is more similar to classic Lean Startup. When we are talking MVC we are talking about searching for the right kinds of change WITHIN a change initiative you are already running. So what is the Customer Development process? Is it searching for groups within the organization for which the MVC is good enough so they can use it to change and you can learn about the change approach together with them? Is it something that tries to verify that indeed the organization WILL benefit from this change program, rather than taking it for granted?

There is lots of value in seeking the right change approach using tactical MVCs. I think there might be at least as much value if not more in seeking fast learning on whether the change is the right one using strategic MVCs.

Come to think of it, in one of my current clients we’re using two strategic MVCs:

  • Hunch1:  Small Batches are a good idea to deal with planning waste and effectiveness as well as bang for the buck product value for investment. We are testing that hunch using an experiment involving work on Product Backlogs / MMFs / Stories in 2 product streams.
  • Hunch2: Cross-Functional work is a good idea to deal with synchronization overheads and waste involving half-developed features sitting on the shelf. We are testing that hunch using an experiment involving what we call “Discovery Kanban”. This is minimum because it is not a real Feature Team. But it provides enough learning to validate the value of Cross-Functional work. It doesn’t validate any hunches about Self-Organized teams though…
(Note we are not yet using Lean Startup disciplined Change Measure Learn loops, at least not explicitly. I look forward to doing something similar to what Jeff and his team are talking about…)

Any feedback welcome, and if you want to discuss in person, find me in Atlanta or Boston during the conferences, or check out a Kanban/Scrumban training we are opening in Atlanta just after the Scrum Gathering.

Kanban Method – Finding the Minimally Viable Change

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

A perfect storm is brewing:

  • Jeff Anderson has been talking about the connection between Kanban and LeanStartup
  • A discussion about Kanban Training Materials with Mike Burrows has nudged me to give more emphasis to the foundational principles and core practices.
  • I’ve been pitching a lot of Lean Startup stuff myself to Product Owners and clients in general
  • I’ve been thinking about how to use Lean Startup Change Measure Learn cycles in our approach to change at AgileSparks (and started to do small experiments at my own clients)
  • I’m working on my Lean Systems and Software Conference 2012 talk/paper about Continuous Stagnation (Which will also be featured in similar form at Scrum Gathering Atlanta btw…)

The culmination of all this is that I created a Story Map to reflect the Kanban Method approach to evolutionary change. This maps the foundational principles and core practice areas to actual core and optional practices and can help me explain Kanban in our 2-day Accredited Kanban Training (next date is 20-21 march in Israel btw) . I’m also thinking of creating exercises using this map to explain story mapping itself as well as the concept of “Minimally Viable Change/Product”.


If you’re interested to check out how I use this in the context of my training – see an excerpt from the materials:

Sorry but no elaborate description this time. Consider this a Minimally Viable Blog Post. If there’s interest I will write more about this…
And it seems like Jeff, Jabe myself and probably Mike and others will share experiences at LSSC12. See you there!
PS: Reminding everyone that my Brickell Key Award Nominee “refbrick200” discount code is available for 5 more days (until 14/March)…
Oh, and if you want to create such a story map for yourself, here is a CSV file with the cards. You can import it into LeanKitKanban easily and probably use it elsewhere as well. I would love to see what others do with this…