How Lean Can Strengthen Your Organization’s Strategy

Adopting a lean strategy can seem intimidating, but you can easily create a successful company using lean methodology. Initially developed by Eric Ries, the three-step lean method for startups uses iterative product testing plus integrates early adopter feedback to choose product features and functions with the goal of reaching a larger market. Using lean tools can help eliminate constraints, roadblocks, and waste that may impede progress.

Lean Methods

This deliberate strategy of development uses the build-measure-learn approach, which stems from lean manufacturing principles most notably used by Toyota and taught by the Lean Enterprise Institute. The lean method provides greater value to customers without increasing resources and can reduce waste.

The method begins by building a minimum viable product (MVP) to offer to early adopters. Their feedback provides your startup with the information needed to reach a wider target audience. Dropbox landed its first 5,000 subscribers using just a 90-second video describing its services. The measurement phase gauges interest, favorite features, needed features and features needing improvement. The learning feature provides you with information about the decision to pivot or persevere with your MVP.

While using lean typically increases revenue, it also benefits the organization in other ways. Your firm can improve efficiency, including speed of service, as well as quality over the long term. You apply multiple iterations to make the product as efficient and high-earning as possible.

Total Business Improvements

Using the lean approach doesn’t just improve the product (although it does create a defect-free product of the best quality). It also improves the organization as a whole. Typically, an organization applying lean methods exhibits improved productivity, flexibility, and customer responsiveness. The process removes non-value-added tasks, delays, and interruptions, so you can run a friction-free company, creating defect-free products. When the processes are running smoothly throughout the lifecycle of production, the business will deliver high-quality products to customers on time.

Like Toyota did, you might find that your business needs to use a pull-based workflow rather than a push-based workflow. This work-in-progress approach helps businesses of all sizes, from startups to major corporations, such as Toyota.

Recognizing that entrepreneurship without strategy results in chaos, leveraging a lean strategy can systematically build a business in the most efficient manner from the ground up. The lean strategy process combines a framework that provides for both planning and experimenting while creating more effective A/B testing that considers goals and potential outcomes.

Applying the Lean Process

Applying lean strategy processes helps you know what not to do and try the things that could offer the best results. Recognizing the interdependence of decisions lets your business make better-informed decisions. How does this work in practice?

Examples of Successful Application

Take the app Burbn, for example. Have you heard of Burbn? Probably not. That’s because when the startup tested its MVP that let friends conduct location check-ins, plan outings together, and post pictures of their activities, the only part that resounded with potential users was posting pictures. Pivoting, the makers of Burbn altered their app and its name in just eight weeks. You’ve probably used their product, “Instagram,” at least once.

How about an existing company that used lean methods to improve? Southwest Airlines applied lean to its meals policy when first developing its airline. It chose not to offer meals on its flights since this would raise ticket costs. When it later re-considered its boarding process, the airline also applied lean to developing its Business Select program, which let customers spend a little more to board early and receive a drink included in the fee. The airline accepted and implemented the idea when it determined it would not negate fast gate turns. Southwest Airlines recognized it had built success by offering quick flights from secondary airports, typically serving cities largely ignored by major airlines.

Contact Starr & Associates

Let Starr & Associates help your company implement a lean methodology whether you’re in the startup phase or you want to improve an existing company. Contact us today to strengthen your successful launch or re-launch.