Why Lean Startup method can’t be fully applied for companies that are, well, not startups; and how this is related to Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma.
A Kim Stanley Robinson style blog entry.
A startup is a disruptor.
Successful startups are being scaled up and made profitable.
A profitable business is not a disruptor anymore.
The Innovator’s Dilemma kicks in: if you are trapped in your current customers’ needs that give you profit, you’ll be out-disrupted by startups who don’t have to be profitable (yet).
So profitable companies have innovation agendas.
You need mid/long-term product roadmaps trying out and implementing “new stuff” to stay innovative.
On the other hand, Lean Startup focuses ONLY on customers’ current needs (Build-Measure-Learn cycle, constantly keeping an eye on instant customer feedback).
So there has to be a balance between customer focus and long-term innovativeness, and Lean Startup gives you only one of these 2 things.
Another aspect of Innovator’s Dilemma regarding Lean / Agile in a broader context.
Product roadmaps mean mid-long term goals (commitments).
Modern companies can’t afford to be bureaucratic.
Strategic goals are achieved via accountability and speed of trust.
Trust is gained hard and lost easily.
Nothing builds trust in leaders by higher level leaders more than promises kept consistently.
So here we are: leaders are promising things upfront, which leads to commitments, which leads to losing scope flexibility and flow principle of Lean.
Again, there should be a balance: strategic war planning and battlefield agility hand in hand.