A Culture of Digital Blog Series: Act like a Lean Startup (Part Three)

Technology and Digital


November 7, 2016

Start small, start siloed, start with limited resources. Just get started.

The thinking behind the Lean Startup method, popularized by Eric Ries in his 2011 bestselling book, has nosed its way into the standard operating procedures of many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. And now the method, along with its associated concepts of minimum viable product (MVP), pivoting, and customer development, has officially gone mainstream: 18F, a division of the federal government’s General Services Administration (GSA), was established to teach government agencies how to work like lean startups.

Lean Startup fans have plenty to rave about. It encourages doing, rather than elaborate (and expensive) planning and analysis, and renders outputs that are intensely customer-centric. It has successfully delivered innovative companies and products: Dropbox and Zappos are both rumored to have gotten their starts as MVPs.

In digitization efforts, Lean Startup offers organizations a unique way to start small and prove by doing. It builds momentum and support in a unique way, helping organizations overcome what may seem like insurmountable cultural, functional or resource barriers. Yes, digitization must be enterprise-wide to truly work, but starting there is daunting. Instead, smart companies are finding ways to reduce churn and wasted resources by applying Lean Startup methods like these to their digitization work:

  • Digitization is launched in phases to get employee and consumer feedback throughout the development stage.
  • Feedback is regularly solicited and analytics are applied to understand user requirements. Findings are then implemented real time.
  • In addition to gaining user feedback, small, soft launches are used to foster synergy between users and the digital products, while also promoting collaboration and data pushing between departments and functions that may have previously been separated by silos.

Lean Startup is no magic bullet. It alone can’t entirely eliminate the discomfort of digitization. But it can be more efficient than massive, enterprise-wide roll-outs in creating products and services that really work to connect your organization’s most critical functions and people. And it goes a long way to progressively socialize digitization, letting organizations start small but make a big impact.

In case you missed it, check out Part One of the Culture of Digital Series here and Part Two here.

*The “Culture of Digital” blog series features results from a North Highland-sponsored survey conducted in August 2016, which explored the digitization efforts of over 200 C-suite-level business leaders in the US and UK.