Start me up - start leaning in!

What is lean with respect to business?  

Imagine your organization like a super-agile, high performance motorcycle with the ability to turn on a dime or power through at high speeds - that's what lean can feel like in business.  

Start your organization up and start leaning into an iterative way to enable continuous improvement, innovation, customer value.

Perhaps you've heard of lean manufacturing?  Originating in Japan, the Toyota Production System, is one of the early examples of lean application.  

Perhaps you've heard of lean, agile or scrum processes while working with software development teams?

Perhaps you've heard of lean startups?  Eric Ries in The Lean Startup shows how entrepreneurs use continuous innovation to better enable startup success.  

Many people may have heard of lean thinking and some may have worked with peers using lean methodologies in manufacturing or software product development, which is great.  But lean thinking need not be limited to 1 or 2 business verticals; lean can be applied to all parts of an organization.  

In essence, lean is code for a nimble, learning organization - an organization that strives for continual improvement, in-market agility, hypothesis driven testing, ongoing discovery, customer driven innovation. These are the organizations that maximize their potential for success!  

Applying Simon Sinek's framework for explaining things with "Why? How? What?", lean is…

  • Lean why?  To maximize customer value by maximizing resources (or minimizing wasted resources), where resources are our vital time, money, people, passion & opportunities.   
  • Lean how? By the ongoing scientific approach of applying end-user insights.  
  • Lean what?  An ongoing, actionable feedback loop of building, measuring and learning. 

What lean in NOT?  

  • It's not advocating for activity for activity sake?  As Eric Ries puts it, it's not the "Just Do It" philosophy.  
  • It's not blind gut instinct, where our next actions are based on a feeling with no path to validation.  
  • It's not about the opinions or preferences of the person(s) with the highest paid opinions.  We call those "HiPpOs".  Our management team (a.k.a. highest paid opinions) does not typically fall within our end user target market, those people that actually pay us for our products and services.  
  • It's not a lengthy 10-year plan.  It can be built around a long-term vision, remember Sinek's "why?" which can stand the test of time.  But successfully detailing our tactical actions for longer than 30-90 days?  You have better odds on the roulette wheel in Vegas. 

Lean is a disciplined, scientific approach to decision making, resource allocation, and in-market experimentation focused on maximizing return on investment (ROI).  

Like leadership, lean thinking is engineered; it's repeatable. Lean thinking can be learned; hence it can be taught.  Your organization can be effectively lean too!  

So, what is lean marketing?   

That's definitely a topic we'll discuss in more detail.  In its simplest form, it's the application of proven lean thinking to marketing for greater in-market success.  

So, what’s marketing?

There are many definitions of marketing; marketing can cover a lot of business topics.  We'll address the topic of marketing in greater detail in the future.  

Your lean marketing mojo challenge:  

Identify one experiment you could do with customers? What would success look like? What would failure look like?  How can you test it (or a portion of it) in the next 30 days?  Test it!

Resources: 


 

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