Nov 24, 2011

What can stop Lean Startup from becoming dogma?

There’s a conversation unfolding about the future of Lean Startup on RoundTables, andPatrick Vlaskovits pointed out:

Lean Startup needs to avoid becoming dogmatic or a religion. It is terribly ironic when some well-meaning enthusiasts take Lean Startup as the Holy Grail of startup methodologies and expect miracles based on faith & unquestioningly “following the rules” alone.

Lean Startup-ers need to keep each other honest about this.

Thomas Schranz from had a heart-felt response on Twitter:

Let’s not get into where agile ended up with SCRUM. As much as I love the whole movement, I start to feel more dogmatism and it is very important to become aware of it before it is too late.
Many people draw parallels to the Agile movement and the dogmatism that seems to have arisen in some circles within it. It’s even been called the 2nd chasm.

I like the “challenge your assumptions” attitude in Lean Startup, which when taken to heart, helps prevent people from becoming dogmatic, but I’m not sure this is enough.

Bob Marshall points out the benefits of learning as an organisation and the necessity of a “playing by the rules” stage to become better.  This answers what individuals and organisations can do to avoid the traps within their own dogmatic attitudes. Jared Spool has a great outlook on this in the Design community.

I’m really interested to learn from Agilists, Designers and others who’ve been there, so we can learn from you.  As “a movement” is this really a critical problem? What is “too late” and what have the tangible consequences been?  Is there a signal/noise problem that prevents individuals seeking to learn more or dig deeper from doing so? If so, has that been because of people spreading mis-information, and how has mis-information been differentiated from progressive new ideas in the past? What questions should we be asking?

Please chime in here or on Roundtable.

Originally posted on Leancamp.

What am I up to these days?

I’m a new parent, and prioritising my attention on our new rhythms as a family. I’m also having fun with slow creative pursuits: making a few apps, writing, etc.

Work-wise, I’m trekking along at a cozy pace, with a few non-exec, advisory roles for cryptography and microchip manufacturing programs.

In the past, I've designed peer-learning programs for Oxford, UCL, Techstars, Microsoft Ventures, The Royal Academy Of Engineering, and Kernel, careering from startups to humanitech and engineering. I also played a role in starting the Lean Startup methodology, and the European startup ecosystem. You can read about this here.

Contact me

Books & collected practices

  • Peer Learning Is - a broad look at peer learning around the world, and how to design peer learning to outperform traditional education
  • Mentor Impact - researched the practices used by the startup mentors that really make a difference
  • DAOistry - practices and mindsets that work in blockchain communities
  • Decision Hacks - early-stage startup decisions distilled
  • Source Institute - skunkworks I founded with open peer learning formats and ops guides, and our internal guide on decentralised teams