Why did you name it ‘Lean Startup’ Eric Ries?

If I have to bump into Eric anywhere, that is what I want to ask him.  Trust me, it’s not just an academic nitpicking.   I am witnessing some practical disservice this name is doing to the wonderful and pragmatic approach, that is, Lean Startup.


Lets take the second part ‘startup’ first.   Any conversation about lean startup invariably has to start with a disclaimer that ‘startup’ is not referring only to the real world startups working from garages and like.  

Eric’s definition of a startup is :  

‘A startup is a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.’

He elaborated how a startup situation can exist inside an enterprise, an NGO or anywhere else.     

There is nothing to disagree with Eric on his views about startups.  However, since the word startup has been stereo typed, cinematized and hence internalized with a narrowed view, why stuck with that?


“I know lean, don’t think I need another book on Lean” I heard this multiple times when I suggested ‘Lean Startup’.  

Lean Software Development’ is the concept introduced by Mary Poppendeck in 2003.   

Lean is a borrowed concept from Toyota to identify and eliminate waste within manufacturing process. Mary Poppendieck has cleverly applied that to the software development life cycle.   It’s all about finding what constitutes waste in SDLC and how to eliminate it.

By the time ‘Lean Startup’ came out, this ‘Lean Software Development’ was already well established.     If we dig deep, these two ‘Lean Startup’ and ‘Lean Software Development’ do not contradict each other.    Lean startup helps us not to waste our resources. Agreed.   But the approach and tools given have so little in common.  Or, knowing everything about one doesn’t make us proficient with the other. 

Then why ‘lean’ in the title?

The ideas that ‘lean startup’ brought out (or highlighted) are   ‘leap of faith assumptions’, ‘minimum viable product’, ‘customer development’ etc..    These are the ones that must have made  out to the title. 


Oct 20, 2013



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