Interviewing Ash Maurya, entrepreneur and author of Running Lean
Yes, Ash Maurya was holding a talk at itnig! He spoke about his second workshop, “The Art of the Scientist”, and we took the chance to make him some questions about him and the Lean Startup Movement. For Ash, “the principles behind Lean Startup are very simple and seem common sense and obvious. But practising it, is where the hard part comes.” Here you have the whole interview. Enjoy!
How did you get into Lean Startup movement?
I have been an entrepreneur for many years. And one of the things that I consciously kept running into was that the cycle time for going from “idea” to “successful product” was just too long. That’s why I have always been in search for finding better and faster ways to build successful products. And when I run into Lean Startup, a lot of the ideas resonated with me, and that’s how I got started. In many ways I decided to start testing a lot of its ideas, because putting them to practice was not as obvious… so I started a blog and that blog eventually turned into a book. That’s kind of the quick way how I got into the whole process.
What’s is your best definition of Lean Startup for someone who is just starting with it?
There is a lot of confusion about Lean Startup. For me, the most concise definition is that it is an organization that maximizes learning about what is riskiest in your business model per targeted time… so, speed is very important, learning is very important, and focusing on the right things is very important.
Does Lean Startup scale? How can we keep using its methodologies as we grow our team, and the company in general?
Sure, Lean Startup does scale. And there is lots of case studies that you can find about big companies, companies into it, using it… You can also study a lot of their models. Definitely, there are challenges. Fundamentally Lean is about breaking away the specialisation trap, so trying to build more cross-functional teams, trying to build an experimentation culture. I find that that’s sometimes harder to inject into a big company, which has lots of existing processes. So, I find bigger companies experimenting more with smaller innovation teams. For a small company, one of the challenges when you start practising Lean, as you grow, is try to maintain that level of culture experimentation and building smaller teams. And there you can look at models like Facebook: it is probably a good model of how do they build small innovation teams versus large vertical teams.
Do you have any killer strategy for prioritizing? How can we know we are prioritizing well?
That’s part of what I’ve been researching a lot lately and what I’ve starting to talk and blog about: I find that the principles behind Lean Startup are sometimes very simple and seem common sense and obvious. But practising it, is where the hard part comes. And it starts by prioritizing the right kinds of risks. So if you incorrectly prioritise risks, you start running experiments which have mediocre results. I would say that there’s just new work that’s being done. I don’t have all the answers yet, but part of it is, working with advisors, working with people, looking at key metrics in your product, and trying to focus on a few things at a time instead of trying to tackle everything about your business.