"Lean Startup" Lessons for Big Companies
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Today I finished reading Lean Startup book and, like most of other readers, I can just rate it as excellent.
Here, though, I'll not talk about the quick iterations proposed by the book with the purpose of learning what works and what not, but rather the organizational aspects suggested by the author. Eric shows how big companies are already having difficulties in the new era if they don't adapt to the startup mindset.
One of the most important things is to have cross-functional small teams in order to have small pockets within the company that work like startups. One good example of company that implemented that is Intuit. Going in the direction of large functional organizations isn't the right thing to do, if the company wants to deliver in small batches. Big functional orgs work well for delivering in big batches, but that does not help with keeping up with the competition and innovation, as innovation requires a lot of experimentation and learning that is only feasible with small batches. For that, the company must be quick, must be willing to take risks, and must have the proper metrics (not vanity metrics, as Eric says) to help direct efforts. Unfortunately it seems that some companies are going in the direction of having fewer and fewer cross-functional orgs and that can be very concerning with regards to their future.
Another interesting aspect is that, different than most orgs, Eric recognizes how different employees have different skills and the ones good at innovating and starting projects are not necessarily the ones who are interested in or skilled for later stages of the project. So, rather than having a team owning a project, the "functional org" model proposed is one where projects move between teams. Each team in this model is specialized in a phase of the project. It's somewhat like a manager told me about his reports: some are starters, some are middlers, some are finishers.
Both of these points would improve the changes of big companies with challenges innovating nowadays. And not only that, it can make better use and be a better environment for employees. As it turns out, "Lean Startup" is not a book for those interested in startups, but also for senior management at big companies.