It’s Time to Lean into ‘Lean’

It’s Time to Lean into ‘Lean’

By Donovan Ray Hardenbrook

W. Edwards Deming (Photo courtesy: Wikipedia)W. Edwards Deming is widely recognized as the father of the quality movement. Since the 1950’s, Mr. Deming has been highly revered in Japan. The principles Mr. Deming espoused were enthusiastically embraced by Toyota for manufacturing, supply chain and new product development. As these ideas expanded into other industries and functions, they evolved into what we know today as Lean. Lean is now being used in healthcare, software, project management, and construction. Lean principles are also being used in business start-ups and have been documented in the book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Interestingly, the term Lean was first coined by John Krafcik who at the time worked at the Lean Enterprise Institute. Mr. Krafcik was recently the CEO of Hyundai which has gone from worst class to world class in quality.

The Lean Startup challenges the conventional wisdom that entrepreneurs need to start with a business plan to be successful. Supporters contend that a start-up needs to be in search of a sustainable business model. Without a viable business model, a business plan will be full of assumptions that are flawed! Why? Because these assumptions haven’t been validated. What is the point of perfectly executing a business plan if the assumptions that your strategies and tactics are built on are flawed?

Finding a viable business model is why the principles espoused in The Lean Startup have been embraced by thousands in the fast-paced world of high-tech and software. I hope that terms such as validated learning, Minimum Viable Product (MVP), and pivot or persevere will become part of your everyday vocabulary.

Do these principles still apply even if you aren’t a start-up? Absolutely! Adapting the principles of The Lean Startup may be the missing ingredient to taking your business to the next level.

You may have heard the old adage that “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail”. My spin is “Those who fail to learn, learn to fail.” Learning must come before doing. In this fast-paced and ever changing world we live in today, we must become life-long learners. It could be the difference between just surviving and thriving in business. So stay tuned and get ready to lean into Lean!

Don HardenbrookDonovan Ray Hardenbrook, principal of Tempe-based Leap Innovation LLC, has a passion for helping entrepreneurs solve their complex business challenges. He is a certified New Product Development Professional and Project Management Professional. Donovan is also a founding partner of the John Maxwell Team and is a certified leadership coach, speaker and trainer. Donovan holds Masters Degrees in Business Administration and Electrical Engineering.


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BySCORE Phoenix

The Greater Phoenix Chapter of SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small businesses start, grow, and succeed nationwide. As a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), SCORE offers mentoring for small business owners through a large network of volunteer mentors, local workshops, events, and tools.

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