Kanban and Lean Startup: Making the Most of Both


Interpreting Eric Ries’ Lean Startup Principles
When I read Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup [1] years later, some things began to look familiar. Before I offer my interpretation of his five lean startup principles, let me restate them:

  1. Entrepreneurs are everywhere
  2. Entrepreneurship is management
  3. Validated learning
  4. Innovation accounting
  5. Build-measure-learn

The first two principles define what lean startup is about, while the last three give guidance on what you can do with lean startup and how. The third principle, validated learning, defines what is being produced, and the fifth principle, build-measure-learn is an outline of its value stream. Identifying the value that is being produced and mapping its value stream are among the first steps of applying the kanban method. The fourth principle, innovation accounting, seems to be independent from kanban.

Figure 1: Interpreting the lean startup principles

We can now apply the kanban method [2] to the production of validated learning in a lean startup environment.

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Alexei Zheglov's picture Alexei Zheglov

Alexei Zheglov was introduced to agility before he was introduced to Agile. In 2002-06, he worked in a startup that built, measured, and learned (yes, the motto of future lean startups). He learned that releasing software and getting feedback from users can take a lot less time than he had previously thought.

In later years, Alexei studied and practiced Agile more systematically, starting with unit testing and code craftsmanship and then moving into “process” topics. He had a short Scrum phase as his quest quickly lead him to Lean and Kanban.

Alexei's current interests are Lean thinking, understanding flow, process improvement, Kanban, and combing them with agile engineering practices.

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