Minimum viable product and snow removal

It is winter time in the Nordic countries, and with winter comes snow. While doing some routine snow removal the other day, my mind wandered to the Lean Startup concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Snow removal can illustrate the concept quite nicely, so I took this picture of my driveway.

Minimum viable product and snow removal

What is a minimum viable product? It is a complete product in the sense that it actually does something.

The cleared area marked in red is not a minimum viable product. Sure, snow has been cleared across the entire width of the driveway, but you can’t actually use it for anything.

The cleared area marked in blue, on the other hand, is a minimum viable product. You have pedestrian access to the mailbox and out of the yard without walking through snow. You can actually accomplish a task! Yeah, it needs to be made wider for cars, but that’s part of future development, adding more features to the product. As a minimum viable product, the product is already accomplishing something.

The difference between doing Lean or Lean Startup and being Lean

The difference between doing Lean or Lean Startup and being LeanBy now, Lean has a fairly long history. With its roots at Toyota in the 1950s, it had its first run at fame in the West in the 1990s, and more recently the Lean Startup movement has adopted the term to describe their customer-centric product development methods based on Lean principles.

However, while there are lots of companies that are doing Lean or doing Lean Startup, there are precious few companies that are Lean. This is an important distinction, because most often when you do Lean, you are using it as a toolkit, whereas for companies that are Lean, Lean is a fundamental management philosophy that has a dramatic effect on the relationships within the enterprise and also extends beyond the enterprise to the relationship between the company and the society at large.

To understand the distinction, we need to take a look at what Lean is all about.

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The building blocks of a dynamic organization

The building blocks of a dynamic organizationI have written about many themes that touch the corporations of today in this blog over the years. Themes such as Lean, social business, dynamic capabilities, Lean Startup, intrinsic motivation, and service-dominant logic each have had their time in the spotlight.

With all these themes and theories, what is the big picture? I believe there is, in fact, quite a coherent picture that can be painted from all these themes, and that picture provides some much-needed answers on what a dynamic organization looks like and how to build one.

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Managing inherent uncertainty with Lean Startup and social business

Managing inherent uncertainty with Lean Startup and social businessWe live in a world full of uncertainty. If there was no uncertainty, waterfall would be an infallible project management method and a well-written business plan would be the key to success for any startup.

So, given that uncertainty exists, we face the question what to do about it. The traditional answer has been to reduce uncertainty and thus make things manageable, and there are still many advances that can be achieved in that field.

However, the more uncomfortable question is what do we do about things that remain uncertain? What if some of this uncertainty is inherent, something we are never able to remove? In such cases, we need to build systems to manage this uncertainty, even harness it, instead of merely attempting to reduce it.

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Reaching for enterprise agility with a dual operating system

Reaching for enterprise agility with a dual operating systemThe world is changing at an ever increasing pace. This is the mantra that we are relentlessly exposed to, and there is a fair bit of data to back up that claim as well, so clearly there are some challenges for businesses that need to be met.

One of the latest attempts to address these challenges comes from John Kotter, famous for his 8-step process for leading change, who has adapted his change leadership process into a more agile version that he calls the “dual operating system” of the firm in his book Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World.

In this post, I will look into what the dual operating system is all about and how it compares to other paradigms that also attempt to meet the same challenges.

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How to change corporate culture to be more open to change

Technology adoption strategiesChange management is hard. As a general rule, change adoption rarely, if ever, happens overnight by simply adding a new process or technology and holding a few training sessions.

In a recent blog post (in Finnish only, sorry), Marko Suomi argued that people in organizations in general act according to the technology adoption lifecycle: some are very enthusiastic about new changes whereas others are much slower to adopt them. It is important to note that the enthusiasm of individuals varies between changes too: even a person who is generally an innovator usually does not adopt all changes first.

In this post, I wish to delve a bit deeper into how changes are adopted in organizations and what the management can do about it.

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Why LEGO Universe failed and can Minifigures Online succeed?

LEGO has been interested in online gaming for a long time. It first ventured into online gaming in 2005, when it commissioned work on LEGO Universe (released in 2010, shut down in 2012), and it has two newer ventures into that space going on with LEGO Legends of Chima Online and LEGO Minifigures Online.

In this post, I will examine the story of LEGO Universe, look into what success in online gaming looks like, take a look at LEGO Minifigures Online, and consider potential niches for the LEGO brand in online gaming.

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Dynamic capabilities, the scope of strategy, and Lean

Dynamic capabilities framework is a promising framework for strategic management. Based on and expanding upon the resource-based view of the firm, its founding paper by David J. Teece, Gary Pisano, and Amy Shuen, Dynamic Capabilities and Strategic Management (1997), has been cited in almost 20,000 articles.

In this post, I will examine the basics of the dynamic capabilities framework and point to some interesting areas for future examination regarding its significance for the adoption of a variety of operating models, such as Lean, Lean startup, and social business.

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How Lean is the Lean Startup?

What does this Lean Startup thing have to do with Lean? What can a startup learn from an established giant like Toyota, or vice versa? Where is my value-stream map, I need a value-stream map, right? The ground between established Lean practice and the Lean Startup movement is full of confusion, but things are far from hopeless – it is possible to form a relatively clear picture of this whole, and that is what this post is all about.

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Lean Startup in large corporations and the shadow of the future

Eric Ries has argued for an entrepreneurial career path to be created within large corporations in order to better promote innovation in his book, The Lean Startup. In this post, I will examine how this idea plays together with the game theory concept of the shadow of the future, which refers to the way our knowledge of future interactions affects our current decisions.

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