Eric Ries and Lean Startups in the NY Times


Looking ahead to Wednesday's free LEI webinar “Lessons from Lean Startups” with Eric Ries, it's exciting to see Eric and Steve Blank featured in the NY Times today (“The Rise of the Fleet-Footed Start-Up“).

You can sign up for the webinar at The live event is Wednesday 4/28 at 2 PM EDT, where you can ask some questions, or you can view the archived event soon after.


You might wonder what lessons you can learn from a “startup” if you are a traditional business or a healthcare provider, even. Eric's LEI talk is targeted for those who are NOT in traditional startup settings. One of Eric's ‘4 myths' about Lean Startups (as given in this slide deck) includes:

  • Myth: The Lean Startup is only for Web 2.0/internet/consumer software companies.

Eric says the Lean Startup approach is actually applicable to “all companies that face uncertainty about what customers will want.”

I hope you'll tune in, again the webinar is free. I'm producing the event and will serve as host to introduce Eric.

From the NY Times article:

The term “lean start-up” was coined by Mr. Ries, 31, an engineer, entrepreneur and blogger. His inspiration, he says, was the lean manufacturing process, fine-tuned in Japanese factories decades ago and focused on eliminating any work or investment that doesn't produce value for customers.

Companies that use the approach, according to the article, include Facebook, Grockit, KISSmetrics, and Dropbox.

I like the focus on rapid learning and the customer focus that's deeply embedded in the Lean Startups approach. One of Eric's startups was NOT successful – mainly due to a slow cycle time and a big batch development process:

Mr. Ries points to his own experience as a study in contrasts between the traditional start-up model and the lean approach. He was a senior engineer at, a 3-D virtual world, from 2001 to 2003. raised $40 million and spent years in stealth mode, building impressive technology, he recalls. But it had so much invested in one technology path and one business plan that the company lost its ability to change, Mr. Ries says.

I've heard Eric say they could have learned the same thing (that there were no customers) by just putting out a web site to take “pre-orders” for their product. It would have saved them years and millions instead of working all that time in a vacuum.

I think entrepreneurship is the key to new jobs and economic growth, so I hope more companies look into this approach, whether you're a small new company or an established company looking to build new products or services. I think there's a lot to learn from this methodology and, as I blogged about before, there's some real “lean thinking” deeply embedded in this approach. It's not superficial lean, or L.A.M.E. as I call it.

Hope you'll tune in on Wednesday. We already have people from 60 countries signed up!

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Also from the NY Times:

    What Start-Ups Can Teach Big Companies

    “If you are in an environment of extreme uncertainty, you are an entrepreneur,” says Eric Ries, who coined the term lean start-up.

    The lean start-up process, like every idea in business, is derivative of what has come before. The methodology, for example, includes large ingredients of “rapid prototyping,” a concept popularized a decade ago by Michael Schrage, an innovation researcher and author.


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