A Look Back at a 2011 #LeanStartup Podcast with @EricRies and His Next Book, “The Startup Way”


Back in 2011, I was able to do a podcast with Eric Ries, author of the book The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses.

Over the years, I've been fortunate to speak at (twice) or attend the Lean Startup Week conference (four times?). I really enjoy the chance to get outside of my usual Lean or Lean Healthcare circles to think about improvement and innovation in different ways.

I was very excited to have a chance to read an early version of his upcoming book (due out in October 2017), titled The Startup Way: How Modern Companies Use Entrepreneurial Management to Transform Culture and Drive Long-Term Growth, where he shares stories and principles from companies like GE and Toyota.

Lean Startup principles and methods can be applied in any setting where an organization is considering bringing something new to market… and that includes healthcare (where Lean Startup methods were part of the approach used at Atrius Health).

Eric and his publishing team also applied an experimental process to determine what the book cover should be, rather than just guessing “what's best” before going to print. You can read about that here. They used structured experiments and data to determine which cover would stand out most and would drive the most sales.

I'm also excited to have been asked to come do a “Lunch and Learn” session this year on the famed W. Edwards Deming “Red Bead Experiment,” where we will actually run the exercise and reflect on implications for startups and their metrics. I'll also have a short main stage talk to introduce the key lessons learned for startups (things we've applied at KaiNexus too), such as:

  • Don't overreact to every up and down in the data (noise)
  • Don't waste time searching for explanation for noise in the data… focus on improving the system and its overall performance instead

You can use this link to register with an additional 15% off of the regular (or already discounted) Lean Startup Week admission price.

One thing I really appreciate about Eric is his understanding and citation of legends like Taiichi Ohno and W. Edwards Deming in his books. What might seem like outdated industrial history to some is, instead, a foundation for Eric that's still relevant today.

Some examples of those mentions in The Lean Startup:

See a Deming Institute post on that concept of the customer being the most important part…

Deming would often ask, “By what method?” are we going to achieve goals in a scientific improvement model?

And of course, there's the challenge of distinguishing between special cause and common cause, as I'll be talking about:

And lessons from Ohno on Shingo on small batches (as applied to manufacturing or software releases):

And credit given to Ohno for the 5 Whys method, as I've blogged about and elaborated on here and here.

Anyway, here is the original audio from the 2011 podcast:

You can also listen to a separate episode (#142) where Eric shares some reflections on Taiichi Ohno and what Ohno's work means to him.

You can also read a partial transcript of Episode 115 here, or you can read the whole transcript as part of an eBook that contains some of my favorite podcast transcripts (including this one), via LeanPub.com or Amazon Kindle:

Today, I'm happy to share a 4-page PDF summary of the episode, as I've been doing with recent episodes of the Lean Blog Interviews Podcast.

Here are my original thoughts from meeting him in late 2009 at MIT:

Hope to see you in San Francisco this November!

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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.


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