Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster

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Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster - Alistair Croll, Benjamin Yoskovitz

Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Overview: This book is a must-read for anybody whether you are a new Business Owner, or a new Startup founder waiting to disrupt the market with your new Product, or an Entrepreneur trying to evoke a new change in the Industry. It's the worst feeling in the world when you invest a lot of your own time and money only to realize nobody cares. You also mentioned innovation: What is it about the Lean approach that lends itself to innovation?

Yoskowitz: It's about doing smaller things faster; it's about experimentation; it's designed around learning quickly; it makes failing, if you will, acceptable as an outcome of this process. All of those things are what drive innovation -- doing a lot of small things quickly, ideally toward something that's larger and has a significant impact on a business. But it's also the whole concept of how to do things as opposed to how projects are more traditionally done where we say … we're going to do this [project], and it's going to take six months.

It's going to have a big budget … and then we launch this thing, and it turns out we missed the mark. That happens a lot in large companies; it happens with startups as well. It's the worst feeling in the world when you invest a lot of your own time and money only to realize nobody cares or not enough people care. Yoskowitz: I was just speaking to somebody [who works] inside of a large enterprise about this very topic, and his approach is to do small things without asking for permission.

In the book even when we talk about Lean and "intrapreneurs" -- folks who are trying to innovate within large enterprises -- we say that step one is you have to get permission to do stuff. But, in fact, this person I was speaking to said that to do small things, you don't necessarily have to get permission from management or the executive level.

It might be as simple as running an internal hackathon … or [talking to] customers beforehand. You may not use the Lean vernacular because that may not be understood or accepted, but you may start to change a few of the things you're doing internally. You can start to apply these things -- not slowly -- but to small things and sneak it in and over time, you can start to have an impact on the culture of your company.

Yoskowitz: The top-down approach to this kind of change is not necessarily going to work. At some point, a CIO has to say, "I support this methodology and this approach, and we believe data is of value and is important.

But some of the people I've been speaking to have been able to effect change -- granted, slowly -- from the bottom-up, and I think that's encouraging. CIOs should encourage that as well. If someone comes to you and says, "Instead of driving a month roadmap and assigning 50 resources and making these multi-million dollar budgets, what if I just took three guys and we spend a day hacking on something on the side.

You write about being "data informed" in your book, which is a different term than the ubiquitous data driven.

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Is that a way of saying both data and intuition are needed to make good business decisions? Applying the Lean Startup at Intuit. How Lean process improvement works with Agile project management. Lean helps turn IT engineering into craftsmanship. Yoskowitz: Absolutely.

I think you have to be careful when it comes to extremes. If you're just going with your own gut all of the time, you're going to be, in my opinion, wrong more often. If you're overly focused on the data, you can get lost in the weeds. In my experience, the data tells you what's going on.

And if you're looking at the right stuff, that's very important. But it doesn't tell you why things are going on. So you have to be careful about over-focusing on data and making decisions strictly based on what's happening without understanding the why. The why comes, in part, from constantly talking to customers and collecting what we call qualitative data or qualitative feedback. So should data influence intuition or should intuition influence the data you decide to go after?

Yoskowitz: You use intuition to put a marker in a place and then you validate with data. That's the idea behind the process. You have to understand what problem you're focused on … what is it that you're trying to solve.


You have to draw a line in the sand and say I believe this to be true. But instead of following me blindly down this path, we're going to validate or, and let's be completely frank, invalidate the possibility of what I believe. So the data is what validates whether your gut is right or not right.

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Please check the box if you want to proceed. Organizations need to align their customer strategy with their technology and know how to gather and use the right customer data Engagement with customers inevitably yields a trove of sensitive data.

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