The art of Lean and the Lean Canvas for product managers
During the month of July, 2019, I’m sharing some of the most favorite and valuable discussions from the first 100 interviews. If you haven’t come across this one yet, it will make you a better communicator! It was originally episode 010.
Ash Maurya is the author of “Running Lean: How to Iterate from Plan A to a Plan that Works.” Educated as an electrical engineer, he worked in software development before founding his first company, WiredReach. He is now the founder and CEO of Spark59, which equips entrepreneurs to succeed by providing tools, content and coaching.
I discovered his work when I was looking for additional information on the Business Model Canvas – a popular one-page approach to creating a business plan. I wanted a canvas to help me formulate a business model for a product and I discovered Ash’s Lean Canvas and Lean Stack tools that help entrepreneurs, startups, and product managers create products customers want.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Highlights from the discussion include:
- When you are in Austin, TX, try Ash’s favorite breakfast tacos at Tacodeli.
- Try yoga for physical strength and mental focus.
- 3 stages of a startup that apply to product development
- The Artists are Starving: inspired by building something new, but have to eat, too. Need to find a sustainable business model.
- The Artists Have to Survive: product pivots can result in a sustainable business, but it may no longer be one that inspires its creators.
- The Entrepreneurs (no longer Artists) Must Find Purpose in their Customers: purpose and passion for the work that is creating products customers value.
- Entrepreneurship, as well as new product development, is not risky – these activities apply risk management techniques and control risk.
- The seed for the book “Running Lean” started after exploring the early works of Steve Blank and Eric Ries and the desire to test product concepts more quickly.
- A “Lean” approach is defined by Ash as one that maximizes quickly learning about the riskiest aspects in product concepts.
- Contrasted with Agile development approaches, that measures performance in terms of completed features, Lean is concerned with the value the product delivers to the customer.
- The core issue in product management is not “Can we build the product” but “Will customers care” if the product is built.
- The Lean approach involves running small fast experiments to test what customers want and what creates value.
- Properly conducted, customer interviews provide the information product managers need to understand the customer’s problem.
- Ethnography – being a fly on the wall observing customers – is also very effective to better understand the problem that needs to be solved.
- Ultimately customers don’t care about your solution, they care about their problems and how to solve them.
- Ash’s blog, Practice Trumps Theory, is full of valuable how-to information for product developers and managers. His next book will take shape on his blog before it is published.
- The Lean Canvas provides a one-page business model that works as well for startups as it does product managers. It consists of nine elements:
- Customer segments
- Customer problems
- Value proposition
- Revenue streams
- Cost structure
- Success metrics
- Unfair advantage
Special Bonus: Get a Lean Canvas Template and Ash’s instructions for using the Lean Canvas.
Ash’s mantra… “Life’s too short to build something that nobody wants.”
Thanks for Listening!
Thank you for joining me again. I love discussing product development and learning from the successes and failures of product innovators. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product innovation professional by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.