On the Shoulders of Giants (like Steve Blank)
Steve Blank is one of the creators and biggest champions of the lean startup methodology and movement. A huge tip of the cap for being on the cutting edge of getting things rolling, and for using his tremendous network, resources, and platform to promote everything lean. Without Steve and the others at the forefront of this movement, I would not be able to impact my students as meaningfully as I do. So, for that I say thank you.
Where Has Lean Gone
I got Steve’s most recent blog post in my inbox the other day. I noticed pictures of a film crew, and a highly professionally produced video. It looks and sounds great, but it’s not very lean, Steve. Not that everything he does should be lean – after all, don’t the startups grow into the gorillas and stop being lean?
Then I wanted to dig a little deeper, so I started going through all the great material from Steve I have accumulated. His Udacity course and his Slideshare account, his NSF/NCIIA I-Corps materials. There is an awful lot of repetition throughout these materials – I feel like I’m chewing the same bubble gum but it’s just a different color. Again, not very lean Steve. I don’t see a whole lot of experimenting, MVPs, pivoting. Now, I admit that I have no idea what goes on behind the scenes, and I would imagine (and hope) that Steve is experimenting with new approaches. I don’t see much talk of that, however. I see partnerships with the NSF, with the Kauffman Foundation, with big name universities. All good, and all impactful. But, again, the reproduction and regurgitation is not very lean.
As an educator, I would love to see a more transparent perspective on where and how Steve is staying lean. What is he experimenting with? What is his next MVP? What are his pivots? He has been a role model and the standard for so many – I hope he doesn’t lose that focus and become the gorilla that stops innovating and experimenting. I want to continue to learn from him, but feel I haven’t been able to recently.
As we have all learned from Steve, Eric Ries, Ash Maurya, Alex Osterwalder and others at the forefront, it shouldn’t take much to stay lean. For instance, I developed http://edupreneur.co/ in about 30 minutes based on a random idea I had after learning about the Datawind Ubislate 7Ci tablets. I’ve had tremendous response and feedback from educators and entrepreneurs in the 40 minutes since I’ve posted it through social media channels. I had an idea, I made some hypotheses, I put them out there to test, and am gathering data to reinvent the offering. Nice and lean.
Don’t forget where you came from Steve, it would be ashame to lose your authentic and powerful lean voice. Would that be wrong if he continued down the path he seems to be on, which is silencing that great lean voice? I think so, because I want more of the the raw, real, lean version of Steve. I’m partial to New Yorkers, what can I say?