What happened before a lean inception? How do I know my initiative is a good candidate for a Lean Inception?


I always receive such question. And I usually answer it based on the context of the person asking.


Below you find a drawing I did to explain it to a person from a company that does run some experiments. The context, it is a large company. Many projects start after running some experimentation; some projects start after some customer research, and a few projects start via a business request (typically coming from the HIPPO — Highest Paid People Opinion)



I realised it is a common, generic, scenario for many organisations building digital products. Therefore I did the drawing to explain it.


Business Request


Typically the initiative arrives via a business request. If possible, do run experiments prior to start exploiting it. So, do not schedule a Lean Inception right away, but try to gather more data to support the business case. Then and only then (after getting data that supports the business request), you schedule a Lean Inception.


But I know that in some organisations, experimentation dos not happen and the business decide. Then, a Lean Inception workshop is scheduled as soon as a business request arrives. Oh , well, at least on these cases, make sure to align about the MVP so you pivot if things don’t go as well as the business thought.


Validated Experiment


Your company does run experiments. And the resulting data shows it is worthy exploiting the product idea. Then you gather your business case around the experimentation results, and go for a Lean inception, to align the group and decide the MVP.


Customer Research


It is always worth doing customer research. The best scenario: the customer research drives some experimentation. Then you have even better data points, which will help you run a great Lean Inception.


I also know of many companies that gather the customer research data and go straight to a Lean Inception. It can work, if the MVP is very small. But instead of having a very small MVP (that P means it is a product already), think about running experiments to validate (or “in-validate”) your customer research data. This is aligned with that famous sentence by Steve Jobs: “The users don’t know what they want”. I know you are not Jobs, so what about running some experiments to validate the data before going forward and building a product?


Experimenting should be faster and much cheaper than having a Lean Inception workshop, and building the MVP.


The initiative is selected; what next?

Once the initiative is selected, then you should schedule a lean inception. On it, the squad (or product team to work on the initiative) along with the business representatives and the user experience people will get together to define the MVP and the product increments to follow.