Lean startup is a method for developing businesses and products first proposed in 2011 by Eric Ries. Based on his experience working in several US startups, Ries claims that businesses can shorten their product development cycles by adopting a combination of business hypothesis driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and what he calls validated learning. The concept has wildly taken hold outside of the startup arena, as it promotes enterprises reducing market risks by iteratively building products or services to meet the needs of early customers, thereby sidestepping the need for huge initial project funding and expensive product or system launches and failures.
Lean startup aligns really closely with Agile, which harnesses an iterative, rather than extended development cycle to better fit product, system or process development to what users need or want.
Geelong Lean Coffee, the community of practice I founded some months ago to get Agile practitioners in Geelong meeting to share ideas, organised the event. We teamed up with another newly formed community of practice, Geelong Entrepreneurs, to bring together likeminded professionals invested in using Agile, Scrum and Lean startup to succeed. The evening was sponsored by Deakin University as a means to contribute to building economic, social and human capital and facilitate conversations about Agile in the Geelong and Deakin community.
The guest speaker for the evening was Simon Cuce, the Software Development Manager from Xero Accounting Software. Simon told the great story of how Xero have grown from a startup in 2006, to a globally successful enterprise using Agile, Lean and common sense. Topics covered included how best to manage the product backlog, good conduct at the daily standup, how Xero uses a variant of the Spotify “tribes” model, and much more.
What really impressed us was Simon’s description of the enabling culture at Xero. It’s an environment where staff are empowered to do a great job and where innovative ideas easily bubble to the top. At Xero, business value is equated with customer value and coupled with the Agile framework, teams can quickly pivot to get great features to market.
The benefit of events such as this, is that Agile practitioners can learn from others in the community and contribute their knowledge to building a Digital Geelong. Some of the conversations on the night saw Geelong professionals collaborating with the guest speaker about spinoff ideas that utilise APIs to develop new products collaboratively with Xero.
We are enormously grateful for the university’s support of this event. Being able to have access to the wonderful Waterfront Kitchen after hours provided a central venue for all to attend, and if you measure value based on the calorific content of the incredible salami pizzas served on the night, then all who attended could attest to the enormous value of the evening.