Google The lean start-up model: A better way to start-up or simply flawed?

The Lean Start-Up Model: A Better Way to Start a Business or Just a Flawed Methodology?

  • By Andreas
  • 15 November, 2018

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“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

– Mike Tyson

Science Vs. Intuition

As of 2018, the ‘lean startup way’ is one of the most popular methods of building a new business.

I know – it’s been 8 years since Eric Ries introduced us to it but still going strong.

And for many, that’s a good thing!

After all, as they would say, it’s a scientific(ish) process that has been proven to work…

… not necessarily for turning a (business) idea into a success but at least helping people find out – fast – whether it has market acceptance or not.

So what’s so special about it?

According to Steve Blank, also one of the lean startup pioneers, it’s special because:

It favours experimentation over elaborate planning, customer feedback over intuition, and iterative design over traditional ‘big design up front’ development.”

Which as you might agree, at least in theory, appears to be a more appropriate formula for startups.

But at this point you might wonder:

If it’s an undisputed theory that does the job (for everyone) why even bring this topic in the first place?

Well, because it simply is not undisputed!

In fact, the last couple of years more and more people came out of the woods and said…

… that thing doesn’t work; time to throw it under the bus!

How come?

The Case Against Lean Startups

Allegedly for a couple of reasons…

Reason #1Code for unplanned

This one comes from Peter Thiel…

Would-be lean entrepreneurs have been trained to believe that: “nothing can be known in advance…[so] you should not know what your business will do; planning is arrogant and inflexible. Instead, you should try things out, iterate, and treat entrepreneurship as agnostic experimentation.

The consequence of that behaviour?

Encouraging new entrepreneurs to jump in a market recklessly.

Quite often without even a basic understanding of

a) the market they are in,

b) the competitive landscape and

c) how they could create something with an edge


Because of the misconception that since you don’t learn until you launch…

… the only sane thing to do is to release something out there – FAST – and then based on customers’ feedback iterate ‘that thing’ until to get it right.

The reality?

That rarely happens!

Reason #2It gives people an excuse to create sh*tty products

Why do ‘lean haters’ say that?

Because of the MVP disease…

… which is the tendency of ‘lean entrepreneurs’ to release half-finished goods to early adopters/evangelists, because apparently… that’s what you’re supposed to do these days.

Their logic?

MVPs not only can be created fast and at a minimal cost but also, when done right, (through the help of early adopters) can be turned into ‘functional stuff’ pretty quick.

The truth?

According to the ‘lean critics’:

Early adopters (at least of this kind) simply don’t exist!

Yep, expecting some kind strangers to help you to turn your sh*tty half-baked product into something functional and ‘live the startup dream’ is:


… a startup car-crash waiting to happen.

Criticism #3It makes entrepreneurs quit, before even giving a good fight

Ben Silbermann, Pinterest’s founder, in an older interview said that he recently read Eric Ries’s, The Lean Startup…

… and was grateful he didn’t read it at the time because it might have convinced him to quit at that point.

How come?

Because the lean startup model gives people an easy way out.

According to Sramana Mitra:

The weakest point of the methodology, in my opinion, is the excessive emphasis on quick validation and pivot… But often, especially if you have strong vision and internal conviction about market, a product, a direction in which you want to take your industry, you won’t be able to score a quick validation. You would need to give yourself and the market some runway. The Lean Startup principle that Eric Ries espouses ignores this whole line of thought.”

So, with all that said, what’s my take?

Don’t Blame the Tool, Blame the User

Yep – while I acknowledge that ‘going lean’ doesn’t come without glitches I do believe, on the whole, it does more good than harm.

And I say this because hype-aside (and truth to be told when it comes to lean there is a tremendous amount of BS talk from the so-called “lean practitioners”)… 

… many of the weaknesses associated with going lean don’t necessarily derive from the system itself but rather from the fuc*ed up interpretation of (some) startuppers.

But let me say this again.

Yes lean it comes with glitches and Ben Silbermann, Pinterest’s founder is right to say what he says but still…

… in my opinion, from a cost-benefit analysis, it brings more than takes from the table!

Moral of the story?

Giving ourselves and the market some time to do its thing is a sensible thing to do but we should always keep in mind that there is a fine line between having strong conviction and BSing ourselves.


Ok guys, that’s all from me for today.

If you enjoyed today’s post, check out my kindle book, The Aspiring Entrepreneur Entry Strategy: A practical step-by-step guide for finding a validated, winning business idea that stays true to who you are, that is currently available at Amazon.

I hope to see you soon.



“Customers aren’t good at having theoretical discussions about value propositions and customer benefits. What they are good at is reacting to the solution space.”

– Hannah Alvarez

P.S. About to enter a crowded market? And want to turn your late market entry into an advantage? Look no further: The Definite Guide to The Second Mover Advantage!

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