Steve Blank, the father of Lean Startup, shared with industry and government how to innovate faster, cheaper, and better during a USGIF and OGSystems special presentation Aug. 14.

Blank began his career in U.S. Air Force electronic warfare, then founded and sold eight tech companies, four of which went public. Now, as a retired serial entrepreneur-turned-educator, he is changing how startups are built and how entrepreneurship is taught. The National Science Foundation I-Corps adopted Blank’s Lean Launchpad methodology, and his work inspired the General Services Administration’s digital service agency 18F.

According to Blank, innovation is not a noun or physical place—having an incubator, accelerator, or start up does not guarantee an organization is producing innovative thoughts and ideas.

“I call this innovation theater,” Blank said. “It looks good. It’s great PR. But it doesn’t move the dial.”

In outlining the Lean Startup methodology, which champions a more agile approach to innovation, Blank emphasized the importance of speed.

“Our adversaries’ speed is a threat, but our speed potentially is mitigation,” he said.

Some more soundbites of advice from Blank:

  • An “ambidextrous organization” executes and innovates well without the two goals getting in one another’s way.
  • There are no facts inside your building. Get outside and talk to customers!
  • An agency that doesn’t take technical and other risks puts the U.S. at a disadvantage.
  • In a lean organization, failure is an integral part of the process. Testing is measured in thousands rather than millions or billions of dollars. This also means it costs very little to pivot early on (iteration without crisis).
  • Bottom line: lean innovation delivers products and services that users want in a fraction of the time.

Watch the above video for Blanks’ full explanation of the Lean Startup methodology, how it is applied, and why it works.

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Posted by Kristin Quinn

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