My last post was about agile ideologies, the practice of suspending disbelief and trying something without too much thinking or tweaking for long-enough to collect quality data but not long-enough to go native and lose perspective.
A great starting point for practicing agile ideology in startups is The Startup Holy Trinity:
- Agile development for high-velocity product execution
- Cloud deployment for managing operating costs
- Customer development for achieving product/market fit
Pick a methodology and, unless you are already an expert in it, follow it blindly for two iterations. Put incentives that support your team’s blind faith. Make it fun. Make it competitive. Make it understood exactly when blind faith will go away.
Unless you have a very good reason or two why your product can’t be running on infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or, even better, a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider, try the cloud. Take the top two reasons why you think you can’t deploy to the cloud and question the assumptions they are based on. Early stage startups don’t have Innovator’s Dilemma but their founders do. Don’t be like those to looked at Windows 3.0 in 1990 and thought they needed their Unix workstations or like the those who laughed at the Web’s clunkiness in 1994.
Customer development is the tricky one. The methodology is iterative and self-regulating but the iteration lengths can vary. It’s easy to know when to initiate blind faith but not so easy to know when to stop. It’s an issue a number of us are starting to think about and one we’ll cover at Customer Development: The Second Decade.
Where I will deviate from the traditional lean startup thinking is on the topic of bootstrapping. I simply do not see the type of fundamental, long-term transformational benefits coming from bootstrapping that I see from agile development, cloud deployment and customer development. Don’t get me wrong, I like bootstrapping, have used it and have recommended it to others in the right circumstances. But bootstrapping has an opportunity cost and there are common anti-patterns that lead startups to under-perform in bootstrap mode.