This is the second installation of three blogs on the great new book by Ann Mei Chang, Lean Impact: How to Innovate for Radically Greater Social Good, which I highly recommend.
Chang’s three core guiding principles in the book are Think Big, Start Small, and Relentlessly Seek Impact. Today we are focusing on Start Small.
Once you Think Big about the difference you want to make, then you should start brainstorming ideas to carry out your Think Big dreams. But rather than picking one idea and fully implementing it, you should Start Small first.
Lean Impact builds on ideas from the book, The Lean Startup, and applies its five basic building blocks to mission-driven organizations.
Once you believe you have a new idea of any kind that is worth implementing in your organization, then go through these steps:
1. Identify Assumptions. What must go right for your idea to work and what could possibly go wrong?
2. Build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) – a small version of the idea. Run at least one experiment as quickly and inexpensively as possible to test the most important assumptions.
3. Validate Your Learning. Gather data from the experiments to confirm what works and what does not.
4. Build, Measure, Learn. Keep iterating with your experiments and data collection as you learn.
5. Pivot or Persevere. Based on your data, either change your idea or continue down your current path.
One of the important keys with the process is Starting Small with your MVP. Chang says “Think of an MVP as the cheapest and quickest prototype or proxy that can enable learning.” (p. 69). You want to test your idea before investing a lot of time and money in implementation.
Learning, and especially learning from failure, is a major theme of Lean Impact. And you want to learn as quickly and inexpensively as you can. Running multiple experiments in succession advances the learning process.
In the final blog in this series next time we will look at the theme of Relentlessly Seek Impact. Stay tuned!