Lean Startups Need Lean People

By September 15, 2017 Culture, Lean Startup

5 Traits to Look for in the People YOU Need to Make It Work

Do you have a business idea? Do you have an answer to a problem? Do you have the key to the next “best thing”? If so, you may be familiar with the idea of the Lean Startup. The concept of Lean Startup was brought about by Eric Ries and Steve Blank as a method to follow through and make your best ideas come to life. The concept is innovative and produces great results, but there is one key element that not everyone talks about. That element is the people behind the startup.

The ideas that create the methodology behind building a Lean Startup are fairly simple: look at the big picture, always experiment, constantly evaluate, be flexible and don’t be afraid to fail. In a Lean Startup, these ideas are applied to production and research methods as well as marketing and sales in order to create success. Now, think about if you applied these ideas to the people inside of the startup. What if your people were just as lean as your processes?

Unfortunately, it’s not always as easy to groom the people inside of your startup as it is to groom the practices. That’s why you have to find or nurture the right people to make your Lean Startup possible. If you are already inside of a company and looking to grow new ideas, these people may be all around you. If you aren’t beginning from within a company you may have to go out and find these people. However you do it, it will be worth your time.

1. Find People who See the Big Picture
In a Lean Startup, there is a methodology that goes into developing a successful business. In order for your Lean startup to be successful, you and the people within it will have to understand that there is a continual process that must be followed, and there are many small goals to reach within the larger, overall goal.

Now, the question is – how do you identify the people who see the big picture? In most company positions, someone applies for a job, gets the job, comes to do the job they were given and nothing more. These are not the people you want, or the person you want to be in a Lean Startup. The person you want (the person who sees the big picture) is the person who asks questions about how their position or projects align with the needs of the client. Are we doing the right things, and are we doing things right? The person who sees the big picture is the person who understands what you need. If you have this type of person in your Lean Startup, they will be able to take a step back from their role and help to solve problems at every level in order to create the best outcome possible.

2. Find People who Develop Themselves (People need to know that they don’t know)
A Lean Startup project is in a constant stage of development. The simple motivation behind the constant development of a Lean Startup is that the product will always be improving in order to create (more) revenue and grow the company. This means, while finishing one goal, the team must already be moving forward to the next stage in order to stay relevant and on top of the ever-changing market. This theory applies to all aspects of a Lean Startup and the people should be no exception.

In order for your Lean Startup to be successful, you and the people within it have to constantly be working to improve your thought processes and your skills in order to keep up with competition.

These people are identified as the people who are always looking towards learning the next “new skill” or “best practice” in order to help move the business forward. People who are constantly developing themselves come to their supervisors with new ideas or share insights from materials that they have read. In a Lean Startup, these people will be beneficial to have as stakeholders because they can move themselves forward with the product. People who develop themselves can easily move from one position to another as is needed in the project, and they can easily adapt because they do not fear change. If you can find people who can develop themselves, they will be able to improve their skills and knowledge as the company grows in success.

3. Find People Who Evaluate Themselves
Due to the constant state of movement that is required in a Lean Startup, it is important to understand the importance of evaluation. In a Lean Startup there are multiple goals to meet that often overlap, and people take on more than one role at a time. Therefore, one has to be able to step back and look at which factors of the plan worked and did not work and use that information to create momentum for the accomplishment of the next goal.

In order for your Lean Startup to be successful, you and the people within it have to be able to evaluate yourselves and your processes / data.

To find the people who are able to evaluate themselves, you must first look to people who value feedback in all forms. These are the people who reach out to others for second-opinions on their work and search for both positive and negative criticisms. The people who are able to evaluate themselves realize that there is always the possibility of a better person or a better product out there. People who are able to evaluate themselves create multiple versions of their work before submitting it, because they know that they are always able to do more. The individuals who can evaluate themselves will be able to look deeper into the lean process to identify which factors can be improved upon in order to create overall success.

4. Find People Who are Flexible
When moving from one stage of development to the next, it is important to be able to adapt to the ever changing projects and conditions that are needed in order to be successful. As in all business, sometimes creating a successful product takes one-step forward and two-steps back. While the processes of a Lean Startup are designed to create a flow from one stage to another, it is inevitable that at any given time, there will be unforeseen circumstances. When these circumstances hit, it is important to have people in place who can handle setbacks without a major meltdown.

In order for your Lean Startup to be successful, you and the people within it have to be flexible in order to adapt quickly and overcome challenges.

You can pick out people with professional flexibility by finding people who can keep up in a position where the job description changes regularly. In an innovation project, the day-to-day routine is never the same; one day there could be problems to solve regarding manufacturing and production while the next day may call for market research for the next phase of the product. To make the business successful, a person has to be able to take on multiple challenges and not be rattled by roadblocks.

5. Find People Who are Not Afraid of Failure
With a constantly developing product and market, multi-levelled plans, and an ever-changing market comes the very realistic possibility of failure. When setting out on a Lean Startup venture, there is always the possibility that the idea could come to a crashing halt and that the overall product will fail. However, because the Lean Startup methodology is designed to be more streamlined with outlined stages, the risk of complete failure compared to an average startup is decreased. That being said, it is nearly impossible that someone setting out on a Lean Startup venture will never experience failure. At some point throughout the process failure is inevitable, and that’s okay. In a Lean Startup, one has to be able to take risks in order to see rewards, and risks that fail teach lessons that lead to risks that succeed.

In order for your Lean Startup to be successful, you and the people within it have to be willing to fail.

People who are aren’t afraid of failure are usually fairly easy to find, because they are the ones who stand out. If someone isn’t afraid of failure, they usually speak up regarding ideas they don’t believe in, spearhead new projects, and are the first to volunteer in uncomfortable situations. People who are not afraid of failure understand that through their failure they will be able to find a key to something that ultimately leads to success. Essentially, finding people with this quality will be the biggest key to success, because these people are the kind of people who don’t give up.

Get the People to Get it Done
The lean process has proven itself time and time again in many different industries, and continues to guide entrepreneurs on towards success. If you have a Lean Startup or are intrigued by it, you can learn the processes, methodologies, tips, tricks and secrets to success through research and education. However, the implementation of all that you learn and know will prove to be much easier if you have the right people in place.

If you think that you have the ability to be the next Apple, then you have to invest in your idea. Most entrepreneurs are willing to invest the necessary time and money into finding the best manufacturing, marketing, and research to make their product a success. What many fail to remember at the beginning is that if you invest the time and money into finding the best people to put behind your product, your success is more likely to last.

The Lean Startup process is exciting, fun and challenging. It is the best way that you can accomplish bringing your “next best thing” to the market. It’s worth taking the time to learn how to implement the Lean Startup process; if you are able to learn it, put your resources into finding individuals who are as lean as the processes that you implement, so you can get on the road to your success.

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