28 March 2012

An introduction to Lean

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Laurence McCahill, design lead and co-founder of Spook Studio, explores for .net magazine the Lean Startup and Lean UX movements, which bring a groundbreaking approach to product development, and what it means for designers, developers and clients.

“If there’s one thing the Japanese know a lot about, it’s effective car production. And that’s where the term Lean derives from – it all began at Toyota when the car manufacturers found a new, more efficient method of producing the cars valued by its customers.

The principles learned at Toyota became known as Lean, and are now more of a management philosophy that can be applied to almost any business. At its core is the principle of creating value by reducing unnecessary risk and waste. More recently the term has become synonymous with startups, thanks to Eric Ries (a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur and former software engineer) and his Lean Startup movement.

The Lean Startup is modelled around the already established disciplines of customer development and agile software development, and claims to be a scientific method for creating innovative products (whether a website, app or service). Lean thinking is not new but has had lots of media coverage recently mainly as a result of Ries’s work.

Over the last year or so the design community has also embraced Lean through the Lean UX movement, thanks to Janice Fraser and Jeff Gothelf amongst others.”

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