Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Next year will officially mark one-hundred years since scientific management, the first great management paradigm, burst into the national consciousness. It invented many concepts we now take for granted: efficiency, productivity, and the idea of management itself. We owe that movement an incalculable debt of gratitude. Have you decide already how to celebrate this centennial? I have: I'm going to mark the occasion at SXSW Interactive in March, 2011. You're invited (details below).

I'm starting to experiment with new ways of talking about the Lean Startup movement and the impact you all are having on the practice of entrepreneurship across countries, industries, and even sizes of companies. We are collectively bringing a new level of scientific rigor to the act of innovation itself, and our revolution is just beginning. We still have much to learn. So take a look at the ideas below, and please leave your thoughts as a comment. As always, I welcome your feedback.

The seed of this idea was planted by many of you on Twitter over the past few weeks. In fact, both I and the SXSW organizers got many emails and tweets about the necessity of having Lean Startup be part of SXSWi. As a result, they were kind enough to allow a very late Lean Startup submission to their user-generated PanelPicker system. They use crowdsourcing to figure out which speakers to invite and what topics are of interest to their audience. Even if you've never been to SXSW or don't know what I'm talking about, you can still go vote - it takes less than five minutes. Because we're getting a very late start on the other panels, our submission is way behind. We only have a few days to catch up, as voting ends on August 27 - just three days from now. So please vote, comment, tweet, and help make this happen. Thank you.

Here's the submission itself, with my first attempt at a new framing for Lean Startup as a rebirth of scientific management. I'd love to know what you think:

The Lean Startup: innovation through experimentation

2011 will mark the one-hundredth anniversary of Frederick Winslow Taylor's "Principles of Scientific Management." The tremendous material abundance we enjoy today is the result of the productivity revolution he unleashed by bringing the tools of science to the study of work itself. Management today is rigorous, scientific, and effective -at the production of physical goods. 
In other areas the picture is bleak, especially for innovative new products. We fail spectacularly in startups and big companies alike. Too often we're building something nobody wants. There is a movement that is trying to eradicate this disease. 
We are at the beginning of a second scientific management revolution that will bring science, rigor, and discipline to the process of innovation itself. It has already begun to transform the way startups are built around the world. It is called the Lean Startup. 
All entrepreneurs face these challenges: 
How do we know if we’re making progress? 
How do we know if customers will want what we’re building? 
How do we know what kind of value we can create? 
Answering requires more than just disciplined thinking at the whiteboard. It requires the coordination of people. In other words, it requires management. The Lean Startup is a management science for entrepreneurs of all kinds. It enables rapid customer-centric iteration. It helps startups test their vision before it's too late. It is a tool for people who want to change the world.
Regardless of what the SXSW organizers decide, I intend to host an event in Austin to coincide with the conference. I'm hoping we'll be able to top last year's Lean Startup Smackdown, which was put on by the Austin Lean Startup Circle. I don't know if it will be more like a party, or more like a mini-conference. In fact, I encourage you to weigh in with a comment. Would you be interested in attending? Co-sponsoring or co-organizing? Or just getting drunk? Let me know.

Most importantly, I want to continue to send you all my thanks for your tremendous support and encouragement. I can honestly say this is something I would never have imagined attempting on my own, and it is the latest in a series of amazing experiences you've all made possible. Thank you. 
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