Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Five Whys for Startups (for Harvard Business Review)

I continue my series for Harvard Business Review with the Lean Startup technique called Five Whys. Five Whys has its origins in the Toyota Production System. I've written about this before in some detail, but this was an opportunity to try and frame it for a general business audience. After all, Five Whys is the most general, most transferable technique in the toolkit, because it can act as a natural speed regulator for any kind of work. (If you're curious about the theory behind this idea, see Work in small batches.)

The Five Whys for Start-Ups - The Conversation - Harvard Business Review

Root cause analysis and preventive maintenance are concepts we expect to see in a factory setting. Start-ups supposedly don't have time for detailed processes and procedures. And yet the key to startup speed is to maintain a disciplined approach to testing and evaluating new products, features, and ideas. As start-ups scale, this agility will be lost unless the founders maintain a consistent investment in that discipline. Techniques from lean manufacturing can be part of a startup's innovation culture.

One such technique is called Five Whys, which has its origins in the Toyota Production System, and posits that behind every supposedly technical problem is actually a human problem. Applied to a start-up, here's how it works....
Read the rest of The Five Whys for Start-Ups.

You can view previous essays in this series here:
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