Roots of the Lean Startup methodology are in TPS and its application to startups connects it strongly with the US culture; this sometimes makes it less portable to other cultures. In Greece, startup founders have heard about Lean, but are generally quite skeptical about the effectiveness of the methodology per se. This is for a couple of reasons, one being perceived cultural fit, and the second the expected effectiveness and monetisation capability in the real world. However, the Lean Startup methodology has a flexible structure formation that in its essence is culture-transparent when set-up and communicated properly to stakeholders.
In a less developed entrepreneurial ecosystem, such as the one we currently have in Greece, ‘plain vanilla’ business models – that is, obvious venture plays that exploit and build on profound needs of the country for business growth – are at front stage. For such ventures, Lean is optimal with a more pre-determined set of options and course – a recipe – for building a successful startup. Pre-determined by itself lies outside the definition of Lean Startup, as it does not make optimal use of essential elements of Lean such as: freedom for creativity, rapid sandboxing and of market opportunity seeking, rigorous metrics, pivoting, etc.
In Greece, there is significant room for Lean to be exploited further in new media – which require sophistication in the metrics and fine course adjustments as communications campaigns unfold. Also in health, which require more subtle and decree communications with customers and in retail, especially in combination with tourism and social responsibility. One of the Greek startups practicing Lean is Offerial, incubated at iQbility.
To begin experimenting and applying more Lean variations of their business models, Greek startups must place more emphasis in Metrics and Build-Measure-Learn speed. Even in ‘plain vanilla’ business models, pushing the limits of creativity and effectiveness through carefully planned and tested variation of the main business model, offered to a key customer segment, can yield significant insight and better prepare startups for the ‘unavoidable’ pivoting phase, as indirect competition grows. And that is just the beginning, as Lean venture formations are meant to be dynamic, evolving and agile.