Today’s post touches on one of the more popular startup education approaches, Lean LaunchPad, which has proven effective in a wide range of contexts across the country (i.e., universities, large and small business development settings, the NSF I-Corps program), and for good reason. Lean LaunchPad presents a systematic process for customer discovery and product-market fit.
When using it, there is a greater likelihood that an organization (often a startup) will achieve a minimum viable product (MVP) that:
- adds value to the market (product-market fit), and
- customers will pay for (customer discovery).
Realizing Lean LaunchPad Limitations
Despite these beneficial aspects, the Lean LaunchPad process has some limitations and can only take innovation efforts so far. For example, in my experience studying and implementing the Lean LaunchPad approach, I have found it to be effective for new startups or product development in situations where the organization’s existing structure is still in development or very flexible. For many businesses, however, an effective organizational structure is already established and existing operations must be maintained. These organizations cannot risk undermining their performance engine, no matter how much they desire to innovate.
Another limitation is the distinction between what potential customers say they will buy and whether that product or service actually adds value to the existing business. For new companies, what the customer will buy is often THE value for the business, so this isn’t a limitation. But for existing companies that already provide value, determining what the customer will pay for does not always mean that this offering provides the best value to the company.
These limitations offer an opportunity for a new approach to innovation initiatives, especially those occurring with existing companies. Determining new sources of customer value is essential, and often, the best way to do this is by going directly to the source. Importantly though, existing organizations need to go a step further and look at how sources of value potentially impact the existing organization. Existing organizations looking to innovate should explore sources of value that simultaneously benefit the customer and existing company.