Srishti Gupta takes us on one student’s journey of the renowned LSE public lecture series as she learns about Eric Ries’ lean start-up ideology and its role in the field of management.
One of the unique things that LSE offers as part of its university experience is its famous public lectures series. The themes of these lectures cut across all departments, allowing the students to engage in subjects beyond their core disciplines.
I experienced this first hand when I was lucky enough to secure VIP seats for one of the more popular speakers in the event series, Eric Ries- the man behind the lean startup ideology. He spoke about his new book The Startup Way and shared his insights about applying the proposed techniques in the various companies he had worked with.
For context, the lean startup methodology proposes accelerating the process of getting the product to the customers in its most basic form (a.k.a. the ‘minimum viable product’). The customers’ response to the product serves as an indication of the startup’s viability, leading to immense cost savings. This is possible because the investment costs would have been sunk costs, if the final product, developed and perfected after years of experimentation, didn’t appeal to the customers at all, resulting in a failed startup. Through his new book, Ries tries to expand this lean startup methodology to existing businesses across all sectors.
One of the key takeaways from his talk was that entrepreneurship cannot do without management. These days, existing firms are moving towards creating a more dynamic environment, and encouraging their employees to be more innovative. Hence the need to expand the scope of the rules that apply to startups to include incumbent firms to enable better performance.
Another interesting idea Ries put forward was that these practices can be applied across industries, from the NSA to banks to research firms. Every firm develops a product – either for a target customer group or for improving their internal functioning. Consequently, it is better to conduct repeated experiments and advance towards a final product rather than spending years of time and millions of dollars to make the product you think the people want (making the project riskier).
Attending this lecture was an enriching experience because it provided me with a completely new perspective on management. I do not have a lot of background in entrepreneurship, so I did not know what to expect from the event. A few hours before the lecture, I had asked my cousin back home to give me a crash course on Eric Ries and the lean startup methodology. Thanks to him and a few Google searches, I knew enough to not feel lost during the lecture.
However, what I loved about the event was that even if I hadn’t done all that preparation, I would have had a wonderful time because Ries’s talk had a lot of relevance to management in general. His ideas were not constrained to technology based startups but resonated with a lot of other fields as well.
It’s great that LSE challenges its students to push the limits of their intellectual capability and not be bound by the scope of their course and the public lecture series is a fantastic way to understand the applicability of what you’re studying through a new perspective. It gives you the opportunity to engage with issues beyond your field and develop a holistic understanding of what’s going on in the world – which is exactly what studying should be about.
Listen to the podcast of Eric Ries’ lecture.
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