For any social change practitioners that that would like to begin lean experiments, we recommend that they start by reading The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. The book explains the overall concepts and provides a number of case studies. The book offers a general framework that is helpful for anyone wanting to jump into lean for social impact.
When you’re ready to start implementing lean for a new idea or service, we recommend buying the book, Value Proposition Design. It offers very accessible and easy to understand lessons for people wanting to build products and services that meet the needs of their customers. We also strongly recommend the online tools that come as a companion to anyone who purchased the book. The tools can be found at www.strategyzer.com/vpd. You’ll find templates that help you think through what your constituents/customers are looking for and if your solutions are a good fit. You’ll also gain access to tools that help you prioritize your critical hypotheses, test them, and learn from the tests. While the tools you’ll find there are robust, we’d encourage people not to get too lost in it all. Come up with some ideas, listen to your constituents, then quickly get to building and testing.
A critical component of lean is to build fast and learn. This entertaining video demonstrates the value of building and testing as opposed to thinking and planning when it comes to building a tower with some spaghetti, tape, string, and a marshmallow.
A range of foundations have made significant shifts to focusing their funding on rapid experimentation. There are simple steps that any funder can take to encourage more lean experimentation by their grantees. Here at Accelerate Change, we’ve put together a guide for funding radical experimentation that includes examples of funders investing in experimentation and key strategies for funding experimentation.