Posts tagged Lean
Making the Most of Capital

A not yet true story of how Lean helped one startup

Tucked within the walls of an inconspicuous building off of Liberty Heights Avenue in Baltimore lives a true gem of Maryland’s entrepreneurship community. Conscious Venture Lab runs an accelerator program here for purpose-driven startups who epitomize the principles of conscious capitalism.

It was here that I had the pleasure of reconnecting with my former coworkers, Josh Massey and Gabe Bustos, to learn about their company, Ortus Academy. Ortus teaches money management and financial intelligence to 5th-12th grade students with a proprietary and hands-on money game they call NumisMatters.

In the days that followed my conversation with Gabe and Josh, I couldn’t help but wonder what I would do if I were in their shoes. I imagined what it might look like if Lean principles were used to address the challenges that Ortus now faces. What the story could be if I sat down with Josh and Gabe in a year to do a follow up interview.

What follows is the not yet true story that they shared with me one year from today.

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What is Lean?

Lean means a lot of things to a lot of people. To some, “running lean” means cost cutting to the bare minimum. To others, Lean Manufacturing is all about reducing waste without sacrificing quality or productivity. In the world of entrepreneurship, the Lean Startup methodology offers an approach to building business through practices of experimentation, iterative development, and validated learning.

To me, the most important principle of lean is this:

Focus the precious time and resources you have on the right things, and don’t waste or invest new resources on the wrong things.

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The Importance of Actionable Metrics

In an era defined by big data, metrics have too often become overused and misunderstood. There’s a desire among many business leaders to collect every piece of data that they possibly can about their business to arm them with information that can give them a leg up.

Then again, just as often there are those who feel overwhelmed by the very notion of data and instead look at simple markers like revenue, production, or even instinct to tell them how the business is doing.

Either way, the result can be detrimental. Too much information can leave you swimming in a sea of dirty or segregated data, not being able to see the forest through the trees. Too little and there’s a complete lack of visibility between your top and bottom lines, leaving you charging full steam ahead not knowing where you’re headed.

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Fix the Weakest Link First

With an understanding of the business model and our most important markers of progress, the fun can begin! It’s time to dig in and figure out how to move the business forward.

So where do we start? We start with the weakest link.

Think of your customer life cycle and operating model not a one giant process, but rather as a system of interconnected processes. A series of links in one chain. If you apply stress to a chain, the entire chain won’t fall apart. It will always break in one place - the weakest link. Trying to strengthen all the links at once or reinforcing former weakest links is the very definition of waste.

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Brad EisenbergLean, Case Study