Ignoring Lean Startup: When Only Fat Will Work

Eric RiesIt all seems to make sense until the rubber hits the road and you decide you are not happy with something. Then, all of a sudden, your lean start begins to take on a bit of a pudgy appearance.

So, even as a devotee and often day-job practitioner of the lean espoused by Eric Ries (@ericries), there are just times when it just feels right to pile on the pounds.

A case in point came this weekend — despite attending a talk earlier in the week by Ries and having reached the half-way point in his book — when the look of a start-up website I am working on sucked so much that I just had to pull it and start again.

Ries advocates building it and getting it out there to ensure it works before too many resources are wasted. In his Dublin talk (which I have yet to write up), he said if you are not embarrassed by version 1 then you have spent too much time on it.

Well, I spent no time at all on version 1 of Sir Quote A Lot, which was nothing more than a temporary landing page, and the osirquotealot.com screen shotnly reason I didn’t get publicly embarrassed was because the site had so few visitors (there is a screen shot at right).

The problem with lean is, when you are unhappy with it, lean just doesn’t hack it. You are going to go back and keep at it until you think it’s right. Yes, you could be pounding the pavement looking for customers, networking, or working social media to get the word out.

But none of that will get done until your own satisfaction threshold is reached. And maybe that threshold is dependent on other factors such as how many visitors your site gets. Under 100, for example, and any old crap will do.

So you fire something out there, start hustling, and then recoil when the full awfulness of version 1 becomes apparent.

Now, I struggle mightily even putting an adequate design together. But when it comes to good design, I know it when I see it. That means a lot of time is spent doodling, moving things around a screen and breaking away entirely until I come up with something. That something will stay well clear of any design awards, but, to me at least, it feels right.

Coincidentally, while writing this, TweetDeck was running and The Investor Pitch Clinic (@Pitch_Doctor) popped up with a quote from their ebook:

“To the user, the interface is the product.”

Advice seemingly at odds with Ries’. And that’s no big deal. Ries, himself, made light of the fact that entrepreneurs routinely get conflicting advice — often from the same person!

It is up to the entrepreneur to sift through that advice and apply his or her lean methodology to determine what works. So I thought about lean, decided I couldn’t live with the current site and spent most of the weekend wrestling with HTML, CSS, fonts, images and all of their associated properties.

It’s almost there. It would have gone live until I ran through my checks in different browsers. IE is acting up. The lean start keeps getting fatter!

More thoughts on Ries’ visit can be found here.

Photo of Eric Ries courtesy of Jared Goralnick (technotheory) on Flickr.



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  1. Pingback: John P. Muldoon » Entrepreneurs Need More Than a Montage

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