The Lean Startup

The Lean Startup

Lean Thinking has been applied to many industries, as mentioned in earlier blog posts. It also has fans in high places­—in particular, Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric. He not only is a Lean adopter, but requires that the popular book The Lean Startup is required reading for all GE managers. This shows he understands the similarities between how innovative managers run their teams and the principles of The Lean Startup. In fact, the book itself recognizes this and discusses these similarities.

Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, is not only a #Lean adopter, but requires that the popular book… Click To Tweet

By having employees read The Lean Startup, Mr. Immelt ensures that all management speaks the same language. This facilitates collaboration on organizational change. Teams understand the types of rapid procedural changes that can happen through implementing Lean Thinking. Terms such as “pivot” and “validated learning” aren’t just fancy jargon introduced by the book, they’re rich phrases that unambiguously convey an idea about how to think, act, and collaborate. Key phrases such as these help make taking the next steps into the unknown more secure and help remove the fear of changing plans as needed. With these kinds of benefits, its easy to see how assigning such a book to the management team would be so useful, isn’t it?

Lean isn’t just for startups, and it isn’t just for manufacturing and production.

Lean isn't just for startups, and it isn't just for manufacturing and production. Click To Tweet

If we can adapt Lean Thinking to running a startup—in a company like GE, no less—why can’t we adapt it applied to the selling process as well?  Lean Thinking’s versatility permits its adaptation to all kinds of industries and functional disciplines. This versatility is what allows it to be adapted to yet another new area—sales.

As a manager or CEO in your company, it is not a bad idea to assign a couple key books to your staff to read so that everyone is on the same page, no pun intended. It is all about creating a common language for your organization. Most business errors and failed programs are the result of poor communication. Following General Electric’s example, you could start with The Lean Startup to get a feel for the vocabulary.

If you’re in a sales environment, add Lean Selling to your library as well. When your team starts to communicate in a common language, you’ll see the effects immediately. Improving sales productivity and performance are just two of the benefits to having a common language. You’ll see many others once you begin to install an organization-wide switch to Lean Thinking.

lean startup

About: Robert J. Pryor is a CEO, author, speaker, educator on cutting-edge sales processes, and community builder for Lean Selling. His new book is Lean Selling: How to Slash Your Sales Cycle and Drive Profitable, Predictable Revenue Growth by Giving Buyers What They Really Want. Follow on Twitter @LeanSelling.

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