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Eric Ries discusses Lean Startup methodology at Omaha meetup

Thanks to a tweet announcing his visit to Omaha this past weekend, Eric Ries, author of the blog Startup Lessons Learned and creator of the Lean Startup methodology, found time to meet up with 10 of us at the Old Mattress Factory on Saturday.

Ries, who spent much of this past year on the speaking circuit, is planning to do just the opposite this coming year as his focus will switch to authoring a business book, appropriately titled, The Lean Startup.

“It’s a different way of building startup companies,” Ries said. “More customer centric, more iterative, more scientific – we call it innovation through experimentation.”

With regards to what type of businesses can adapt this model, Ries has his own definition of startup: “A human institution designed to create something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty.” And the word “lean” doesn’t refer to a slim budget.

“Lean comes from lean manufacturing,” Ries said. “[It has] nothing to do with size of the company, nothing to do with sector of the economy, it doesn’t have to do with raising money or not raising money, it’s really about using money smarty.”

The group of 10 of us meeting with Eric Ries (far left) this past Saturday. Photo by Danny Schreiber.

Ries’ experience in the startup space is both on the founding side, co-founder of IMVU, and funding side, venture advisor at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Currently, outside of chairing boards, he’s 100 percent devoted to spreading the Lean Startup methodology. And he’s not the only one.

Meetup.com’s Lean Startup Meetups page lists 50 groups in 39 cities across 11 countries. In total, nearly 6,800 individuals are active in the meetups. These individuals, like Ries himself, look to the Lean Startup as the new model to increase their company’s chance of success.

“A bunch of the companies [I had worked at] had failed – not because we didn’t have a good idea, not because we didn’t have a smart team, but because we didn’t have a way of adapting our way to reality as we went,” Ries said. “[We] were following an old school, twentieth-century kind of mindset, which said ‘You plan, then you execute, then you celebrate.’

“When the plan turned out to not quite conform with reality, we didn’t have the agility necessary to change course,” Ries said.

Ries book, The Lean Startup, is scheduled to be released next year. Coincidently, 2011 will be the 100-year anniversary of the publication The Principles of Scientific Management, “the first management book that had ever been written,” Ries said. “I really believe we are on the cusp of a second scientific management revolution.”

To listen to my entire interview with Ries, which I strongly encourage you to do, click play on the video below. The meetup this past Saturday was a real treat, and I captured much of what Ries talked about in my interview. I agree with my colleague, Dusty Davidson, 100 percent, when he told me after the meetup, “I could listen to him all day.” Ries’ thoughts especially resonate with those interested or involved with startups or entrepreneurship.

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