The Digital Liquid Lean Startup Methodology
An approach to deliver relevant solutions to solve the right problems and scale at speed.
The digital liquid lean startup methodology augments the team with advanced digital tools to rapidly build solutions on a scalable architecture—providing an additional boost to the build, measure and learn feedback loop—to disrupt quickly in an uncertain environment.
A Modified Approach
There are two distinct components in the digital liquid lean startup method that contributes to the significant increase in velocity: 1) the use of advanced digital (DevOps) tools to scale solution quickly, and 2) adoption of the liquid assembly philosophy, e.g. reusable building blocks (APIs), to facilitate innovation and speed.
The four iterative stages of the approach are listed below:
- Ideate: identify novel problems, business cases, new technologies, potential partnerships, new business models, etc. via workshops and formulate ideas and hypotheses to test.
- Show me: transform ideas into mock-ups and prototypes via the liquid assembly of reusable building blocks and templates to obtain initial stakeholder buy-in.
- Prove it: validate the prototype against hypotheses in a scaled-down live environment with users to obtain quantifiable proof of the solution’s viability.
- Scale it: deliver the solution to the masses at speed via easily scalable, API-driven IT architecture and DevOps tools.
By adopting the above approach coupled with proper governance, a lean team of approximately five could deliver impactful solutions over time.
The Benefits to the Table
The value increases because of a positive reinforcing feedback loop whereby the output of the loop (in stage #4), e.g. reusable building blocks, enhances the overall speed in the subsequent loops in the form of contributing more reusable blocks for innovation at speed (stage #2).
The digital lean startup method brings the following benefits to the table:
- Addresses the right problems—through constant measurements, validated learning, and hypotheses testing to find out what the market needs.
- Saves time and cost — fail fast and repivot quickly when solutions don’t work out; make multiple small investments rather than a single huge one.
- Achieve speed to market—solutions are built to scale quickly upon proving of value.
In large organisations, especially in times of uncertainty, a separate lean startup team is set up to test innovative ideas that can potentially disrupt and improve existing processes without being constrained by existing workflows.
Set up for Success
A good team consist of a combination of roles and skill sets e.g. UI/UX, DevOps, Developers, Team Lead, Product Owner, Architect, etc. Some members can have a dual role setup as well – the team setup is largely based on the program objectives.
The environment plays a large role in the success of the methodology, and it can be broken down into two parts:
- Innovative environment – frequent forum or pitch sessions to provide opportunities to share new ideas and innovation. Also, hire innovative minds from hackathons/events and include relevant case challenges in the hiring process to get good talent.
- Development environment – available tools and platforms to facilitate collaboration, e.g. developers’ portal, communication channels, innovation platforms, etc.
Another important element for success is inculcating the innovative mindset into the team by fostering governance, e.g. documentation, and adhering to the liquid lean philosophy, e.g. work smarter, not harder; don’t reinvent the wheel, etc.
Some of the potential pitfalls and things to look out for:
- Lack of governance and documentation – resulting in confusion, increased overheads and eventual slow delivery.
- Poor architecture design/foundation – resulting in monolithic services that are non-reusable and difficult to scale.
- Lack of user and market research – moving too fast into building a solution can result in excessive changes that leads to team burnout.
Overall, when the methodology is applied together with the right environment with proper governance in place, it bring wealth of benefits to your organisation. However, be sure to watch out for potential pitfalls that would disrupt the feedback loop.
In perpetual beta—playing at the intersection between digital technology and business.