During my research for Design Thinking, I found an interesting article called Design Thinking vs. Lean Startup: A comparison of two user-driven innovation strategies written by Mueller, Roland & Thoring, Katja.

In this paper, writers are analyzing and comparing Lean StartUp and Design Thinking with the result the best of both worlds, which they called Lean Design Thinking.

Below you will find an on over with the differences between Lean Startup and Design Thinking. And a diagram of Lean Design Thinking (the best of both worlds).

You can download the article clicking this link.

What Design thinking Lean Startup
Goal Innovations Innovations
Scope, Focus General innovations High-tech innovations for Startups
Approach User-centered Customer-oriented
Uncertainty Solve wicked problems Unclear customer problem
Testing Fail early to succeed sooner Pivoting is at the heart of the ‘fail fast’ concept. The sooner you realize a hypothesis is wrong, the faster you can update it and retest it.
Iteration Yes (“Iteration”) Yes (“Pivoting”)
Ideation Ideation is part of the process, solutions are generated in the process Ideation is not part of the process, product vision is initially provided by company founders
Qualitative Methods Strong focus: elaborated ethnographic methods, user research, observations, etc. Not a focus
Quantitative Methods Not a focus Strong focus: metric-based analysis; provides matrices, and testing
Business Model Not a focus Focus
Adaption of deployments Not a focus Five Whys Method
Typical Methods Shadowing, Qualitative Interview, Paper Prototyping, Brainstorming (with specific rules), Synthesis, etc. Qualitative Interview, Smoke Test, Paper Prototyping, Innovative Accounting, Split (A/B) Tests, Cohort Analysis, Funnel Metrics, Business Model Canvas, Five Whys, etc.
Hypothesis Testing Not a focus Focus
Prototype Testin Yes Yes
Rapid iteration Yes Yes
Target Group Users (usually end users, sometimes other stakeholders) Customers (distinguished between Users, Influencers, Recommenders, Economic Buyers, Decision Makers)

source: Design Thinking vs. Lean Startup.

source: Design Thinking vs. Lean Startup.

As you see the overview with the differences they both focus on “fail fast” to succeed sooner (learn faster). In Lean Startup the vision is an assumption while in Design Thinking, Understand, Point of View and Ideation is an important part of the process. On the other hand Lean Startup puts also attention in building and validating business models and finally scale them. All based on hypothesis.

Probably if you combine “Lean Design Thinking” with some early aspects of Customer Development, you will get the ideal method if you have time (and resources). Unfortunately you will not keep the speed (speed, focus and learn), so there is no ideal way of building a business. It depends per startup. Probably I will test “Lean Design Thinking” in one of my projects. Whether or not in combination with early phase of Customer Development.

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