Finally it was so far. Ash Maurya came to Berlin to give Running Lean workshop. As a big fan of Ash, I subscribed myself to see what I could learn from the person who made Lean Startup most practical in his book Running Lean.

It was hard to define my expectations before. I had the impression that I understood the book Running Lean very well. I would like to hear the story in real, have the possibility to discuss with Ash and maybe I was hoping for success stories. Anyway the day before I evaluated what I need to focus on to start a new product or join a startup. My weak point is problem-customer fit and the best and easiest is to be a fast follower.

Below the highlights of the workshop for me based on the most important quotes from the presentation of Ash:

Running Lean is a systematic process for iterating from Plan A to a plan that works before running out of resources.

Why are startups hard?

  1. The myth of the visionary entrepreneur.
  2. Product development gets in the way.
  3. Listening to customers is key, but you have to know how.

Running Lean does not guarantee a successful product.

Meta principles:

  1. Document your Plan A
  2. Identify the riskiest parts of your plan
  3. Systematically test your plan

3 Types of Risks:

  1. Product Risk: Getting the product right
  2. Customer Risk: Building a path to customers
  3. Market Risk: Building a viable business

Research (Hypotheses generation) versus Interviews (Hypotheses validation)What is an MVP?

The fastest way to get through the Build-Measure-Learn loop with the minimum amount of effort.

Speed – Learning – Focus,
click here to read the blogpost I wrote based on the book Running Lean

Time is our scarcest resource.

Canvas: Problem – Customer Fit
Problem – Existing alternatives
Customer segments – Early adopters

– Five Whys root cause analysis
– “What is the job the customer is hiring you to do?” (Clayton Christensen)


For new products, the initial battle is getting noticed at all.

  1. Craft your UVP around your #1 problem and finished story benefit.
  2. Avoid empty marketing promises.
  3. Be specific.
  4. Create a high-concept pitch.

Be Specific: Instant Clarity Headline
End Result Customer Wants + Specific Period of Time + Address the Objections.

  1. Hot fresh pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or it’s free.
  2. Get your dream job in 30 days.
  3. Not more numbers, but actionable metrics.

Pricing is part of your product.
Pricing determines your customers.

  1. Price relative to existing alternatives.
  2. Keep it simple.
  3. Place a value on derivative currencies like attention if you aren’t directly charging.


  1. Okay to start with outbound channels to jumpstart learning.
  2. Identify a few scalable channels you might employ.

Key metrics
The key numbers that tell you how your business is doing.

  1. List the customer action that drives value.
  2. How will you define success?

unfair advantage
What is a real unfair advantage?

A real unfair advantage is something that cannot be easily copied or bought.
-Jason Cohen, Founder WPEngine

  1. What is your unfair advantage story?
  2. If you don’t have one yet, leave it blank for now.

Build Persona’s!

If you can’t get 10 customers to say they’ll pay face-to-face…
What makes you think you can do any better online?

  1. Attention Interest Desire Action:
  2. Attention: Nail the problem.
  3. Interest: Deliver a compelling demo.
  4. Desire: Use price anchoring.
  5. Desire: Other techniques – prizing, scarcity.
  6. Action: Don’t lower sign-up friction. Raise it.

The most important thing scientists do.
(Hint: It’s not running experiments)
First and foremost, scientists build models.
They then run experiments to validate those models.

Entrepreneurs need models too.
Objection 1:
Business planning is a waste of time.

Objection 2:
Customer behavior is too complex to model.

“…these irrational behaviors are neither random nor senseless – they are systematic and predictable.”
– Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational

Objection 3:
Every business is different.

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
– Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

The Goal:
Sustainably deliver and capture customer value.

Where do models come from?
01 Simple approximations of truth.

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
– Albert Einstein

02 Harness the power of analogs.

“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing.”
– Edward Deming

Epiphany 1:
Your business model is the product.

Epiphany 2:
Everyone is in the manufacturing business.

“Organizations live or die as systems not as processes.”
– Goldratt, The Goal

Theory of Constraints:
Every business is a system of interconnected processes with a single constraint.

Lean tells you what and how to improve.
TOC (Theory of Constraints) tells you where to improve.

Right Action, Right Time:
At any given point, there are only a few key actions that matter.
Focus on those and ignore the rest.

  • ACQUISITION > How do users find you? PAID
  • ACTIVATION > Do users have a great first experience?
  • RETENTION > Do users come back? STICKY
  • REVENUE > How do you make money?
  • REFERRAL > Do users tell others? VIRAL

What’s stopping your business from growing 10X?
-David Skok

Problem/Solution Fit Questions

  1. How many interviews?
  2. How should I score them?
  3. When do I stop?

Product/Market Fit Questions

  1. What is Product/Market Fit?
  2. How do I measure it?
  3. When do I transition to scaling?

Scaling Questions

  1. What is the best growth strategy?
  2. What key metrics do we optimize?
  3. When are we done?

What is Lean Stack?

  1. Lean Canvas >> Why?
  2. Lean Dashboard >> How?
  3. Experiment Reports >> What?

What is an Experiment?

  1. Experiments aren’t standalone but additive.
  2. Expected outcomes need to be declared upfront.
  3. Expected outcomes need to be falsifiable.
  4. Experiments need to be time-boxed.
  5. Breakthrough insights are usually hidden within failed experiments.

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