The term “lean startup” is not very old. Coined by entrepreneur Eric Ries on his blog in 2008, lean startup built on the foundation of many earlier ideas, from Toyota and lean manufacturing to agile development methodologies to Steve Blank’s philosophy of customer development. But it described a new approach to developing prototypes, learning from customers, gathering data, and pivoting until you’ve created something that people really want.

A big focus of lean startup, like lean manufacturing before it, is eliminating waste, which in the world of startups meant investor’s money and employees’ time. But it turns out that all of those things are important to large organizations as well, and so in the past five years, we’ve seen the lean startup approach making major inroads in Global 1000 companies. At companies like General Electric, W.L. Gore, Telefonica, and Viacom, executives are finding that the principles of lean startup can help them get customer input sooner — before millions of dollars are spent — and make decisions with actual data from the outside world, rather than forecasts and projections.

The goal of this report isn’t to rehash the principles of lean startup. Instead, we set out to ask executives at large organizations about the benefits they’re seeing from deploying lean startup; the allies who’ve been helping them; the challenges they’ve encountered; the software and consultancies they’ve been relying on; and the advice they’d share with others.

We also have collected more than a dozen case studies, interviews, and panel discussion or presentation excerpts that we’ve published or reported on over the past 18 months. Some of the charts from our May 2016 survey on lean startup, with 170 qualified responses from executives at $1B+ revenue companies, appear below.


Sample Data 

Table of Contents 

Intro & Survey Results

Introduction 3

Survey Data on the Benefits and Challenges of Lean Startup 5


How Do You Hand Successful Projects Over to the Business for Scale-Up? 17

Q&A: Elements of Lean Innovation 19

Advice on Deploying Lean Startup 25

Case Studies

How W.L. Gore is Training Employees to Explore New Business Opportunities 28

How Viacom is Using Lean Startup and Agile Development to Keep Viewers Engaged 31

Why Intuit Says ‘You Never Know’ about Ideas — until You Test ‘Em 33 

How Telefónica is Using Lean Startup — without Risking Reputation or Reliability 38

General Electric & General Mills Execs on Lean Startup 43 

Alaska Airlines’ Lean Startup Test in Airport Lounges 44 

Getting Ericsson Employees Focused on 30-day Outcomes 49

How Constant Contact Blends Lean Startup & Design Thinking 54

Adobe Exec Mark Randall on what Makes the Kickbox Program Work 60


Alex Osterwalder: ‘Business Models Expire like Yogurt in the Fridge’ 66

Steve Blank: ‘There are No Facts Inside the Building, so Get the Hell Out’ 75