Steve Blank: Are you having impact, or performing ‘innovation theater’?

Steve BlankA set of ideas known as the “lean startup methodology,” developed by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and writers Steve Blank and Eric Ries, has lately been getting major traction inside large organizations. They promote practices like building rough prototypes quickly, getting them in front of customers, collecting feedback, and then iterating. Blank likes to say that “no business plan survives first contact with customers.”

We spoke to Blank this week, who told us he’s finding a growing audience for the lean startup approach inside big companies. Our conversation focused on several things necessary to take pilot experiments and turn them into significant new products — including supportive management teams, proper metrics, and sufficient funding. Without those, Blank says, many innovation teams will simply be performing “innovation theater.”

Highlights from the conversation with Innovation Leader editor Scott Kirsner are below, along with audio and a slide presentation from Blank. Blank is a co-founder of the innovation consulting firm and tools provider LaunchPad Central, based in San Francisco.

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Scott Kirsner: Maybe just start by giving me your read on where we stand in 2015, in terms of big companies understanding the concept of lean startup methodology and practicing it. What would be your report card?

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