Iyinoluwa Aboyeji: The lean startup (YNaija FrontPage)

Much of the rest of the country is already resigned to the revolving door of illegitimate, corrupt and inept public officials that turn up to claim their mandate every election.

It’s a start, a work of art

To revolutionize make a change nothing’s strange

               – Public Enemy (Fight the Power)


Of recent, I have become very interested in the lean start-up movement.

The Lean Startup is a new age business strategy pioneered and championed by a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and author, Eric Ries. This business strategy is heavily inspired by Japanese auto manufacturers cost efficient but streamlined approach to building highly reliable but affordable cars.

Ries’ argument as presented in his best selling book, “The Lean Startup : How today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses” is that tiny businesses can be very successful in disrupting larger, better funded incumbents without requiring large amounts of initial funding or expensive product launches by iteratively designing their products or services to meet the specific demands of their target market.

Sure, to many of you it might seem like common sense to make sure you make something people want but I can assure you it isn’t as intuitive as one might imagine.

In fact, to be quite honest with you, until recently, I personally regarded the movement with a lot of skepticism. In my mind the wisdom of the lean start-up movement was far more relevant to the next photo sharing app than to a socially transformative business like ours trying to bring game changing technology to online education. It turns out I was wrong. I am currently applying the lean start-up precepts to a new product my company is launching in the near future and I am finding it very helpful for focusing the team and clarifying priorities – all of which help us build and release faster. In fact, I think every project manager should do well to read the book. The strategy might not always be applicable but at least you might learn one or two things that would help you reduce waste in your assigned projects and focus on value creating activities.

Now, although the book is specifically targeted at technology start-ups, one idea that has occupied my mind all this while is how these principles may also apply in our effort to take back our government and establish a functional democracy. What could we achieve if we encouraged lean thinking in our effort to reform government?

One thing a lot of us who desire to see a truly progressive don’t seem to realize is that we are actually in the minority. Much of the rest of the country is already resigned to the revolving door of illegitimate, corrupt and inept public officials that turn up to claim their mandate every election. Sure, they hope things will be better but they have no idea what better looks like. To make matters even worse, compared to the PDP’s and ACN’s billion naira chests of kidnapped treasury funds our millions in resources make us look like tiny squelchable ants. In many senses, we are like those small start-ups hoping to disrupt a large, inefficient and bloated but very well funded incumbent. This is why reforming government means we must be willing to adopt lean thinking. Unlike many out there, I am not convinced that the amalgamation of strange bedfellows the opposition will now become in 2015 will be enough to knock off the ruling party’s overwhelmingly negative influence on government.

So what would a lean political party look like? We’ll talk about this next week.



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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