I have been contemplating the application of lean principles in daily life. Or was it the application of daily life to lean methodology? In any case, there are 2 principles we should all take into consideration when we live, work or play.
1. Know Thyself
The advocates of lean methodology believe strongly that you should be aware of your actions and of the business model you follow. Although writing up a business plan is discouraged, putting together a lean canvas is a must.
The lean canvas is giving you the opportunity to explore such aspects of the business as
a) the problem you intend to solve,
b) the solution you offer,
c) your unique value proposition,
d) the customer’s activities you will be measuring
e) the part of the market you will be targeting
f) the channels through which the customers find you
g) how much the business costs you
h) how do you get paid
i) whether you have any other advantages
The answer to the above questions will give you a fair overview of your business and the knowledge you need to achieve success.
How does that compare with real life? The more you become aware of yourself, the more are the chances to achieve self knowledge. You will get to answer the Big Question “What am I like”. Your true self will be revealed gradually and steadily, and it will lead you to the highest realms of Awareness.
The phrase ‘Know Thyself’ or “γνώθι σαυτόν” is not new. It has been inscribed at the front of the Temple of the Greek God Apollo in Delphi. Apollo was the God of Light, Reason and Music. Delphi was his main oracle and it was placed in the ‘bellybutton’ of the Earth. Although, the phrase was attributed to several Greek sages, it has been used extensively in the works of the philosopher Plato (5th century Athens).
The idea behind it can be found also in other cultures, especially the ones that are spiritually oriented, a fact that underlines its importance in everyday life.
2. Know your Friends
According to lean methodology, the Benefits from Customer Development are significant and the process is crucial in the building of your business. This customer development aims at discovering who your customers are and the market segment in which they belong.
In order to achieve this knowledge, the entrepreneur conducts in-depth interviews with the early adopters of his product. S/he gets to know the customers really well, so that s/he identifies the problem and finds out the right solution for them.
These early adopters, otherwise called EarlyVangelists, become the entrepreneur’s best friends. These are the people who will spread his/her message, not just the ones who will buy his/ her products.
The same principle applies to life outside the business world. The friends are the people who will support us, protect us, assist us, help us, aid us, so that we overcome the difficulties life imposes on us. A life without friends is indeed a pathetic existence.
Once again, I have drawn the analogy based on Greek history and culture. Since several thousands of years ago Greeks believed strongly in the creation of an inner circle. This circle was going to include only friends and extended family. The rest of humanity was either insignificant or hostile. Such an attitude was considered to be absolutely essential for the eventual survival of one’s private world.
3. Know your Enemies
I beg to differ. The idea does not come from Greek antiquity (though it could). It comes from the Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu and his Art of War. Specifically, he says (in a lose translation)
“Know Yourself and Know your Enemy and you will not be endangered in a hundred battles”.
He continues by saying
“When you are ignorant of your Enemy but you know Yourself, you have the same chances of winning or losing”.
He concludes with the phrase
“If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will face danger in every battle”.
However, the more popular version of these ideas comes from The Godfather II, in which the leading character, Corleone, exclaims “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer”
According to lean startup methodology, knowledge of your competitors is essential when you are entering the world of business. These competitors have already conquered a large segment of the market, while they have considerably more resources. Therefore the entrepreneur needs to know the competitors’ strengths and weaknesses very well, in attempt to outsmart them.
For more information on lean startup methodology, you could take a look at my other blog posts.