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Justin McMurray

Justin likes start-ups, digital service design and lean thinking/action. He loves talking ideas and good coffee, preferably together. He's on Twitter at <a href="">@juzmcmuz</a> and in real life he doesn't look anything like Lionel Richie or a strange combination of Miami Vice's Crockett and Tubbs (as explored with this <a href="">Venn diagram</a>).

It's not easy being lean

The rise and rise of the lean startup movement seems to continue unabated - notwithstanding the odd notable dissenter ("fat startup" anyone?).

However, with its broader acceptance and adoption come some associated problems, most notably ones of understanding. Or more specifically misunderstanding of what lean is (and what it isn't).

I have no problem with people who understand the Lean Startup Movement approach and decide it's not for them (one hopes they have another approach to making something people want!). But as its fame spreads, and the level of 'lean understanding' spreads invariably er.. thinner, there will increasingly be those who reject it based on misconceptions or some incorrect assumptions that they are 'already doing it'.

So, it's time to confront some of these misconceptions... if only to avoid the déjà vu-esque prospect of tiresome and ongoing misunderstandings over what Agile really is and how to do it (hint: Agile is not about doing Waterfall quickly).

So here they are: some of the Lean Startup misunderstandings that we've encountered. 


A baptism of lean

OK, so we go on and on about lean startups here at Made by Many. And while it is indeed pretty tasty Kool-Aid, we're primarily obsessed with it because it's helping us deliver some great services that people actually want.

So what happens when a bright-eyed, fresh-faced MxMer joins the team having responded to a contract position asking for "curious" people?

Well, we start the indoctrination. So if you're a relative newcomer to lean startup movement, read on to see how Nicki Sprinz (@sprinzette) handled being thrown into the 'lean end'. 


5 Ways to Well-being: an imagined iPhone app

I recently watched the utterly fantastic TED talk ‘The Happy Planet Index’ by Nic Marks. The talk covers a lot of sensible ground including why the environmental movement needs to shift their tactics as well as the quite stunning results from his research on measuring countries’ happiness in relation to life expectancy, contentment and ecological efficiency (hint: the results will surprise you).

It’s well worth 17 minutes of your time.

However it was his concluding comments about the key ingredients driving people’s happiness that really caught my attention. The principles, which Marks only had time to race through, came out of some research by the New Economics Foundation (nef) in 2008:

  • Connect
  • Be active
  • Take notice
  • Keep learning
  • Give

What customers want

(or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the Obvious)

(also know as ‘The empty hamburger dilemma’)

Most new products and services fail. This is a depressing reality to swallow, however I am amazed by how few people ask why this happens. Or worse still all the people who have an in-built assumption and acceptance that most new things should fail. This shouldn’t be the case.

Here is a sad graph showing total product failures.
failed products

Why all this failure?


A manifesto for Agile strategy: oxymoron or innovation?

You can talk and think about stuff for ages and ages before doing something or other. Why not just do something straight away and learn from that?

London was basking in unexpected sunshine and Tim Malbon (aka @malbonster) and I were wolfing down some fish and chips in Soho. His off-the-cuff comment stopped me cold – chip halfway to mouth – and in one way or another I have been thinking about it ever since (it was 6 months ago!).

Doing over planning‘ might be the simplest way to summarise the Agile philosophy that Made by Many so fervently pursues (a great non-tech articulation of the Agile approach to web apps is Getting Real by 37 Signals).


The Nike+ for … sleeping

There’s a pretty cool iPhone app that I’ve been trying out for a few days nights which seems to capture the imagination of everyone I talk/Twitter/Facebook to.

It’s called Sleep Cycle and it purports to analyse and track your sleep patterns and then wake you at the optimum time in the morning (ie at the lightest sleep phase. You can check it out here (or purchase directly from iTunes for £0.59).

You set it up by placing your iPhone on the mattress (next to the pillow but not covered by it), and then the app uses the accelerometer to measure tiny movements in the mattress as you toss, turn and generally shift around.