Introducing the Lean sprint

Most startups are familiar with development sprints of 1 or 2 weeks. They try to plan work that ‘belongs’ together and release a new version either at the end of the sprint or when the work is done. That structure works pretty well and helps building a flow into your company.

Lean Startup is easy in theory, but hard in practice. The books and blogposts are easy to understand, but how do you get into the flow of running Lean Startup? At NEXT we focus heavily on running experiments to validate the business model as fast as possible. We developed Experiment Cards to make designing experiments easier, developed our own NEXT canvas to give startups better insight into their progress and are also working on creating a workable flow that makes it possible to keep running Lean Startup over a longer period of time.

The Lean sprint helps getting into the flow with Lean Startup. We usually run an experiment every two weeks. We start with a strategy session to see what is currently the most risky and needs to be addressed, because we want to run as few experiments as possible. What we want to test can be based on the canvas, feedback from customers or the gut feeling of the founders. We then start designing the experiment on the Experiment Card, continue with running and end with analysing the results of the experiment. At the end of the Lean sprint we update the NEXT canvas en decide what the next steps should be.

Progress over multiple Lean sprints. Yellow is validated, Pink are unvalidated assumptions.

As you can see in the image above, our canvas and experiment cards combined with the Lean sprint gives a great overview of your progress in validating your business model. The results of an experiment in Lean sprint X, can result in a new feature or change in development sprint X+1. Combining the Lean sprint with development sprints of a week or two weeks gets the whole product team into the same flow and makes it possible to keep running Lean Startup for a long time.

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