Lean Startup - Build, Measure, Learn + CHEAT SHEET

Episode 85 - 17 May 2017

Last time, I laid out my Cunning Plan to combine two ideas - "The Lean Startup", and "a course of some kind" - into a collaborative experiment.

Truth be told, it hasn't gone quite as I expected: which makes it far more interesting :)

In today's episode, I'll introduce you to a cornerstone of "Lean": the Build-Measure-Learn loop.

As you'll see, it's a more powerful model than it appears to be at first sight.

Remember to grab your free The Lean Startup Cheat Sheet


I asked for your help to put into action a "Cunning Plan" to create a COURSE in a LEAN way. (That’s “Lean” as in “The Lean Start-up”.)


I’ll bring you up to date with developments. Rather surprising developments.

Build, Measure, Learn

If you do a Google image search for for “the Lean Startup”, you’ll find no shortage of pictures of Eric Ries’ book, “The Lean Start Up”.

You'll also find this: the Lean Start-up “Build-Measure-Learn” loop.

As tends to happen, there's been some Interpretation:

  • Most versions emphasise the verbs - the doing words
  • One or two emphasise the nouns - the things
  • Some give them equal billing.

I'm going to use this version, with the emphasis where it should be, on the “doing words”: Build, Measure, Learn

If this model is new to you, take a moment to gauge your reaction to it.

I know, I know. It’s stunning. Earth-shattering. Revolutionary. A game-changer.

Oh. That’s not what you’re thinking?

Wanna know what my first thought was?

It’s no different to Plan, Do, Check, Act; a model that I heard about 30 years ago.

But, as is often the case, there is more to this model than meets the eye.

What if I told you that we’ve already fallen into TWO traps that is this model was designed to help us to avoid.

'Course of Some Kind'

Last time I gave you a terrifying insight into the workings of my mind: The twin ideas of “Lean” and “developing some-kind-of a course” that coalesced into the notion of developing a "Course of Some Kind" in a Lean fashion.

With your help.

The episode went out… and your comments started to come in.

As I read them I got concerned.

Many of the suggestions, were about the CONTENT of the course itself.

This is the first trap.

Now hear me clearly: I TOTALLY understand. Because it’s EXACTLY what I would have done.

It’s what we’re programmed to do. Given an outline, we like to fill in the gaps.

More than “like”: compelled! Did you just fill in a triangle?

People love to build

One of the Build Measure Learn images I found expresses this just about perfectly. It’s spot on: “People love this part!”

There’s a STRONG drive to “get on and build it”. It’s a very HUMAN drive.

It’s a drive that we would do well.. to RESIST!

“Hold on just one minute” I can hear you say.

“It Is says Build Measure Learn. And you’re giving us a hard time for wanting to build?

“What? Are just going to magically Measure?”

“Why not cut out the middle man and go straight to LEARN?!?“

You raise an excellent point.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the flow here is in a clockwise direction. Of course it is. It would be weird if it wasn’t.

Anyway. It’s a flow of doing. A flow of action.

What’s clear if you read the book, is that there’s also an anti-clockwise flow.

It’s a flow that you’ll struggle to find in a Google Image search - although I did find one eventually.

Check this out:

  • Assumption, Metric, Experiment

Notice that it’s a flow of “thinking” rather than a “doing”. A flow that comes - just case it’s not 100% obvious - before the “doing”

The hidden anti-clockwise / counter-clockwise flow is, in my opinion, the key that unlocks the power of the Build Measure Learn model.

Rather than speaking in the abstract, let’s apply if directly to our project - the “5 Day Mini-course”.

What’s the assumption?

I guess it’s that people, will, you know.. like it.

This is no time for woolly thinking.

How about:

ASSUMPTION: “The 5 Day Mini-course will help to grow my audience”

Hmm… okay. Not sure that’s specific enough… but let’s see where it leads us.

What’s the metric?

YouTube viewers? YouTube subscribers maybe?

I’d actually like to throw the net wider than YouTube. How about email subscribers: Email opt-ins?

Let’s change this.

“The 5 Day Mini-course will result in more email opt-ins.”

And the metric is: email opt-ins.

Next time

All we need to do now is to come up with an EXPERIMENT

Which is where I fell into a second trap. I tell you all about that next time.