Building an information culture
Lean startups thrive on information in the same way that lean manufacturing plants do. The only difference is that startups thrive on customer data rather than process data. Getting the best return on invested time and resources means leveraging ready made solutions by fitting them into the framework created by customer knowledge.
I just read the latest from lean startup guru Steve Blank in which he talks about building an information culture. Lean manufacturing relies on transparency of the process so that any worker on the line can see manufacturing inefficiencies or defects. Likewise lean startups rely on any employee being able to access and act on customer data. This means that it is not acceptable to have customer data locked up in a sales database that is only accessible by the sales team. It means that results of split testing is not locked up and only available to marketing or, heaven forbid, only to engineering!
At Ubernote we were fortunate to have had great customer responses to our surveys, but could we have acted on the data better? Certainly the founding team pored over the data with a fine-toothed comb, but could we do one step better? We sure could, and did. We took the data and our initial analysis and put it in front of our advisors, and more importantly, the rest of our development team! That’s right, the guys in the trenches need to know what they are fighting and how their work fits into the customer’s perception of the product.
The payoff of the information culture within your startup is that the returns go to the teams that leverage existing commodity knowledge (open source, market data, etc) and are then able to produce non-commodity knowledge from their own data.