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OGSystems and the Lean Startup


While attending a client meeting little over a year ago, Ty Smith, OGSystems Senior Consultant, asked a question - what would it look like if we were able to deliver something two years ahead of schedule and 40 percent under budget? As one might expect, the question was met with just a bit of sarcasm and indignation. When he told them that it was, in fact, reality and that GE was able to accomplish it using Fastworks - their version of Lean Startup - their interest was piqued. That is the essence of Lean Startup; building the products that customers want in a faster, more cost-effective manner.

Steve Blank developed Lean Startup based on what he learned as a successful serial entrepreneur.

Over the last five years, it has been rapidly adopted by the commercial sector as a way of doing business with such vigor that you can’t turn anywhere without someone talking about the startup not only as a new business, but also as a way of searching for and creating new opportunity. Essentially, Lean Startup requires that just three things be done and done well; the development of a Business Model, participation in the Development of the Customer (not to be confused with business development), and application of the Agile Engineering discipline.

Over the last five years, Ty has utilized the business model canvas with OGSystems’ government clients to help them develop their business objectives. Initially successful with that construct, he later tweaked the canvas to better reflect mission priorities verses the priorities of the commercial sector. That canvas is Steve Blank’s Mission Model Canvas. The difference between the business model and the mission model is that instead of revenue, focus on mission achievement; instead of customer relationship, talk about buy-in; instead of customers, talk about beneficiaries.

So what does this mean for OGS? We are actively involved in or influencing the following activities:

Stanford University School of Engineering’s Hacking 4 Defense program is looking to answer hard to solve Intel / DoD problems using the Lean Startup methodology. OGS is leading a team looking at solving an ISR problem, with Garrett Pagon, serving as lead mentor. Closer to home, OGS is helping our government clients adopt the Lean Startup methodology to solve emerging problems faster and more importantly, meeting the "job to be done" of the customer rather than just meeting the stated requirements. We are also going to collaborate with the Lean Startup Company to develop a lean startup capability that will serve as the grounding for Immersive Engineering (IE) 2.0.

If we start thinking about how we create layers of benefits to what we do, maybe we can help our customers think about how to create value in multiple ways - not just based on the requirements or solutions set that they are being asked to satisfy.

Ty Smith is a senior consultant at OGS, focused on strategic thinking and its complement to our client's missions.