In the industrial world, the elimination of “muda” (Japanese term for waste) can’t be stressed enough as means to increase productivity and profitability, yet there is a vast majority of service-related businesses that are still trying to figure out how to implement lean strategies to their businesses.
Startup founders may find that there are several tools currently being used by big companies that may be applied to their own businesses to create “unfair advantages” relative to the competition just by designing and operating more efficiently.
May I present to you what I’d like to call The 7 Startup Mudas.
As Eric Ries’s Lean Startup states, don’t waste your time and launch as fast as possible.
Don’t waste money creating unnecessary inventories that will occupy unneeded space. Develop a strategy to instead buy and use only what is strictly needed.
Design only what the client desires and what you validated using customer validation tools. Make sure you are developing the right product at the right time for the validated client.
Don’t waste other people’s time by building complicated stuff. Save the trouble for later and try to design processes that can be easily standardized from the beginning. If you are already well on your way in your product development, ask yourself what can be improved to make your product flow without interruption. Use tools such as 5S, spaguetti diagrams, value stream mapping and other lean tools to skim the fat of your current product development process.
5. Inefficient/Too much Testing
Create your own metrics to test your product, keep track of everything, analyze variability (product and process related) and improve. During testing, try to come up with solutions to shorten your startup’s overall lead and cycle time in delivering value to clients. Have a strategy for identifying waste and immediately respond to problems, challenges or breakdowns.
6. Hiring Rock Stars
Check out Kelsey Meyer’s awesome article “Why we don’t hire rock stars”. Sometimes teams look great on paper but are they really delivering value to your startup? UUse the potential of each individual in your team wisely. Dismiss anyone that is not making a significant contribution.
Develop good rapport and minimize indirect interactions with your possible suppliers, clients and your team. Use project management tools to simplify tasks, create milestones and schedule projects.
When building your products or services always consider:
- The cost of manufacturing or service
- Learning curves
- Fluctuations in demand
- Devising an efficient schedule for material shortages
- Building flexible processes and highly configurable products
- Insufficient vendor capabilities
- Quality standards
- Process inconsistencies
Keep in mind that by developing simple and easy to manufacture products and services you are minimizing primary startup cost drivers. Be rigorous in your design approach while maintaining a fast testing atmosphere so you can develop a fully integrated lean atmosphere.
Whether your business is a manufacturing or service based startup, it is important to establish common processes for product development, product management and manufacturing service offering.
The 7 Startup Mudas will enable you to tailor your own winning formula to operate efficiently. In no time you will see significant performance improvements in quality, cycle time, asset management, delivery and profit among others. Please let me know if my advice works for you.
Eric Lozada is an industrial engineer and startup founder based in Puerto Rico, visionary thinker and coffee lover.
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