Today's entry is about improving my understanding of lean.
I visited a physical book store, Waterstones, this afternoon to choose some books to read en route to Business of Software. While looking through the books I noticed one of the sales associates rearranging piles of books on a display table. She was rearranging them so that the tallest piles were in the middle, and the shortest piles were around the edge, to make it look "neat".
This is one reason why high street bookstores and doomed to be replaced by Amazon; here is a store paying someone a wage to perform an activity that added no real value to the customer. Or perhaps it did add value, but the decision to do it was based on the store manager's opinion, rather than any empirical data. Futhermore there were plenty of other potentially more valuable activities she could have been doing - for example recommending books to the customers. If someone knowledgeable asked me some questions and then suggested a book they thought I would like, I'd probably buy it.
But as I thought some more, I realised I was just as guilty of this. I thought I was being very lean with my approach, testing I could reach the market before building a product. However, I spent a lot of yesterday tweaking page templates in order to make them look 'professional'. I added links to additional pages that served no value other than to meet my sense of what a website should have to seem like a proper buisiness. None of this was based on real data, only gut.
This afternoon I ripped out everything that was going to require me to do extra work. There's not even a link to a homepage.
I'm not saying that doing that fleshing out the site like that adds no extra value. I am saying that it doesn't need to be done prior to launching. Not doing so both means you launch earlier, and means that you get to measure whether there is any lift when you do the work.
Being completely lean is about ruthlessness. It's about questioning yourself every time you decide something needs to be in your product. Even if it seems like it's only a small amount of work. Even if there is a clear and sensible reason to include it. Even and especially if everyone else does it. Leave it out for now, and then if you decide to add it later, measure the result.
It's the end of the week so I have updated my Goal Tracker