Design thinking, lean start-up and agile: How to turn these buzzwords into start-up success

What’s the difference between design thinking, lean start-up and agile? Here’s a quick guide to the entrepreneurial buzzwords and how to use them for greater success.

As markets are more dynamic and rapidly evolving in the digital age, start-ups need to respond and operate in the same way. Gone are the days when products and services were perfected before ever being presented to the prospective market. Today, successful start-ups take an iterative approach by testing ideas and measuring progress with real users.

Three key terms underpin this approach: design thinking, lean start-up and agile. In essence, design thinking drives better ideas; lean start-ups translate those ideas into marketable business models; and being agile is flexible and adaptable delivery approach to achieve value and satisfaction.


Design Thinking

Design thinking takes a designer’s approach to creating solutions for identified problems. The human-centred methodology is focused on solutions and actions rather than problems, and provides a pathway for inspiration, problem definition, idea generation, prototyping and testing.

“Design thinking utilises elements from the designer’s toolkit like empathy and experimentation to arrive at innovative solutions. By using design thinking, you make decisions based on what future customers really want instead of relying only on historical data or making risky bets based on instinct instead of evidence,” explains David Kelley, founder of IDEO and Stanford d.school.

By developing this understanding of the people for whom products and services are being designed, start-ups can develop empathy with their target user in order to propose human-centric solutions.


Lean Start-up

The lean start-up turns these proposed solutions into marketable business models by rapidly testing ideas and methods with actual customers in order to refine products and services. The lean start-up aims to shorten the development cycle through experimentation, iterative releases and validated learning across product or service features, customer segments, distribution channels, marketing channels, revenue models, cost structures, messaging and so on.

The methodology is intended to minimise risk and resources and maximise impact and potential success by experimenting at a fast pace. It is based on the premise that if start-ups invest time into iteratively building products or services to meet the needs of early customers, they can reduce market risks and upfront funding.



Lean start-ups must be agile. Agile is a flexible working approach with frequent and incremental product releases, ongoing reassessment and adaptation of plans. It engages real customers in the ongoing development of products and services in order to receive user feedback for adapting and delivering what customers need and want.

Themethodology focuses on short term goals, fast results and adapting strategy accordingly. This helps start-ups contend with unexpected obstacles and rapidly changing market demands and conditions. This relates back to design thinking as it focusses on achieving customer satisfaction through human-centric solutions.

So, what happens when you combine design thinking, lean start-up and being agile? You have greater potential for success You can generate more viable ideas, refine products and services, validate methods of execution and ultimately provide value to customers, all while limiting time and cost.


Source: Gartner https://www.collectivecampus.com.au/blog/the-difference-between-design-thinking-lean-startup-and-agile

Categories: General News

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