Why Large Companies Struggle With Lean

  • Steve Blank, interviewed by Frieda Klotz
  • November 27, 2019

To compete against startups and other disruptors, large companies need new approaches to innovation.

Steve Blank, entrepreneur and author

When serial entrepreneur Steve Blank published his first book, The Four Steps to the Epiphany, in 2005, he had no inkling that it would become a founding document of what’s become known as the Lean Startup movement. But 15 years later, Blank’s ideas about customers and how to create minimum viable products have been embraced by startup entrepreneurs everywhere — and, increasingly, by leaders of large corporations and government agencies.

Blank, who has founded a string of startups in Silicon Valley and currently teaches and lectures at Stanford and Columbia, worked with the National Science Foundation to design a program called Innovation Corps (I-Corps), whose goal is to help scientists in universities commercialize their research. Using an approach he developed called Lean LaunchPad, I-Corps combines experiential learning with the best-known building blocks of lean startups: the business model canvas, the customer development model, and agile software development. Today, the program is offered at more than 100 sites around the country and is credited with accelerating the formation of hundreds of companies.