Agile Vs. Lean Startup

Posted August 18, 2011 by Joshua Kerievsky

Lean Startup is a disciplined, scientific and capital efficient method for discovering and building products and services that people love.

It rocks.

It rocks far more than Agile.

Here's a table to illustrate some differences (sorry for not defining each term, I'll leave that as an exercise for you):

AgileLean Startup
Product RoadmapBusiness Model Canvas
Product VisionProduct Market Fit
Release PlanMinimal Viable Product
Sprint ReviewPivot or Persevere Decision
On-Site Customer"Get Out Of The Building"
User StoryHypothesis
Backlog"To Learn" List
Definition of DoneValidated Learning
Customer FeedbackCustomer Validation
Acceptance TestSplit Test
Mock ObjectFeature Fake
Continuous IntegrationContinuous Deployment
Certified Scrum MasterCustomer Success Manager

Lean Startup makes the best parts of Agile more lean and combines them with the brilliant Customer Development process.

I suggest that you start learning about Lean Startup right away and go buy Eric's book.

7 Responses to “Agile Vs. Lean Startup”

  1. Agile doesn’t define any of the things you list except maybe Customer Feedback. Good luck finding the others in the manifesto. Even if you are talking about Scrum specifically it only talks about Scrum Master, Backlog, Sprint Review and Sprint. Some how you are making the case that “agile” and “lean startup” are mutually exclusive. However, they are largely compatible. Agile tends to target software development, Lean Startup tends to target business development/product management/customer development. Yes there is some overlap, but curious why you think there is not.

  2. Luca Minudel says:

    Once I realized that this post compare your own definition of Agile with you own definition of Lean Startup I’ve found the post more clear to me.

    I repeated the exercise with my own definitions of Agile and Lean Startup and I’ve noticed less differences. When looking at Agile since the beginning I focused a lot on unknowns uncertainties and unanticipated events. Lean Startup made clear for me that it is related to the context, to what I’ve learn from it is to adapt my approach taking into account the specific context.

  3. My team and I have implemented elements of Scrum and Lean Startup in our project development. I think they are complementary rather than mutually exclusive. I also don’t think that either approach is independently as strong as a mesh of the two.

  4. […] an early adopter of eXtreme Programming and successful entrepreneur, published an article “Agile vs. Lean Startup”. He says, “[Lean Startup] rocks. It rocks far more than Agile.” If it rocks far more than […]

  5. John Behrens says:

    Looking forward to other great compares from that series like “Apples vs. Bannanas” and “Hammer vs. Screw Driver” or “The Simpsons vs. German News Tagesschau”

    Lean Startup and Agile/Scrum have some different purpose.
    Agile Development targets how to do while lean startup targets of what to do.

    Both techniques can be perfectly combined,
    for example one week sprints of your agile team generating mvp´s or features for a one week split test.
    After 1 week you will have the split test results integrated to your planning meeting.
    So Agile Sprint implements the BUILD of your build-measure-learn cycle.
    Results of measure and learn will be influence the agile planning.

  6. […] I have found some novel ideas when comparing Agile and Lean Startup techniques. In his blog post “Agile Vs. Lean Startup”, Joshua Kerievsky distill the differences between these techniques. You can also watch his […]

  7. Louis-Philippe says:

    Just a slight typo in the Lean Startup column. It’s “Build-Measure-Learn”.

    Do you have a blog post about the Customer Success Manager description? Googling the job description made me feel it is about a post-sale role but I’ve got a feeling you meant more than that. Any thoughts or link on this topic?

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