Blog-a-Book #1 – by KK Tse

[Blog 01] Lean Startup for Social Impact

March 8, 2017

KK Tse

Strategies for New and Established Businesses to Change the World

Dear readers,

Thank you for joining this journey to create this book with you. Yes, we are going to co-create this book because your feedback and input will ensure that the book will be highly relevant and useful to those who care about the future of our society and would like to change the world for the better.

In this blog, I will try to explain a number of things:

1.  What I intend to cover in the book

2.  Why I think this book will be relevant and useful to you

3.  How I am going to write this book

1.  What will be covered in the book

Let’s begin with the key words in the title:

  • Lean Startup

  • Social Impact

  • New and Established Businesses

Lean startup

You may or may not have heard of Lean Startup. But I could tell you that it is must-master methodology if you are interested in creating social impact and changing the world.

The term Lean Startup became visible and popular only since 2011 when the first book on the subject was published: The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries (London: Portfolio Penguin, 2011).

Since then it has become a global movement. You could find out more about what’s happening in this rapidly growing field from this website: http://theleanstartup.com/

We all know that the failure rate of startup is very high, easily 80-90%. But if you successfully apply the lean startup methodology in your startup, the success rate could be as high as 60-70%. That’s the potential power and benefit of learning and mastering this methodology.

What is more, the lean startup approach is not only applicable to new startups, but could be used for established businesses (large or small) in developing new products and services. Further, the approach can be used not only for for-profit businesses, but equally applicable to NGOs, social enterprises, government departments, schools and universities, etc.

So the primary focus of this book will be to introduce the concept, principles, and skills in mastering the lean startup methodology.

Social impact

The lean startup is powerful. No doubt about it. But who are using it and for what purposes? Up to this moment, the lean startup approach has been used by for-profit businesses. Nothing wrong about it as such. But it is far more desirable and beneficial to the world if it can be used by social-purpose organizations, such as social enterprises, NGOs, etc. But unfortunately, this is not happening yet. Why?

The answer is simple. Although it is not particularly hard to learn and master the lean startup methodology, it requires more than simply reading a couple of books or watching some videos. For most people, it requires some systematic training and coaching. But who could provide the training and coaching? Currently, only a small number of training consultants are doing it and they are concentrated in a small number of metropolitan cities in the developed world. They are charging high fees for their service. As a result, they are only serving established businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs who are ready to pay for the service in anticipation of major return.

There are hardly any training consultants who are providing similar service to social-purpose organizations. You might call this market failure. But it remains a fact that organizations and individuals who want to create social impact might not have the opportunity to learn and master this methodology.

In Hong Kong, Education for Good is the only organization providing training and coaching to social enterprises and NGOs in harnessing the lean startup approach to launch new ventures and revamp existing services. We have also teamed up with NPI (which stands for Non-profit Incubator) in mainland China to introduce the methodology to social-purpose organizations through training programs in Hong Kong and China. But we need a strategy to make it more accessible to organizations which are keen to create social impact. This is what we intend to explore in this book.

Hence the central theme of the book: harnessing the lean startup approach to make it easier and more effective for social-purpose organizations to create social impact.

New and established businesses

I deliberately highlight both new and established businesses. For some good reasons.

First, the lean startup approach is useful for launching brand new businesses.

Second, this approach could also be profitably used by established businesses (or any organizations) to develop new products, services, or new businesses.

Third, one of the greatest opportunities for lean startup for social impact is for established mainstream businesses to launch new business ventures that could create positive impact on society.

This ties nicely to the rising B Corp movement. In this global movement, we are witnessing a growing number of mainstream businesses transforming themselves into B Corps. This is most encouraging, and the momentum is growing. But for many established businesses, especially the larger groups of companies, making the transition is a long and complicated process.  One strategy that these businesses could adopt is to set up new businesses that build on the core competencies of the parent company but focus on creating social impact. For this purpose, they could harness the power for lean startup.

In the book, we will argue that all mainstream businesses should consider launching new businesses for social good. Whether or not they will eventually become certified B Corps is not important. The lean startup approach will greatly facilitate this effort.

2.  Why I think this book will be relevant and useful to you

Please consider the following:

a)  If you are keen to harness business to create social impact, learn and master the lean startup methodology.

b)  Once you have mastered it, you could either use it to launch your own social ventures or propose to your employer to set up a new business that could address some burning social and/or environmental issues; you do not have to quit your job, but you could play a different role.

c)  For young people who would like to seek meaning in their working career, you should invest time and effort to learn and master the lean startup approach so that you could either create your own business, or contribute to the success of new ventures that are creating social impact.

3.  How I am going to write this book

I have written more than ten books in my life. This will be the most important one by far. And I will write in a radically different way.

The tentative publication date of the book will be April 2, 2018. Before that date I will release the contents of the book via this blog. You as reader could comment on any part of the book, make suggestions to me on contents, style of presentation, depth/breadth, or any aspects that you think could make the book better. I do not guarantee that I will accept all your suggestions, but I promise that I will consider them seriously.

I have roughly 50% of the book in draft form already. Some have already been published in different media. But they will be refined and integrated before final publication.

I have one other great reason to write this book in this way. And this is a very important reason. You might say it is innovative as well. I would agree. But it will also be very challenging.

As you could tell from the above that the major focus of the book will be the lean startup methodology. In the book, there will be a real life case study that will be unfolding at the same time as the book is written.

Education for Good and Dialogue Experience (the company which brought Dialogue in the Dark to Hong Kong) have just set up a joint venture to develop a new business – Inclusive Sport. Naturally, we will be using the lean startup approach. I will be sharing with the readers how the project will proceed, from building and training the startup team, using the lean startup approach to create the lean canvas, designing and testing MVPs (minimum viable products), finding the paying customers, creating channels to market our products, determining pricing strategies, raising capital, managing cash flow, building the operating team, etc. etc.

You may think of it as a Reality Show. The purpose is to bring the lean startup approach to life and show how it works (or not work). I am sure you will find it educational, entertaining, and exciting.

I said above that using the lean startup approach might give you a success rate of 60-70%. This guestimate might not mean anything. But it remains true that there are chances that we might fail. If we do fail, there might be some good lessons for all of us too.

Anyway, I am thrilled to have you accompanying me in this journey.

Blog logistics

As I have never done anything like this before, let’s feel our way to cross the river.

Here are the initial ground rules, which might change over time.

  1. I will publish at least one to two blogs every month.

  2. Please feel free to circulate to your friends as it is a public release. But please don’t publish   it in any form without my formal consent.

  3. If you have any feedback, please send it to my personal email kakuitse@gmail.com

  4. If you want to unsubscribe, just send me a note.

  5. If you want to recommend it to anyone, please ask them to send their email address to me.

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