The BackStory:



I am deeply inspired by Eric Ries’ Lean Startup approach.

It is lucid, pragmatic and accessible on how to bring a valuable, viable concept into the world.

But as a designer I found something disconcerting :


| 8 out of 10 startups fail within the first 18 months. A whopping 80% crash and burn


Read the full article from Forbes : here

So if the process works, why are there such high failure rates ?

Doesn’t this suggest something essential is missing in the process ?

Here’s the # 1 reason from the same article.


| Not Really In Touch, With Customers Thru Deep Dialogue.


Paul Graham, one of my all time favourite reads says this beautifully :

| The verb you want to be using with respect to startup ideas is not “think up” but “notice.”

Said simply, it means pointing the arrow of attention away from myself as an entrepreneur and towards you,my customer.


On Initial Conditions :


I’m a believer in organic systems ( which for me is the same as complex systems )

One of the core behaviours of complex systems is,


that slight variances in the initial conditions,


can create a enormous range of different outcomes.

Commonly known as the Butterfly Effect.


If an entrepreneurial system is a complex system,


and my belief is that it is,


it’s initial conditions are hugely important.

| One of the initial conditions is whether you have a problem worth solving.

Think of an idea as a seed.

I believe it matters whether you throw the seed.

If you throw it into a soil that is prepared to receive it,

(your customers want and need what you offer )

You can expect  a rich harvest.

If you throw it into a soil that is barren

( i.e. your customers don’t want or need what you offer )

No amount of “pivoting” will make it a harvest.

Instead, study the soil.

The French have the notion of ” Terroir”  pronounced Teh-wah.

Loosely translated it a “sense of a place” its characteristic qualities.

And most importantly, the sum of effects the environment has on the production of the product.

If you intend to make world-class wine, you need to know which soil to plant it.

Study the soil.

The Story :

This is where my colleague Neelam and me starting thinking about a more complete approach for startups.

( incidentally this approach is intended to design interventions into Big Systems like healthcare ,


more on that in another post )

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