Today was spent leaning. In the morning Abby Fichtner (@HackerChick), Startup Evangelist (I’m pretty sure that’s her actual title) taught us the basics of lean methodology as it is applied to startups. While the concept of lean has been present in manufacturing for decades, its application to startups and the startup ecosystem is a relatively new development. Books such as Eric Ries’ “The Lean Startup” have helped countless entrepreneurs decrease their development risk, while speeding them toward the market. Abby led the class through an outstanding exercise in determining the fastest path forward for our “big ideas”, and left us (gratefully) wondering what the next steps should have been. But this wasn’t the only ‘lean’ learning that happened.
In the afternoon, Evan Morikawa (@E0M… that’s a zero, FYI) showed us another meaning of lean. In the space of a few short hours, Evan led the class through a coding exercise including the installation and exercise of Github, along with a crash-course in HTML/CSS. For many (myself included) this was one of the first forays into the ones and zeroes behind what makes the internet tick, and was a great reminder that no matter how much of a “rock star” you are in your chosen field, there’s always another skill in which you can’t hope to measure up. It doesn’t mean that you can’t learn, or that you’re not passionate, but recognizing your weak points (“what do you suck at?”) and embracing them is very important. Not only does this recognition keep you from being underprepared and overconfident, it also motivates you to seek out and ‘lean’ on those with the skills you lack. If our marshmallow towers taught us one thing, it’s that one piece of spaghetti cannot stand alone, and it certainly isn’t going to win any prizes. By leaning on one another, our strengths are magnified, and our weaknesses diminish.