Developing Business Models, the Lean Startup Way — A Way Out of German “Happy OverEngineering”?

An introduction for tech- and engineering-driven companies residing in the D.A.CH. area

Why another article series on the basics of Lean Startup?

This is a translation of my German intro article series, which I originally wrote for engineering-heavy companies in the D.A.CH. region as there only existed profound English but not German intro articles on Lean Startup, which I could share with people interested in the topic. By request of some clients, I have now also translated this article into English. Enjoy!

Over the past 20 years, I have had the privilege of working with a wide range of companies. From startups to DAX companies, it’s been everything. What I have always found most enriching is working with solid German technology companies – environments where people are still really “building something.” I admire the creative potential and technical skills that our still well-trained German engineers have. I also find the dedication with which they search for technically and ecologically sustainable solutions so admirable and worthy of support that we at co:dify try to work almost exclusively for engineering-driven (cleantech) companies that now have to bring together hardware and software in product-service business models. This collaboration is fun, “on mission,” and fills us at co:dify with purpose.

At the same time, however, we are repeatedly frustrated – or shall I say, in some cases appalled – to observe the antiquated management approaches according to which said companies in Germany still operate in large parts. Keywords: Waterfall, top-down command-control, lacking team diversity, strategy development as planning, etc. This not only leads to frustration and a waste of talent among increasingly competitive employees but also to expensive technological misdevelopments and the permanent missing of market opportunities .

Technological incompetence is rarely responsible for this. The problems often lie more in the lack of market development and commercialization know-how and the use of sometimes extremely outdated strategy and market development methods in the ranks of the management of these companies . In my opinion, this outdated management is also one of the reasons why Germany is falling further and further behind in international competition. Of course, there are many factors, including macroeconomic and political ones, that are responsible for the decline in competitiveness. In the following, I will therefore focus only on the effects of a narrow techno-centric mindset coupled with the ever-present déformations professionnelles that top decision-makers and (junior) executives with their homogeneous professional and academic backgrounds bring to the picture of the creeping decline of their industry. In particular, I focus on the phenomenon that we in Germany like to “improve the thing” instead of “the customer’s situation” and describe in this “Lean Startup for Beginners” series of articles the methodology of the same name that has become prominent in the last 15 years, which shows a possible way to counterbalance this tendency. Oh, and I’m also writing it because I’ve always found German-language blog posts on the topic that I’ve come across too superficial. Let’s see if I manage to break down the topic better … [ continue reading … ]

More Infos
Naudé, W., & Nagler, P. (2021). The Rise and Fall of German Innovation (SSRN Scholarly Paper ID 3798907). Social Science Research Network.
Pohl, P., Kempermann, H., & Bertelsmann Stiftung. (2019). Innovative Milieus: Die Innovationsfähigkeit deutscher Unternehmen. Produktivität Für Inklusives Wachstum.

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