Lean Innovation

/liːn ˌɪn.əˈveɪ.ʃən/

A combination of discovery, creation, and value delivery approaches in an organization’s innovation process. The goal is to reduce ‘waste’ in the pipeline of new business exploration projects. To name but a few examples of waste in this context: untested customer/problem/value proposition or business model assumptions, insufficient validation of prototypes/experiments with customers, or, even carrying forward political and zombie projects. Usually, three main methodologies are used in lean innovation: design thinking, Lean Startup, and ‘Lean processes’. 

Marion Tucker summarizes ‘Lean Innovation’ as the ability of an organization to “identify new opportunities through the use of design thinking […]; the ability to quickly, and with fewer resources, develop, prototype, learn, validate, and improve business solutions [via Lean Startup]”; and finally the “ability to apply lean processes [[author’s note: here: beyond just TQM, Six Sigma, etc.]], which enable teams to reduce waste, make incremental improvements, and eliminate the bureaucracy that often hinders innovation” .

Another influential proponent of the concept, Steve Blank, says: “Lean Innovation management combines [the] Three Horizons of Innovation with the Lean Startup to deliver an Ambidextrous Organization.

In summary, this means that at a process level Lean Innovation is all about fast learning (cycles), while at an organizational level it is about the creation of an environment — or innovation system — that enables this way of working.


Tucker, J. M. (2017). Making Lean Innovation Work. CIMS Managment Report. https://cims.ncsu.edu/cims_newsletter/januaryfebruary-2/innovation-management-making-lean-innovation-work/
Blank, S. (2017, September 14). Steve Blank How companies strangle innovation – and how you can get it right. Steve Blank. https://steveblank.com/2017/09/14/how-companies-strangle-innovation/
Blank, S. (2015, June 26). Steve Blank Lean Innovation Management – Making Corporate Innovation Work. Steve Blank. https://steveblank.com/2015/06/26/lean-innovation-management-making-corporate-innovation-work/