Trial, Error, Iteration

Two of the most valuable skills I’ve learned so far in the Design Thinking module is how to operate within the lean startup method (Ries, 2011) and how to use the lean canvas (Maurya, 2012), which is a variation of the business model canvas we’ve been using in the Managing a Creative Business module. One of the key distinguishing features of the lean startup method is its emphasis on iteration. In order to tailor a product or service for success, a company has to go through the “build-measure-learn feedback loop” as many times as possible or as many times as needed. This feedback loop is a cycle composed of three steps: building from ideas, measuring the product, and learning from the data. To be able to go through this process as many times as possible a company has to create minimum viable products (MVPs) that can be taken to the consumers quickly. MVPs are different than prototypes in that they are something that the customer should be able to use, even if it doesn’t have all the functions that the final product will. The iteration of the feedback loop and the building of MVPs are key factors of the lean startup method that can lead to a company’s success in giving consumers what they truly want, which relates to the human-centered approach of design thinking.

My team took this idea of iteration and applied it to our brainstorming process and the lean canvas. The lean canvas is derived from the business model canvas so some of its components are the same and some are different. The components that both canvases share are: customer segment, channels, value proposition, cost structure, and revenue streams. However, instead of having customer relationships, key activities, key partners, and key resources, the lean canvas has the sections: unfair advantage, key metrics, problem, and solution.

Whenever we had an idea that we liked, my team would map it out on the lean canvas in order to determine its feasibility. We would start with a problem that we wanted to address and then put various solutions (using color-coded sticky notes) on the lean canvas in order to discover which of the solutions had better points under the sections of value proposition, unfair advantage, customer segment, channels, key metrics, cost structure, and revenue streams. By doing this we were able to contrast and compare many problems and solutions before deciding on the product that we wanted to stick with for our final project. It is important to go through all the sections of the lean canvas in order to determine a product’s viability so that there are less unforeseen problems down the line of the startup process. However, we discovered that it’s best to start with the sections problem, solution, value proposition, unfair advantage, and customer segment because a lot of our ideas never made it past our evaluation under these sections. Trial and error and iteration are key learning processes to the lean startup method.   


Ries, E (2011). The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses. London: Portfolio Penguin.

Maurya, A (2012). Why Lean Canvas vs Business Model Canvas. Available at: (Accessed: 3 January 2019)


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