IDEO's View of the Lean Startup Movement

Posted by Trevor Owens on

This is my interview with Ryan Jacoby, head of IDEO NY. IDEO, founded in 1991, is a pioneer of several of the practices at the core of Lean Startup. Prototyping, iteration, and investing a little to learn a lot, are in no way new to them. As such, IDEO is very receptive to seeing these practices become applied broadly across more disciplines and having the tools by which innovation experiments are run become more advanced and less costly. Last week, IDEO hosted Eric Ries's NYC book launch with a fireside chat between Ryan & Eric. It was an awesome event and interesting to juxtapose the launch of Eric's cure for innovation-deficit with the two decades tradition of design-thinking at IDEO. An interesting comment in the discussion was when Eric pointed out that our leading corporations, whether working with IDEO or acquiring a startup, don't understand how to tell the difference between a product that's about to take-off or about to burn-out. Noting the number of failed internal innovation projects and client proposals that go un-implemented. Even the world's best investors have the same difficulty Eric pins to corporations. For example, while Peter Thiel was the lead in Facebook's first round, he did not invest in it's second round of funding. At the conclusion of the event, Ryan was poignant to point out how Eric's movement is no different than a startup and ask as a serial entrepreneur what Eric's next move would be. Eric admitted it was too early for him to know the answer. IDEO's Advice for Founders Ryan's active in the NYC startup community and holds office hours with General Assembly and TechStars. In our interview, Ryan cautions founders to make sure they get out of the building (GOOB) and that running split-tests and other quantitative tests are not enough. As the connection between empathy and innovation is the focus of IDEO's philosophy, Ryan discounts the ability to connect with customers from behind the computer screen. Final Thoughts Ryan's expressed his excitement for the development of new tools that will make innovation more accessible to everyone. To follow Ryan's thoughts check out his blog do_matic at and follow him on Twitter (