The difference between knowing how something works and actually doing it yourself is a natural process we must face if we want to acquire new skills. Just as there is a difference between reading, “How to Fly an Airplane for Dummies” and piloting an actual aircraft, there is a difference between learning about how to launch a new startup idea and actually doing it.
Last night at NanoLabs, we mixed things up and decided we would play a board game. Not just any board game, but the Lean Startup game, “Playing Lean.” As the creators put it, “Playing Lean is a flight simulator for innovation and Lean Startup.”
In effect, just as a flight simulator provides practical experience without the real-world risk, Playing Lean provides an environment for mastering the concepts of the Lean Startup without losing real money or (much) time. Quite an attractive exercise for the entrepreneur!
This approach of simulating a startup was something new for all participants and many useful lessons were derived from it. For example, the importance of investing in the long-term (in this case, roughly 90 minutes into the future) became a clear advantage in acquiring additional customer segments throughout the game which was needed to be crowned champions.
While one obviously doesn’t walk away from the game ready to launch a startup, what the game does extraordinarily well is make apparent the different ways to allocate your resources, as well as the various strategies, variables, and luck of the draw that is involved in achieving your goals.