How social entrepreneurs can use lean startup principles for better impact

The lean approach offers practical tips and creative organisational mindsets for rapid learning and prototyping, according to Michel Gelobter, in his new book, ‘Lean Startups for Social Change: The Revolutionary Path to Big Impact.’

Michel is the founder of green energy solutions firm Cooler Solutions, and has been a climate strategist for over 25 years. He was co-founder of BuildingEnergy.com and Chief Green Officer of Hara Software, a Kleiner-Perkins portfolio company. Michel helped form the Climate Justice Corps to train youth in climate activism, and founded the Environmental Policy Program at Columbia University and the Environment and Energy Track at Singularity University.

The book’s foreword is by Steve Blank, one of the pioneers of the customer development process. “A thriving culture of lean within the impact entrepreneur and founder communities could accelerate social change by removing taboos around experimentation and failure,” adds Christie George, director of New Media Venture (NMV), in another introductory note to the book. NMV’s digital news startup Upworthy famously tests 25 different headlines for each article, before finding out which draws the most audience.

The early approach to many social enterprises was ‘Plan, Fund, Do.’ Instead, the lean startup mantra of ‘Build, Measure, Learn’ encourages founders to conduct small experiments, quickly get real-world feedback on them, and use that data to expand only on what works.

Successful exemplars are WorldReader (which moved from print book donation in Africa to e-readers), as compared to other struggling initiatives like One Laptop Per Child (rugged laptops which have been superseded in many markets by mobiles).

Read more here.

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