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How to Use Lean Startup in a Very Big Organisation

About the Video

While at the Lean Startup Conference in December 2014 (an excellent event), I had the pleasure of attending a session by Susana Jurado and Maria Olana from Telephonica. They talked us through how they have introduced Lean Startup at Telephonica – with great success. The Lean Startup movement is making significant inroads in the enterprise – in companies like Telephonica, GE, Intuit and Toyota.

To quote from their whitepaper:

Traditional telco business served a well-defined need that consisted in person to person remote communications which later extended to machine communication. Today we are in a completely different universe. Digital ecosystems have radically shifted the well-established paradigms enabling endless possibilities, adding extra layers of richness and complexity and dramatically accelerating products timescale. Users and machines all over the world are hungry for new products and services at an increasingly high pace, to serve them effectively Telefonica has embraced the Digital Telco strategy.

To create new digital telco businesses in a turbulent context we have to lead and build a sophisticated capacity for continuous learning. It is people who learn and lead no one else, so the only way is to unleash people’s talent. The organization has to evolve from hierarchical, verticalised and process- centred to talent-driven, where people take the responsibility and are empowered to propose, defend and execute innovation projects with autonomy.

Under those circumstances we have experienced a way to address the innovation challenge: start with small initiatives, be ready to make mistakes, learn along the way and constantly improve how things are done. All this requires a deep cultural transformation and a totally new environment to foster innovation; none of these happens magically overnight.

Lean Startup entrepreneurs start small, aim high, fail cheap and fast and, most importantly, learn as much as possible and close the feedback loop thus accelerating the way to success for the whole organization. Most of the projects die spending just few resources but some will survive to disrupt the industry and create exponential growth. Therefore Lean Startup has offered us a good tool to apply these practices to innovation projects in a big corporation like Telefonica.


Lean Startup practices encourage the teams to be their own critics because decisions are made by the team based not on arbitrary milestones but on market validation and ability to demonstrate the validity of key assumptions. This is a great tool to avoid the dangers of “innovation by committee” and helps identify opinions as such.

Design solutions that shatter assumptions, delight customers, and define growth possibilities sustainably

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