Tracking Lean Startup experiments

Here are a few tools you can check out for tracking Lean Startup experiments. This is a very common question from both my work with startups through the Lean Accelerator as well as from big companies learning rapid prototyping/testing at General Assembly.

1) Trello – This essentially allows you to stack “cards” in columns and add comments. Each “card” is a specific experiment. Cards can be tagged, grouped, notated, assigned, etc. Columns are generally “Backlog” for all generated ideas, “In Progress” for ideas being tested, and “Completed” for tests that are finished. Key agile principle here is that you cap the “In Progress” column at a limited number of cards, forcing experiments to get finished before new ones begin. All for free! This is the tool I most often recommend if I’m starting from scratch. However, large, existing organization normally already have a variety of tools and might not want to add to the load.

2) WhichTestWon – This is a repository of real life tests! There are many ways of finding tests, including groups and a search bar. It is basically a generic news website or blog. You can see how individual tests are recorded – There are normally screenshots, the hypothesis, the test and the results, plus room for comments.

3) Google Docs/Dropbox – If the team is already sharing files and wants a real lightweight solution, then you can agree on a common format for the experiments (like on whichtestwon), record tests and results in word docs, and then store in a central location. Google Docs is convenient cause it is shareable. Similar story for Evernote if you use that tool. This solution is what I most often recommend for teams that already have lots of software tools, some of which they may not use… It is very simple to get started and just requires a common format. Here’s an example from WhichTestWon, mostly for inspiration, cause I don’t love the design.

On a similar note, if you’d like to see what it looks like when the theory of class gets translated into the everyday of real life, I’ve included a pre-release chapter of my new book (Lean Accelerator Intro). Go to p. 12 (PDF p. 20) for a description of how I asked startup teams I worked with to record their experiments. And then you can see how they actually did it!

Some additional resources (although I do think these get overly jargony and aren’t really necessary to run and track good experiments)

Good luck! Definitely let me know if you find a system that works for you.


Posted in Class follow-up, Lean Startup, Testing ideas in the real world

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