Lean Startup in the Enterprise  – Prepare For A Bumpy Road


Applying Lean Startup seems to be the magic formula for innovation success in the enterprise, as we hear about it a lot. But do we actually know what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to applying Lean Startup in established companies?

To answer these important questions we talked with experts who work with big companies, as well as innovation practitioners from within these organizations – both applying the Lean Startup methodology. You can find their profiles at the end of article.

Sanity Check First: Going Lean?

Before you apply Lean Startup to an idea or a project, it is important to determine if it fits the methodology, or better said – will Lean Startup help?

Before helping teams apply lean principles, Tristan Kromer asks if the environment is correct:

“There’s some aspect of lean methodology that can be utilized effectively. But, in some cases, the environment makes it difficult if not impossible.

I certainly would never suggest using the Lean Startup methodology if you don’t have the buy-in and agreement inside the organization to allow you to do that.

It does not help to have a rogue team in a corporation, throwing up landing pages in front of customers without anyone else in the corporation being aware that that’s occurring.

If the team is using the company’s brand on unproven or non-existent products that add legal liability or governance risk to the company, the company’s brand may be damaged and the career prospects of any team members may be similarly at risk.

I always recommend understanding the corporate and industry environment instead of using those methodologies haphazardly. There are many ways to mitigate risks such as brand damage. But you need a strong business sponsor and an environment which is accepting of that type of potential ‘failure’.”

To check if an enterprise has the right environment, Tristan makes sure that he not only talks with the team or the person that approached him for help, but also checks who is providing the budget, and then he assess the level of support that the team would get throughout the process.

Craig Wirkus, Innovation Program Manager at Cisco, says that the Lean Startup as a tool can be used in H1, H2 and H3 (you can read more about the three horizons here) but not necessarily in the same way:

“If it’s an incremental change you can still very quickly find out if the customer, the problem, and the solution are there. And you can do it in a way that costs you very little money using MVP’s.  You’re probably not going to do things like cost of customer acquisition or create reverse income statements.  

H2’s and H3’s, though, I would say require that kind of (Lean Startup) rigor, and that’s because if you just waterfall a project and never talk to a customer, that’s how hundreds of millions of dollars are burned and careers are lost.”

Andy, founder of Lean Ventures, reinforces the above view:

“Although you could probably apply Lean Startup in projects that are stuck in an incremental Kaizen warp where they’re trying to squeeze out another dime on the dollar, Lean Startup is more suited to highly explorative environments where you’re searching for what’s the right thing to build, and not just incrementally trying to find better ways of building what you’re already building.

Lean Startup is for creating new markets or disrupting existing one’s, it’s not meant for incremental improvements or Six Sigma environments. Let’s not forget that the driver behind most Lean Startups is a compelling vision of how to change the future, and not how to squeeze out a 2% efficiency improvement on the factory floor.”

Sonja Kresojevic, senior VP of Global Product Lifecycle at Pearson, explains that the beauty of Lean Startup lies in its adaptability

At Pearson, Sonja helped to develop a new framework that looks at what they call: ‘the left side’, which is early stage innovation, and ‘the right side’, which is business as usual processes. In Pearson they apply Lean and Agile principles to both:

“We have developed a set of criteria that we use to evaluate the investment, so when product teams have an idea, they submit that idea to a Product Council who use the framework to evaluate the idea and make an investment decision. And obviously the criteria used in early stage investment are very different; you care about a very different set of KPI’s. It’s all very data and evidence driven, you look at early business models and it’s all based on the build, measure, learn cycles.

But we’ve also worked hard to look at which of the Lean Startup principles apply to existing products, so that we ensure teams continue to experiment, continue to connect learnings to growth hypothesis so that we can distinguish where we need to continue to invest in products and where we need to sustain and retire them. And you know, as a business, ensuring that this methodology works with existing business processes was critical for us.”

Based on UC Berkely “Lean Startup Methodology for Enterprises”, you can ask yourself these 5 questions:

  1. Are we looking at an idea that requires a discovery of a new business model?
  2. Are the customers unknown?
  3. Are we dealing with an idea that has a different/conflicting business alignment?
  4. Are the resources needed at risk?
  5. Is the market new/untested (for the company)?

Add to these the following considerations:

  1. Does the environment in the enterprise support the Lean Startup Methodology? (e.g.: what does the finance department have to say?)
  2. Would applying lean principles help in (substantially) reducing time and costs?
  3. Do you have a clear framework that divides H1, H2, and H3 related projects?

If you answered YES to all these questions your answer is: to lean!

Before You Embark On The Journey…

Now, before you start the adventure, take some time to understand the environment.

Let’s see what mistakes are often made with implementation, and explore what is not the right context for successful implementation.


Equating H2 or H3 with H1

“The moment that you put H2 or H3 next to a ‘run the business project’ it’s going to be a clear loser, because you can’t predict ROI, you have no idea what the market size is. Everything about it is an unfair test.”

According to Craig, applying the same expectations and metrics that you use in H1 to projects in H2 and H3 simply doesn’t work. You need to ask yourself in which horizon your project falls, and how can you create different measures for it.


Talking to executives using the wrong terminology

Sonja: “When you go and tell executives that you want to implement ‘Lean Startup’ they don’t necessarily understand what you mean. If you said instead that we’re going to use this type of methodology or principles to solve these business problems, they get it.”

Use the right language and put things in the right context – explain how applying Lean Startup would help in solving a certain problem that executives care about. If you cannot get your message across, you can be sure that you either won’t get the approval to go ahead, or there will be a big mismatch in expectations later on.


Hiring (the wrong) consultants

Craig says that from his experience at Cisco, hiring external consultants should be done carefully. Avoid the ones that have their own heavily copy-written and licensed templates to work with as that makes adoption costly and bottlenecked:

“If you choose to work with consultants to develop your incubation program templates then be sure to leverage open source or unlicensed templates. This ensures that you can readily share them and adoption can happen at a pace not dictated by your budget spent on paying for the licensing costs.”

For example, when Andy helps a company he builds an ‘innovation academy’ for them, which is made of all materials that he generated, to be shared throughout the entire organization so that they can start building on top of that themselves.

When you are considering to hire external consultants check their references, what projects have they done, their style (e.g. do they have any copy-written/licensed material) but also give consultants the option to see through the whole project. One common criticism from our experts is that companies put limitations (e.g.: time, budget, size) that hinder innovation projects.

The person who leads the Lean Startup movement in your company is essential, so take time and care to look into that.


Focusing on the wrong projects


“You don’t want your employees innovating about cafeteria food or parking spots…there’s a bunch of noise that they can work on, so one of the jobs of leaders within a corporation is to identify the strategic hunting grounds. Innovation portfolio managers should develop three horizons for each strategic priority and then select / incubate projects congruent with those ratios.  Employees can still incubate projects outside that scope but until they can prove some efficacy to their ideas support should not be unquestionably given.”

Vincent Thamm, Innovation Manager at Transavia Airlines:

“Projects that are mainly related to purchasing new system, off-the-shelf packages of, for instance, a CRM system, are hard to apply the Lean Startup principals to. It’s more about how you work with the team, how you share progress, how you validate the first MVP, but it’s tough.”

It is important to have a filtering system for ideas and projects, and know what you need.


Focusing only on one solution

Some companies feel that they can implement Lean Startup via one channel. But Craig warns you:

“Having a workshop – not good enough, having an acceleration program – not good enough…any one thing is not going to do the trick. Be sure to build an holistic change management approach to driving out adoption.”


No defined innovation strategy

Andy gave an example of a recent occasion that illustrates this problem. He worked with a client who had to find new business models to offset the challenges that they were facing from open data legislation (what the client could once charge for, was now freely accessible to anyone).

“My mission on this project was to introduce the tools and methods of Lean Startup and business modeling to get them to explore new avenues of growth. Unfortunately, in this particular case we didn’t start by defining the overall innovation strategy. Instead we just jumped straight into tools and methods. Not ideal, but as a hired gun you have to work with what your client gives you.”

Before starting to choose which tools and methods are appropriate, you need to ask if there is a measurable innovation strategy, its purpose and how it is aligned with the overall business strategy. Basically, it is difficult to steer a boat when you don’t know which harbor to aim for.


“Leaning” in Isolation

Andy: “Unfortunately, I seldom see well-though out and effective programs in companies that I visit.”

Often the issue is that innovation is kept in a little corner, or companies encourage innovation, through coaching, hackathons, etc., but then fail to see through an idea until the final stages.

Sonja confirms this problem:

“If you incubate innovation in a very small part of the business, you know as soon as you have a good idea that is mature enough, that you try to go through the ‘businesses as usual’ team, it’s going to fail at some point because you have a complete split then in terms of philosophy, ways of working, and how you approach things.”

If innovation is not there to rule, and if there is no constant support for being lean, you cannot expect to see substantial and long-lasting changes, and of course it may then seem that applying Lean Startup simply doesn’t work.

Prepare carefully and wisely…

After figuring out these essential hygiene factors, let’s explore how can you best prepare for the bumpy road ahead.


Getting the right team

All our interviewees agreed that successful teams are diverse teams – in skills, position, and even nationalities and gender.

Anything that adds a difference in perspective is almost certainly going to help you.”

Tristan explains that diversity is key because it helps us deal with our blind spots:

“One of our biggest problems, as entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs, is that we have blind spots, we all have them. And by definition, we cannot see our own blind spots; it takes somebody else with a different perspective. So if you have a team and it’s made of five white male engineers in their twenties it’s less likely to work as well as a diverse team consisting of men, and women, engineers and designers, multi-national, and racially diverse. Any little bit of diversity is going to approach problems with a different mindset and toolset for a better overall solution.”

Besides having a healthy composition of diverse and cross-functional teams, Andy recommends to scout for the entrepreneurial employees to form them:

“It’s far more efficient to focus your efforts on identifying those who already are motivated by risk taking, failing and learning, and to help those individuals by instilling a purpose that they can rally behind and the autonomy, tools and skills that they need in order to turn innovation from simple lip service into reality.”

Tristan gives a good and quick tip on how to identify the more entrepreneurially oriented staff:

You can have an innovation challenge, a hackathon, or even just say ‘I have five free books about Lean Startup,’ and the first people to email you are probably the ones who are inspired to learn more.

Sonja adds on the importance of letting the team own the product from idea to launch. It is always a good idea to keep at least one person from when the team was formed until the project ends.

At Transavia they are already doing that and Vincent explains how:

“We have a ‘product owner’ who is part of the development team, and they are responsible for translating the value proposition to development work. We also have an ‘epic owner’ who owns the idea, for example the product manager, and who stays with the team from idea to implementation.”

In terms of team size, most agree that small teams preform better, as they make communication and decision-making faster. Craig recommends 2-4 members, and Andy advises to (preferably) have no more than seven people on the team.


Clear rules of engagement

Our practitioners and experts put a lot of emphasis on defining stages of development, assigning the right KPI’s for every stage, and giving clear guidelines for employees to follow. Craig puts the task at hand well: “demystify what you are supposed to do”. In practice, what they do in Cisco to demystify “innovation”, is:

“Our Innovation Funding Board (IFB) framework uses an Implementation Readiness Level (IRL), which consists of 9 milestones in the lifecycle of an incubating idea, that are congruent with Lean Startup and Discovery Driven Planning.  This approach gamifies how to incubate ideas for the incubation teams and clearly shows to the IFB where in the lifecycle the idea currently is. 

As teams do the work needed to move between IRL levels, we monitor the Lean Startup behaviors in order to ensure that they are living up to the customer validated learning approaches.  Coaches / mentors (technical, business and incubation) help the teams navigate those waters as well.  Our templates start off low fidelity and increase in fidelity as the incubation teams move up the IRL.

The funding boards dole out small tranches of funding and the teams enjoy autonomy as long as they live up to the best of class behaviors and don’t need additional support. We are still learning how to do all of this well, but making progress.”

At Transavia, Vincent helps to manage a portfolio, where they define four crucial stages: 1. Idea phase, which includes: finding the real customer problem, ideation, and validating the solution. 2. Analysis phase, where internal or external consultants make an in-depth analysis of the idea from a business and IT perspective. 3. Development phase. 4. Improvement phase, where the focus is on continuous improvement.

At Pearson they have six stages of the product lifecycle journey: 1. Ideation. 2. Exploration. 3. Validation (their version of building an MVP). 4. Growth. 5. Sustaining the business. 6. Retiring.

“Each of the stages has a set of rules, and behaviors and principles that you are supposed to adhere to, and there is a gate between the stages with a clear set of KPIs, that the Product Councils use to make a decision on whether that idea should move from one stage to another.”

Having clear rules of engagement need to be well communicated and employed by bottom-up and top-down. Craig developed his own version of the playbook and workbook that teams follow, and also provides access to workshops, mentoring and coaching. However, he warns that you can build great infrastructure but it’s not sufficient: “You’d never get the traction that you need, if you don’t engage top-down as well.”

It is without doubt that creating comprehensible steps that can be followed, monitored, and used to base decisions on are needed. These steps are also a way to connect bottom-up and top-down and make sure that everyone gets their hands dirty.


Getting the finance department on board

Sonja: Teams are going to spend a little bit of money to prove or disprove an idea and you need to bring your finance teams on that journey as well and educate them on what this means.”

In Pearson they use the six stages to assign budget. In this way, everyone is on the same page.

Similarly, in Cisco, the funding board plays a major role in the support of teams. By having clear rules of engagement, teams know what they need to do in order to continue to secure funding for the next phase in their development, and the funding board can easily assess their progress and decide if the team is performing well or not.


Finding the right incentives

“You cannot expect someone to both execute on the current business model and start up new ones, if there are no incentives for doing so.” – Andy Cars.

Craig strongly believes that intrinsic incentives trump extrinsic ones:

“Just the ability to work on your own idea, to solve problems being worthy of solving and feel the joy of creation – those intrinsic motivators usually do the trick. While extrinsic ones tend to demotivate, ‘so you paid me a thousand dollars to work on my idea, that’s insulting.’ This approach turns what was a thrilling pursuit of your idea into just being a job. So I find that extrinsic incentives, unless you make them really big, tend to de-motivate.”

In fact, extrinsic incentives can even be dangerous. Tristan gives the example of a company who paid development teams per x-number of lines of code. Maybe at first thought it seems to motivate, but even when the product is a bad idea, they still pursue it.

At Pearson, Sonja and her team are looking into the best models of incentives that they can provide. But Sonja is very clear on one thing – you need to empower people. Sonja gives high importance to building a framework that trains people, builds new skills, and empowers people to apply Lean Startup and make decisions.

Additionally, they are promoting the incentive to fail, quickly and cheaply, to save the company lots of money. Sonja: “We have been working really hard to help employees distinguish between ideas failing and you failing personally.”

With empowerment there should also come a degree of autonomy. Andy suggests creating a separate entity from the mother company. In that way teams can set-up their own culture, and even bring in external investors and have their own board of directors. But at the same time there needs to be some support from the mother company, for example: open up access to distribution networks, to marketing channels, customers, etc.


Finding a good pace

Lean Startup is not necessarily about doing things as cheap as possible, it’s about learning and learning fast.

At Transavia, they used the Agile Framework to scale up their IT development. Vincent explains

After one or two years we were really fast in developing things, but not that fast in ideation or creating new business models or concepts. That’s why we added Lean Startup to do a rapid validation of business concepts.”

“For us it’s a philosophy”, Vincent goes, “How fast can you iterate, learn, and improve, and have transparency so that you can show your progress to stakeholders.

Recently a product manager, said to me: ‘I have the assumption that people who fly on our route from London to Paris stop during the booking process because we do not offer the price in pounds’, so we said: ‘Okay, that’s easy to validate with an AB test, set it up and I will help you to do it in a Lean Startup approach to validate your assumption before we start developing all kinds of stuff’.

So there was an experiment of maybe half a day configuration and two weeks learning. At such a short period we had great insights about the real conversion and the real reason why they left our website and that did validate that indeed what she thought was the problem.”

Tristan has a ‘one-experiment-per-week-minimum’ rule. Of course he would love to see more than one experiment completed, but getting at least one done is a must.


Communicating the value of Lean Startup

This may seem like an obvious fact, but communicating the value of Lean Startup to the different stakeholders is not always so apparent to companies. Just like we talked about finding the right language when talking to executives, you need to find the right language to convince all the layers in a traditional organization. You cannot assume that the executive team is mandating the Lean Startup, even if you talk to them.

“People at various levels of the organization need to understand – what is it for them? Why do they need to start working in different ways? What does this mean? Connect what you are saying to some learning objectives, training, and career progression incentives. That is super important.” – Sonja.

“It’s really important to develop a common language. When someone says ‘innovation’, their meaning of the word is most likely very different to someone else’s.

So we usually start by establishing a common language followed by a shared understanding of the need for change, before attacking the ‘what’ and ‘how’. If people don’t understand why change is necessary, there’s no point talking about specific tools and methods and how to implement them.” – Andy.


It is a bumpy road indeed…

When talking with the practitioners and experts, we noticed that all, or many of them face similar challenges.


“Pearson is a traditional publishing organization that’s been around for over 170 years; an organization that really knows how to publish books, but as we are going on a digital transformation journey we obviously need to start changing how we work. We had and still have a number of challenges in the organization from really long cycles of text, two years to bring MVP to market prior to Lean Startup and PLC, to not enough focus in terms of product strategy and product portfolio prioritization.

A lot of our investment goes to what we call: ‘the sustaining part’ of the product lifecycle journey, so distinguishing between what’s still growing and where we need to sustain or retire and free up funds to invest in innovation, ensuring that we are more competitive in the market place, is very important.”

Understanding what Lean Startup is

Let’s start with a very simple, but crucial challenge – getting a grip on Lean Startup:

“I do see people time and time again misunderstanding what Lean Startup is about, and dismissing it out of hand because of these misunderstandings.” – Andy.


“Swisscom had a value proposition that they were interested in validating. Being a telecommunications company it was a very specific, shall we say, value proposition. It was in German, but it was something like: ‘IP telephony will enable your personal identification portability’. It was absolute technical jargon. And they felt this would look great on their landing page. So they decided to implement a comprehension test to make sure people could understand their value proposition.

They went out of the building and asked people, not if they wanted the product, but could they explain the value proposition back to the team in their own words. In doing so, Swisscom very quickly realized that nobody knew what the hell they were talking about. So they modified their value proposition and continued doing comprehension tests prior to testing demand for the actual product. By making sure their customer understood their value proposition, they ended up with a conversion rate so shockingly high that we thought the analytics was broken. All with a very simple test that only took a few hours. This is the heart of lean startup for me.”

Not actually using Lean Startup

Just because someone says that they will do something, doesn’t mean that they actually will. 

“Just because the intrapreneurs, the incubation teams, say that they want to use ‘Lean Startup’ does not mean that they will. We find that having coaches / mentors can help teams not simply go through the motions but actually change their behaviors. 

To be successful in that endeavor you need to be candid and not allow the teams to get away with not living into the behaviors. 

The danger is that if you don’t do this that the incubation teams will for instance never really learn what an MVP is or how to design and conduct an effective experiment.  Be really explicit with the teams when giving them feedback to reduce the risk of them not really embracing the new way of doing incubation.”, says Craig.

Tristan explains that if a team asks customers ‘if I make this, will it solve your problem?’ and they get an answer ‘oh, absolutely!’ and conclude that their hypothesis has been validated, then they are not actually using the Lean Startup.

Andy sees this problem often with teams:

People try to do Lean Startup but they fail because they digress from the methodology. Examples of this are teams going back to using focus groups, forgetting about letting data, and not your gut, inform your next move, asking heavily biased questions during customer interviews, or tinkering endlessly with solutions before talking with customers. And there are all kinds of compromises done along the way that sort of water down the essence of what Lean Startup is about.  Then they complain that Lean Startup doesn’t work.

But it’s really their whole application of the method that is the problem, not necessarily Lean Startup in itself.

Discarding Lean Startup because it didn’t work out for you, instead of trying to identify where you went wrong in the application of the methodology and trying again, is akin to throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Sometimes not using Lean Startup is about not understanding the methodology or a specific tool, or about taking shortcuts, especially when team members don’t understand the value of certain steps.

Tristan faces this particular situation with engineers:

They have a bias towards building solutions, so they skip the customer, they skip the problem, they don’t validate. They’re smart – so what’s the point of going through these steps?

Going back to what works, one way to encourage the right use of Lean Startup is tying the funding board to the process, “If the funding board which controls who works on projects, how much money they get and what behaviors you have to exhibit to continue to be supported then it’s no longer a discussion.  You either comply with the best practices or you just do RTB work,” says Craig.

Doing so means that teams are forced to be data-driven – they need to measure their steps and listen to the data. Sometimes it’s a matter of not fooling yourself.


Getting employees out of their comfort zones

Specifically when talking about Lean Startup, leaving your comfort zone means getting outside the office to talk with customers. Sonja describes some of the reasons why this may be difficult:

Getting people to get out of the building and talk to customers is difficult for various reasons: because they haven’t done it before, because normally they’ve gone through sales teams when they want to speak to customers, sales teams often protect the customers and don’t really allow products teams to go have their acquisitions, you have a wall of regulatory and sales cycles in some industries to worry about, business models are often not directed at consumers, so it’s hard to distinguish sometimes between who is paying for our product versus who is using the product.”

Vincent gives us quick and fun advice to help with this challenge:

  • Prepare your interviews well, so that you ask the right questions (‘ The Mom Test’ is a great book for this).
  • Prepare skills to talk with customers, for instance, do role-playing with your colleagues to get a feeling of how it would be like to talk with real customers.
  • Prepare a good introduction when approaching customers, be able to manage their expectations, and explain what and why you’re talking to them.
  • Last but not least, think Nike: ‘just do it!’


Wanting a quick fix

Andy sometimes faces the problem that companies want an instant magic remedy to their problems but: “It doesn’t work this way, if you want to innovate you must be willing to be in it for the long-run and to build a diversified portfolio of many small bets.”

Perhaps companies feel that since Lean Startup is a lot about acceleration, there is also an accelerated cure to traditional work processes that don’t fit the innovation speed of our days. However, the fact is that implementing Lean Startup effectively requires a lot of work, which brings me to the next challenge.


Changing the mind-set

While we started with a simple challenge, we are ending with perhaps the most complex of all challenges, namely cultural change.

Vincent, however, is optimistic about it: “I have learnt that it’s about changing the mind-set of people who work for ten years in a certain way, to change their behavior is the hardest part of course. But as soon as they try the Lean Startup once, they will see the value of it. You see people having more fun at work.”

For those who are thinking about implementing Lean Startup, here is some advice from our experts on how to begin to address the challenges of applying Lean Startup.

Start… There are no shortcuts!

Vincent: “You just have to start, that’s the most important thing. Try it with a small group and easy topic.

If you don’t start you will never know how powerful it can be. Dare to start, but also dare to fail and learn from it.”


Start Small, infiltrate deep

Sonja: “Start small, have patience, this is a multi-year program work. Invest in talent, in training people, and always connect what you do to business outcomes. First prove on a small scale how Lean Startup can work, but then use the impact to show the rest of the organization what they could achieve. Once you gain traction, try to transform the whole organization.”

Though Sonja recommends starting small, that doesn’t mean you should move slow. At Pearson, Sonja and her team trained 3000 employees in the first year. They have trained around 120-130 product lifecycle coaches, and as of today, have seven business units that are actively using Lean Startup.


Look for early adaptors

Tristan: “I would urge corporations to look for early adopters of lean within their own company. They can treat Lean Startup like a product with a value proposition. Don’t try to sell Lean Startup to everyone. You’re more likely to succeed by finding the people who are a little bit rebellious, who keep getting into trouble with HR, because they keep on bending the rules.”


(Seriously) don’t forget to define your innovation strategy

Craig: “Innovation strategy needs to come first, because if you don’t know what your innovation strategy is, how the heck are you going to produce business value with your innovation program?  Make sure that your innovation strategy is congruent with your business strategy – know what your competitors are doing, develop ‘Three Horizons’ portfolios, build incubation projects that are inline with your portfolio, support them with Lean Startup, discovery driven planning, etc, while making sure that all these tie back to your innovation strategy.”


Get help

Andy: “If you don’t get help, you will mess up on several crucial details. If you do take in outside advice, you’ll probably mess up as well, but it will be much less severe and it will be fixable.”

Sonja supports this advice by recalling how much great external help they were able to get in Pearson: “I was lucky to be given a budget and I had some amazing people from the startup community and people who have done business transformation before.”


Enjoy the ride!

There is a lot of information in this piece, but I hope that within it you could find the tips, tricks, mistakes, and insights that gave you answers to some of your questions of how to apply Lean Startup in your organization.

Without doubt there are differences (some subtle, some substantial) in the application of Lean Startup across organizations and industries,, and you may find ways that you disagree with.

In the spirit of moving forward and helping each other understand what works and what doesn’t, please leave your comments and questions. I hope that this article will encourage discussion and the sharing of best practices and learnings.


Bios of our interviewed experts and practitioners

Andy-Cars-intrapreneurshipAndy Cars is the founder of Lean Ventures. He works with large established companies on how to plan, design and implement innovation strategies, lean startup and business modeling. Andy has also designed and implemented startup accelerators programs, advised Governments on how to build vibrant startup ecosystems, and has worked with hundreds of startup teams on building growth engines, go-to-market strategies and fundraising. Andy is based in Stockholm.


Craig-Wirkus-intrapreneurshipCraig Wirkus is an Innovation Program Manager at Cisco within the Services Innovation Excellence Center.  The SIEC supports the innovation teams adopt best practices and provides mentoring through a consultative approach.  He supports incubation teams, innovation teams and innovation funding boards through a common vernacular, best practices and support mechanisms.  Each of those constituents are supported with playbooks, workbooks, frameworks, workshops, training and templates.  The innovation funding boards in particular drive the right behaviors through their funding and requirements for the incubation teams. Craig is based in Greater Chicago Area.


Sonja-Kresonjevic-intrapreneurshipSonja Kresonjevic joined Pearson in 2013 and is now SVP in the Chief Product Office. Sonja is in charge of design and implementation of the Global Product Lifecycle, and applying Lean/Agile best practices in Pearson. Sonja has wide international experience in Lean & Agile, from working with startups in Silicon Valley to large corporations. Sonja is based in New York.


Vincent-Thamm-intrapreneurshipVincent Thamm is Innovation Manager at Transavia. He applies the Lean Startup and the Scaled Agile Framework methodology, works on scaling Lean Startup as a method of work within Transavia, and develops the company’s innovation Lab. One of his aims is to achieve continuous innovation and create a lean and cost-conscious culture. Vincent is based in Amsterdam.


Tristan-Kromer-IntrapreneurshipTristan Kromer works with innovation teams and leaders to create amazing products and build startup ecosystems. He has worked with companies from early stage startups with zero revenue to enterprise companies with >$1B USD revenue. Tristan is based in San Francisco, California.



nitzan-merguei-intrapreneurshipThis is an article by Nitzan Merguei. Nitzan graduated from University College Maastricht with a focus on behaviour economics and entrepreneurship. After working in business development and helping to promote the entrepreneurial eco-system in the Netherlands, she co-founded a startup in Virtual Reality combined with medical imaging (next to trying to de-mystify intrapreneurship).

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