Lean: From Chevy Novas to Mobile Apps


Yesterday John Shook spoke about the origins of Lean and how GM, completely disrupted by Toyota, made an extraordinary pivot turning it’s worst manufacturing facility in Fremont into NUMMI. A facility that has pivoted yet again – it is now owned by Tesla and producing the worlds most advanced vehicles.

Toyota’s impact on the auto industry is not unlike the cathartic disruption Apple created with the App Store. Suddenly Apple owned the digital channel, at least for a time, and the publishing industry was forever disrupted. That was the initial use case that led Modus Create to develop the “Kickstart” Product planning exercise based on Lean, Agile and Design Thinking.

We were fortunate to work with a major player, Time Inc., which understood the magnitude of what was happening and was prepared to move decisively. Time knew that just as the desktop browser freed the world from the Microsoft monopoly, the mobile browser could wrest control of the digital channel back away from Apple. Time and Modus iterated many times using HTML5 and the mobile browser to create a distribution channel free from Apple’s control. But the first generation technology wasn’t sufficiently mature.

The disruption of a business model is one of the 3 root use cases Modus Create has been engaged in to help large companies plan and implement new mobile projects using use lean, agile and open technology. In the coming days we’ll talk about the others.


For Lean Startup Conference attendees we delivered a Kickstart workshop on the 11th of December 2013. If you couldn’t attend, you can download a workbook or drop us a line and we’ll send you a fabulous bound copy.

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