Rigging The Lean Slot Machine

Just back from a short workshop with the folks at CFC Media Lab where we worked closely with the talented and creative teams in the ideaBOOST program. Lean DOES apply to entertainment and gaming. I am excited to see where the teams go with the new tools in their arsenal.

This post is not about how Lean applies to gaming, enterprise, entertainment, etc - which it does. The post is about the difference between linear vs simultaneous execution.

A common mistake entrepreneurs make is to try and solve 50 variables at once. The first thing you learn in algebra is to isolate variables and solve one at a time.

There are many great business model tools out there, which are genius when more variables are proven/known. They can be overwhelming when starting out with mostly unknown variables entirely. Most Lean practitioners agree that a startup is a search for a business model and that no business model survives it's first permutation. That is all most entrepreneurs first products are, random and arbitrary guesses from multiple customers, revenue sources, solutions, value props etc. It is a giant slot machine. The only way to increase the odds of winning are to reduce the number of reels spinning at once. Then to lock in the cherries one at a time once you find where they are.

That's what the three stages of validation are for as developed by LSM.

  1. Step ONE - validate customer/problem via exploration
  2. Step TWO- validate solution demand via pitch
  3. Step THREE- validate solution via concierge 


  • Cheaper- less risk- opportunity cost
  • Not anchored in the solution yet
  • Explore or confirm
  • Comfort zone
  • Start to test against reality
  • Problem may not exist as you see it- or there may be a bigger problem
  • -train your brain to be open to reality, and to hear "no"
  • Don't sell a solution- just listen.
  • Listen for the pain, the problem, the opportunity... 
  • No groups
  • No confirmation bias
  • No observer bias
  • No crowdsourced solutions
  • No "would" - learn about the past, don't ask about the future
  • Less quantifiable than pitch but have a MSC as a baseline
  • Build it and they will come, NOT

STEP TWO - VALIDATE DEMAND (Pitch a solution) 


  • What people say is not what they do
  • Save money
  • Don't have to build yet
  • Learn
  • Settle debates

  • Collect currency that measures genuine demand
  • Careful with friends and family, slacktivism, politeness,
  • Do no harm- but be aggressive
  • Ok to prove one thing at a time


  • See if expectations match reality before putting product in ink

  • Deliver user experience manually

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