Social Scaling Lean

How Constraints Create Space for Innovation – A Social Context

Constraints Create Space for Innovation

I was reading a post by Ash Maurya the best selling author of the excellent book ‘Running Lean’.  In his new offering ‘Scaling Lean’ he takes the next steps beyond ideation to his vision for scaling up start-ups.   His linkedIn post ‘How Constraints Create Space For Innovation’ frames a context for Entrepreneurs.  Using the Audi Le Mans racing team driven to innovate within the constraints of a question.

‘How to ensure a win without the ability to make the car go faster than every other car?’.

I for one, am hoping to apply the learning from his second book within a very different context.  My goal is to apply the learning within the context of highly constrained projects seeking to create commercial and social shared value and social outcomes.   Often called Lean innovation or frugal innovation, these resource and cash hungry projects often innovate at the extremes.   Projects such as social commercial partnerships, not-for-profit, social enterprise, social welfare, local economy development, education, healthcare etc.. which seek to fix big problems with little resources powered and driven on by bigger aspirations and even greater constraints … all in the name of building social capital through the delivery of social outcomes.


Expanding The Context For Constrained Innovation

While framed within the context of constraint driven innovation through the eyes of Entrepreneurs, I believe as with his prior book, it should be safe to expand his context.    I am hoping the learning from ‘Scaling Lean’ can be applied in these expanding contexts.  Such contexts can result in blue ocean opportunities as frugal innovations ignites break through innovation to create new business models of social and shared value creation in new an exciting ways and means.

As with lean innovation, frugal innovation is often defined as ‘doing better with less’ and can be applied within the most extreme constraints.  I would go further to suggest that customer development as defined by Steve Blank in his book ‘The Startup Owners Manual’ can be applied to an even greater extent beyond that of the narrow confines of a commercial or social enterprise context.


Expanded Context, Constrained and Contributions

In a series of three new blog post contributions, I expand and explore this topic in more detail.  Together we explore three big problems that require space for innovation of three big solutions and even bigger constraints.  I invite you to ideate with me as we go in search of three scalable solution models.  It is my hope that Ash’s new book ‘Scaling Lean’ can shed new light and learning.  Just as insightful, thought provoking  and applicable as ‘Running Lean’ was when it is applied within such expanded contexts.


Thoughts anyone?




(as at 18th May 2018)

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More About …

Brendon McLoughlin

Brendon McLoughlin is a Technical Project Manager and Lean Black Belt Innovator. Brendon has extensive design and development experience across technology based businesses, product manufacturing and service provider industries, social and not-for-profit organisations.

Brendon has over 20 years of experience within start-ups, SME’s and global enterprises. Brendon continues to build a reputation as a creative lean thinker, innovator, researcher, blogger and evangelist. Brendon’s chosen area of research focuses on 'Rural Innovation' and Capacity, Capability and Competency building and cultivating creative core cultures in small high performance teams from small organisations to realise greater commercial value and social gain.

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