Traditionally, the pathway to developing a successful enterprise is thought to involve, at the very outset, feasibility research and a solid business plan. Until recently, conventional post-secondary and community-based business programs invariably took this approach. Many still do. A business plan is still a requirement if one is approaching a bank for financing. We have all heard the adage: ‘fail to plan, and plan to fail’.

An alternative approach to business start-up has emerged. Inspired by the ‘lean manufacturing’ approach introduced in Japan by Toyota in the 1990’s, ‘Lean Start-Up’ is an approach that ‘favours experimentation over elaborate planning, customer feedback over intuition, and iterative design over traditional ‘big design up front’ development’.

Stanford, Harvard, Berkeley, and Columbia are among the American universities leading the charge. Harvard Business School has even wound down its renowned MBA Business Plan competition in favour of Business Model competitions.

In a nutshell, a quick, rough planning tool called the