The Lean PhD Student — Can The Lean Startup principles be applied to personal productivity in graduate school?
The lean startup methodology consists of a set of principles that were proposed and popularized by Eric Ries in the book The Lean Startup (and elsewhere). He believes that startup success can be engineered by following the lean startup methodology. Eric Ries defines a startup as “a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty”. If we replace “product or service” by “research result”, that sounds awfully similar to what a PhD student has to do. Indeed, the similarities between being a junior researcher, such as a PhD student, and running a startup have been often pointed out (for example: , , ). In light of this, I propose that the lean startup methodology can also be applied to academic pursuits of a PhD student. Below, I adapt some of the most important lean startup concepts for application to a junior researcher’s personal productivity and academic success.1
Please note that I’m writing from the point of view of mathematical, statistical, and computational sciences, rather than from the viewpoint of experimental sciences. ↩