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GE, Eric Ries and FastWorks

Innovation Strategy

Eric Ries is the author of The Lean Startup, a business book detailing methods popular with Silicon Valley startups for rapidly testing new business ideas. For the past two years he’s been advising GE, one of the world’s largest companies, on how to think and behave more like a startup. The result is FastWorks, which has seen 40,000 employees put through training (Ries initially trained 80 coaches), and over 300 live projects.

From an article in The Economist: “An early example of FastWorks in action involved a proposal by GE’s engineers for a five-year, $500m project to upgrade its H-class gas turbine. Mr Immelt called for the new approach to be applied, starting with a proof-of-concept exercise costing $25m. The result, GE says, is an upgrade that should be ready in two years for half the original cost.”

According to GE CMO Beth Comstock, who made the initial approach to Ries: “We’re saying to people it’s ok to try things earlier, it’s ok to bring customers in earlier. You’re giving people a lot more freedom to move faster to make more small mistakes.”

Want more? Watch this video of Eric Ries discussing FastWorks with four senior GE executives at the Lean Startup Conference. And read this article from the Harvard Business Review: How GE Applies Lean Startup Practices

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