The principles behind Lean Impact are not novel concepts in the social sector.  Christie George of New Media Ventures explained on Tuesday’s Lean Impact webcast that many social organizations have been using lean startup techniques for a long time. The Lean Impact movement introduced the vocabulary for these techniques and in doing so created a cohesive movement. Christie was dead on when she said  “There is real power in naming.”

The 45 minute webcast by entitled  Implementing Lean Startup in Mission-driven Organizations featured Christie and Akash Trivedi of’s Zip program. The webcast highlighted many important successes and issues within the Lean Impact space. Case studies included organizations such as Kiva Zip, Upworthy and Amazon Smile.


In addition to the complication behind measuring impact and determining metrics on intangible social issues, the concept of “failing real people” lingered with me. One of my favorite things about social entrepreneurship is the idea of failure as a positive thing. In my years of working in traditional non-profit organizations, failure was not acceptable. To the point that if failure occurred, it was covered up. The fact that we refused to accept failure and learn from it meant extremely ineffective organizations that helped no one.

This is one of the many reasons why I left the non-profit world. But now in a space where failure is accepted and applauded, I quickly forgot that this failure affects real people. So in a way, it doesn’t matter whether or not we accept failure. Or does it? People will still be affected.

Though as Christie mentioned the difference with Lean Impact is failing fast. Failing fast means we don't dwell on it, we learn from it, apply it and move on.

But it is still hard to shake off that my failure could have real consequences. How do you grapple with this issue? Let me know during The Lean for Social Good Summit.

- Ana