From Idea to Business with Lean Startup & the Progress Board

Added on by Alexander Osterwalder.

The Business Model and Value Proposition Canvas help you shape your ideas. The Lean Startup process (+ our Test & Learning Cards) helps you test them and capture insights. Now we designed the Progress Board to help you manage the whole process and track how much progress you are making.

In the image below, we outline a simplified process of how to test a business idea. It starts with the prototyping of your idea (Tools: Business Model Canvas + Value Proposition Canvas); continues with the extraction and prioritization of key assumptions (i.e. the hypotheses underlying your ideas); this is followed by their testing (Tool: Test Card); and from your tests/experiments you derive insights that lead to actions (Tool: Learning Card).

From Canvases to Learnings with the Lean Startup Process (Value Proposition Design, p.198)

Unfortunately, getting from idea to business is not as linear as the image above might suggest. In reality, you will go through the above process countless times until you can honestly say that you validated the most important hypotheses underlying your business idea. The Lean Startup Process is an iterative process, not a linear one.

In this search for the right business model and value propositions, you will perform the following steps outlined in the list and slide deck many, many times: 

  1. Prototype and shape your ideas with the Business Model Canvas and/or Value Proposition Canvas.
  2. Extract the underlying hypotheses and prioritize them.
  3. Design tests with Test Cards to (in)validate your most critical hypotheses.
  4. Enter the learning loop to learn from your tests (build, measure, learn)
  5. Capture learnings from those tests with the Learning Card and act upon them:
    • uncertain = test more
    • validated = progress
    • invalidated = iterate/pivot and review your hypotheses
  6. Measure your progress (or reshape your ideas)

To help manage the whole testing process outlined above, we invented the Progress Board. It goes hand-in-hand with the Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Canvas, and helps you monitor your progress by tracking all your hypotheses, Test Cards, and Learning Cards.


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Get Your Free Progress Board

The tools and resources mentioned in this post are available for FREE in our resource library. Get access to 30+ other tools and resources to help you design a business that your customers will love. Simply create an account for access. 


The list and slide deck below outline how to use the Progress Board, which is a totally new tool that we are introducing to the market:

  1. Define the progress metrics for your particular project
  2. Add the most critical hypotheses to the Board (1 sticky note each)
  3. Add the Test Cards to the 'Backlog' column (1 card per experiment)
  4. Move a Test Card to the 'Build' column when you get started 
  5. Move a Test Card to the 'Measure' column when a test is running
  6. Move a Test Card to the 'Learn' column when an experiment is completed and the data is ready to be analyzed
  7. Capture your insights from the experiment in a Learning Card
  8. Take action by either moving forward, testing more, or pivoting (back to Canvases)

Try out the Progress Board and tell us what you think!