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5 Big Companies Practicing 'The Startup Way'

Adapting Ries’s “most viable product” concept, Procter & Gamble got two new lines of feminine-hygiene products (one, Always, above) to the consumer market-testing phase in just one year; it used to take three. Courtesy of P&G

Startup consulting is big among big businesses. Here’s a selection of the larger enterprises Eric Ries has helped as a coach or consultant.

P&G

Adapting Ries’s “most viable product” concept, Procter & Gamble pg got two new lines of feminine-hygiene products to the consumer market-testing phase in just one year; it used to take three.

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Adapting Ries’s “most viable product” concept, Procter & Gamble got two new lines of feminine-hygiene products (one, Always, above) to the consumer market-testing phase in just one year; it used to take three. - Courtesy of P&G
Adapting Ries’s “most viable product” concept, Procter & Gamble got two new lines of feminine-hygiene products (one, Always, above) to the consumer market-testing phase in just one year; it used to take three. Courtesy of P&G

GE

Its FastWorks innovation program is based on Ries’s lean-startup methodology. One positive result: GE’s gas turbine business shifted its model from selling upgrades over time to committing to future changes upfront, a customer-friendly approach. GE ge claims $2 billion in additional sales in 2016 as a result.

Intuit

A devoted lean-startup practitioner, the tax-and-accounting software maker has used its methods to test different approaches to phone support. Small-user-group tests also sped up Intuit’s intu development of a new version of QuickBooks for self-employed workers.

Related: How ‘The Lean Startup’ Turned Eric Ries Into a Corporate Guru

Citi Ventures

The VC arm of the banking giant uses “growth boards,” another Ries-ian construct, to hold periodic “Deal Day” meetings where internal teams can pitch investment ideas and act on them quickly, though only for relatively low-risk, non-needle-moving opportunities.

National Security Agency

Generating the codes that govern the U.S. nuclear arsenal used to require two NSA staffers to share a “no-lone” room for hours at a time. The intelligence agency’s product incubator relied on lean-startup testing to develop a system allowing staffers to do the work from separate locations via secure smartcard log-ins, without compromising safety.

Toyota

The automaker is an original inspiration to Ries for its pioneering embrace of lean manufacturing techniques, including small batch sizes, rapid iteration, and seeking input from workers. Now Toyota tm is using lean-startup tactics to find new approaches to connected-car technology, an area where it lags rivals.

A version of this article appears as a sidebar in the article “The Accidental Guru” in the March 2018 issue of Fortune.

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