Lean Blog — 469: What a Unicorn Knows: Interview with Authors Matt May & Pablo Dominguez

New book, available now!

For links, video, transcript, and more visit the episode page 

Joining us for Episode #469 of the Lean Blog Interviews Podcast are Matt May and Pablo Dominguez, the authors of the new book What a Unicorn Knows: How Leading Entrepreneurs Use Lean Principles to Drive Sustainable Growth. It’s available now!

Matt has been before, in episodes 67 and 103… and he was my guest for episode 39 of My Favorite Mistake.

Pablo Dominguez is an Operating Partner at Insight Partners, a leading global venture capital and private equity firm investing in high-growth technology and software ScaleUp companies that drive transformative change in their industries.

Pablo has spent his entire career as a go-to-market and sales-focused operator, working in consulting, public companies, startups, and, most recently, ScaleUps. The application of lean principles has figured centrally in driving sustainable growth in each of these ventures.

Matthew E. May leads the Lean ScaleUp program at Insight Partners, with Pablo.  His mastery of lean principles and methodologies comes from spending nearly a decade inside the Toyota organization, where he played an integral part in launching the University of Toyota, a corporate university dedicated to teaching, preserving, and expanding the Toyota Way. Previously the author of many great books, including The Elegant Solution and, most recently, Winning the Brain Game.

In this episode, we discuss their new book and how they are both influenced by Toyota and broader Lean thinking, including the Lean Startup methodology — and we discuss the questions and topics listed below:

Questions, Notes, and highlights:

  • Pablo, since this is your first time here, it would be great to hear your “Lean origin story”
  • Helping people cope with the discovery of waste and opportunities to improve? Feeling bad about it before moving forward?
  • Congratulations on the release of the book… in startup circles, what’s meant by the term “Unicorn”?
  • What’s a ScaleUp compared to a startup?
  • What is product-market fit? An example?
  • Risk of trying to scale prematurely?
  • One of the core themes in your model is “Constant experimentation” 
  • Investors – do they want to hear about “constant experimentation”? Do they want certainty?
  • How to prevent Big Company Syndrome (a.k.a., Big Company Disease)?
  • What is meant by “Lean ScaleUp”?
  • How do you react when you hear this aversion to “process” in agile or startup circles, as if process means being inflexible?
  • What’s a “lean kaizen sprint”?
  • Applying this to the sales process?
  • Lessons Toyota about “building team spirit”?
  • Building teamwork across silos?

The podcast is sponsored by Stiles Associates, now in its 30th year of business. They are the go-to Lean recruiting firm serving the manufacturing, private equity, and healthcare industries. Learn more.

This podcast is part of the #LeanCommunicators network