Why a purely Lean approach isn't always the answer to digital product development.

From small design shops to global corporations, there’s a debate raging over the best way to create innovative digital products. On one side, there’s the methodology of design thinking, born in the ‘80s and championed by respected design firms like IDEO. In the other corner sits the upstart challenger, the lean startup method. There's arguments to be made for both sides, but the best solution requires a blend of both.

Last month I participated in a debate over this very issue that pitted lean start-startup methods against design thinking, and with a surprisingly packed audience. You might think that spending a Friday night debating process is a tad nerdy, but in New York's tech startup-obsessed climate, it’s serious business (with a bit of whiskey). Companies are making millions of dollars from technologies that only launched 5 years ago like smartphone apps, so the race is on to optimize the process for conceiving, designing, building and testing digital products.

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