That title, ‘morphing the lean startup’, may be technical jargon. But it is literal. And brief.

I have a few thoughts to share about them both.


There’s a very small sliver of research in the Marketing Science on morphing. Two papers, ‘website morphing‘, and its adtech successor, ‘morphing banner advertising‘, stand out as giants. This technology makes snap changes to a digital user experience. The ultimate reason why you’re not hearing more about morphing in adtech is because paid agencies can’t figure out how to scale the creative necessary to drive it.

I’m convinced that morphing is the ultimate promise I bought into back in the mid-nineties – the perfect intersection of recsys and experience.




It requires an extreme shift in architecture. It involves going from a content-centric perspective to a consumer-centric perspective. And while that sounds good and it’s easy to pay lip-service to it, it’s very tricky to implement. It’s precisely because it’s so socially hard to implement that I believe it could be an engine for sustainable competitive advantage. I’m testing that out and will have something to share later.

Lean Startup

You can’t go anywhere in North American startup communities without talking about Business Model Innovation or Ries Lean Startup. There’s a larger body of research in the management science about it, including some of the more ultraorthodox approaches that have been panned.

There’s real science involved here. It’s not just a matter of religious opinion about whether one business approach works and another one doesn’t. If you sort the ego and the case studies and the continuous references to Steve Jobs and actually examine the hundreds of companies that have tried, it becomes pretty obvious that certain methods result in failure, and others are associated with better rates of success.

I’m especially attracted to the activity of running a kanban board of risky assumptions.

What could Morphing mean for Lean?

Lean startup places a very strong emphasis on rapid market validation and on customer development. I view improvements in morphing technology as being directly complementary to that mission. It enables an even stronger linkage between copy, features, and user segmentation.

Over the next three months, I’ll be asking you to participate in a few experiments on morphing. Some of these experiences will be driven by some very crude code, but I hope it’s enjoyable should you chose to engage. This is the core story I’d like to tell to round out the year.