The Lean Start Up by Eric Reis is a great book. It didn't take me very long to listen to it, even though I am bouncing around a couple of books. I realized that I'm reading this and Daniel Reis' Odoo 15 Development Essentials. I don't think these authors are related but I never have read two authors with the same last name.
The largest confusion I have from the book is whether or not to be more human centered or more data-driven. Eric Reis is concerned about the managers who are only looking for utility and ignoring learning, reports, and cross-functional departments. As he states in the beginning, he believed that a productive day was 6-8 hours straight of coding. Stopping to this flow seems like it is less productive. But, in fact, validated learning is more important than keeping your head down and building something that no one needs.
At the same time, he believes in proper measurements and focusing on those metrics to have a successful startup. So which is it? More data driven decisions and scientific rigor in management? Or is it allowing for novelty and experimentation?
There is something that startups have that is special, and that is that the agility to test a hypothesis and experiment; so that it can learn and solve the right problems in the world. This will make sure we are not wasting time and resources. He also applies entrepreneurship to established businesses, and I really enjoyed hearing those examples as well. It's great to see successful businesses using their resources well.
Listed below are the 5 principles of The Lean Startup; and although they are restated through the book in passing, I think it could have been very helpful to have it stated in it's own section; like in an appendix.
1. Entrepreneurs are everywhere. You don’t have to work in a garage to be in a startup. The concept of entrepreneurship includes anyone who works within my definition of a startup: a human institution designed to create new products and services under conditions of extreme uncertainty. That means entrepreneurs are everywhere and the Lean Startup approach can work in any size company, even a very large enterprise, in any sector or industry.
2. Entrepreneurship is management. A startup is an institution, not just a product, and so it requires a new kind of management specifically geared to its context of extreme uncertainty. In fact, as I will argue later, I believe “entrepreneur” should be considered a job title in all modern companies that depend on innovation for their future growth.
3. Validated learning. Startups exist not just to make stuff, make money, or even serve customers. They exist to learn how to build a sustainable business. This learning can be validated scientifically by running frequent experiments that allow entrepreneurs to test each element of their vision.
4. Build-Measure-Learn. The fundamental activity of a startup is to turn ideas into products, measure how customers respond, and then learn whether to pivot or persevere. All successful startup processes should be geared to accelerate that feedback loop.5. Innovation accounting. To improve entrepreneurial outcomes and hold innovators accountable, we need to focus on the boring stuff: how to measure progress, how to set up milestones, and how to prioritize work. This requires a new kind of accounting designed for startups—and the people who hold them accountable.
This book also deserves a glossary of all of the words stated above, and then some. For example, I really like the term genchi gembutsu (“go and see for yourself”)
What I like most about this book is how well it pairs with Modern Software Engineer. Now, I do believe that scientific rigor is better applied to software than it is to managers; but the same ideas are being applied in both book. Make an observation, test it, get the results, refactor, reduce waste and don't sink too much time into a single change without data to back up that it is what you should be building or doing.
I'm still a bit unsure how I'll be applying these to my own business; however, I will definitely be returning to this book and testing out what it has to say. Since it has been a stable in the startup and entrepreneurial space; I'll be exposed to these ideas whether I like it or not.
All in all, I recommend this book and look forward to trying out its ideas.