The lean start-up

Concept: Startup success can be engineered
Book: The lean startup
Author: Eric Ries
Category: Entrepreneurship
Rating: 8,5/10

 Concept: Startup success can be engineered

Startup success is not a consequence of good genes or being in the right place at the right time. Startup success can be engineered by following the right process. This means it can be learned, which means it can be taught. The fundamental activity of a startup or innovation team is to turn ideas into products; measure how customers respond, and then learn whether to pivot or preserve. All successful startup processes should be geared to accelerate that feedback loop.

 Books in business comment on “start-up success can be engineered”.

For more than a century we got ourselves a huge set of knowledge for managing big companies. Ries introduces a second century of management for entrepreneurship. As for big companies, the Lean Startup attempts to provide rigorous footing to entrepreneurship and innovation.

To me, the idea of rationalizing entrepreneurship was a great eye opener. When I started my first business, I asked myself a lot of questions about doing the right thing, making the right decisions at the right moment etc.  Big stories about entrepreneurial geniuses inspired me but sometimes they also made it ridiculously mystical and little actionable. This book was therefore a great relief to me:  it kind of unveiled the mystery around entrepreneurship. It inspired me to consider it as a normal job with its own tools and methodologies to increase business success rate.

Ries’ methodology is based on a straightforward process of build-measure and learn. In stead of creating pages of long business plans, months of internal brainstorming (waterfall process), Ries pleads for a ‘scrummed’ process. Start with an idea (including a vision and strategy) and get your product to the market as soon as possible. The stage gate or waterfall-big-batches approach is not adapted to todays’ rapidly changing business environment. Long lead times can alienate the startup from the market reality. Today, customer feedback is far more important than endless internal preparation.

In one of the businesses I’m working (Howaboutsales), we continuously challenge each other to improve our software based on customer feedback. To such an extent that we even offer tools at cost price to strategic customers just to get their feedback. We consider this as valuable input to improve our software in line with customer needs. This scrummed method really helps us to continuously improve and stay a step ahead of the tough competition of big corporations as Microsoft and Salesforce.com.

Take a look at this great Stanford video where Ries explains the interesting startup phenomena called ‘reality distortion field’ and  ‘shadow believes’, ideas that confirm the need for a scrummed process approach.

Books in business take away: get your product as soon as possible into the market, measure, learn and improve.