The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

by: Eric Ries (0)

lean startup, the

The Quotes

Lean thinking defines value as providing benefit to the customer; anything else is waste.

A startup is a human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.

The value hypothesis tests whether a product or service really delivers value to customers once they are using it.

The Reviews

I had two primary issues with the book. First, the books is written by a software guy for software guys and start-ups. I can only recall one reference in all the pages to a hardware product. So this books in not for anyone that is looking to create physical and tangible products. In fact, hardware is hard and my research hasn't found anything remotely useful in applying lean start-up principles to hardware.Second, the focus of the book is on "what" a lean start-up is and doesn't provide actionable information. Diarrhea of the word processor resulted in a 365 page definition of a lean start-up, where it could have been boiled down to less than 100 pages (minus 1-star for waste...Distill it down to an A3 using Lean Thinking). So let me save you some time.1. An entrepreneur is a person who creates a business around a product or service under conditions of "extreme uncertainty", and should ascend the vision-strategy-product pyramid. (Google: Start with Why TEDx - Ries redefines that concept)2. A start-up is a phase of the entrepreneur's organization, tasked with the goal of reducing the condition of "extreme uncertainty", and finding a sustainable business model (Google: Lean Business Model Canvas).3. Use customer discovery (class) and validated learning (method) to find a sustainable business model around your product or service idea. The validated learning method of Build-Measure-Learn is synonymous with Plan-Do (Build), Check (Measure), and Act (Learn) cycle, which as most people know is derived from the scientific method. a. Build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) b. Measure using Actionable Metrics instead of Vanity Metrics. c. Learn from your MVP and Actionable metrics and Pivot to improve problem/solution and product/market fit or Persevere.4. Finally, use lean principles (i.e. small batch sizes, 5 whys root cause analysis, chief engineer, blah, blah, blah) to stream-line your operation once you've found a viable business model and are ready to leave the start-up phase and enter the growth phase. (Minus 1-star: As a hardware guy and having extensive experience in lean it's blatantly obvious Ries is just starting his lean journey and his last section (Accelerate) is superficial, survey, regurgitation of some of the lean tools and ideas).Reference More Actionable Books:Running Lean - Ash MauryaArt of the Start (Ch.1) - Guy KawasakiReference Free Material:Steve Blank's Website & BlogSimon Sinek - Start with Why

I bought into the hype of this so called "bible" of entrepreneurship after being force fed with it in innovation and entrepreneurship classes at university. It is ranked as the quintessential entrepreneurship book/movement of our time, but let me warn you, it's not. Don't fall into this half baked, candy coated approach to 'successful' business creation.This book could've easily been a 2 page essay but instead it is a 300 page college-esque (and very boring) essay. It also feels like an ad for Eric Ries' unheard-of internet businesses. There is nothing Lean about the Lean Startup, it should be called the Learn Startup instead. The Lean Startup approach to business creation kills disruption and true innovation, it is a guide for building a catered (incrementally improved at best) business. If Henry Ford followed this we would indeed have faster horses. Read Thiel's From Zero to One instead. This is garbage.

Verbose and repetitive. The entire book can be captured in a single, succinct Medium post. Don't waste your money, and more importantly for any busy entrepreneur, don't waste your time with this book.

The concept of Lean is centered on value adding activities and reducing everything else. The Toyota Production System (TPS) implemented in the 1990s focused on eliminating waste at the manufacturing plant in Japan. Their efficient manufacturing system subsequently became known as the first lean process. So lean methodologies have existed for some time, but Eric Ries succeeds in putting an entirely new spin on the concept by applying it to innovation. As someone who majored in Industrial & Systems Engineering in college, the themes in the book struck right at home for me.The Lean Startup model focuses on creating a minimum viable product for the market and receiving customer feedback along the way to improve the product. Oftentimes a rough draft of a working product is enough to gain valuable feedback and ideas that would never have been thought of if the project had been refined to death by its developers. What if your team toiled away for years creating advanced software and the finished product doesn’t have the features the customer really wanted? Avoid this mistake. The Lean Startup methodology is a way to ensure the final product is as optimized as possible.Eric also introduces pivots as a means to take a new approach, if necessary, instead of starting over from scratch. This is in contrast to the old way of doing business where a product is launched only when it is fully functional and high quality in the creator’s eyes. Oftentimes, perfectionism can be costly both in time and in money. Eric does a wonderful job outlining how a product (online or physical) can be built and refined from a customer feedback loop.Not only does The Lean Startup serve as a methodical roadmap for creating your business efficiently and effectively, but also the book delves into startup metrics that will give a new meaning to how you measure your progress. Ries calls this “innovation accounting”. Innovation accounting is a way of looking past the headline numbers such as revenue growth and instead tracking changes in customer adoption, retention and usage patterns.A successful startup does not just flourish because of a brilliant idea. Success in a condition of uncertainty (in this case innovation) requires managing people through all the challenges of innovation and growth. It means understanding your customer and keying in on statistics that tell the true story of progress. Whether you are a product developer for a company or an executive at a high-tech startup or even a fresh-faced college graduate, this book benefits positions from all perspectives in every industry.Read more here: [...]

Eric Ries has some "priceless" insight. As a Start-Up Mentor and I-Corps Instructor I now make this a strongly suggested read, along with Steve Blank and Bob Dorf's "The Startup Owner's Manual". Eric covers many of the areas we coach ventures such as preparing a product or service vision. Equally important, to get out there to get voice of the customer (VOC) input to test their venture hypothesis. He makes another compelling case, for not doing things that don't have a lean start-up short term return. This wisdom applies equally to new start-ups and to traditional companies that seek to build new products and services.

I feel like this book is for 40-50 something's that are stuck in an old way of getting things done. If you've come out of business school within the last ten years or have a more objective view on how to get things done, this is going to be a little pain full to get through. It belabors the lean manufacturing principles including the "5 whys", batch processing, etc. and makes a halfhearted attempt at tying these principles into start-ups. It's also very software engineering heavy in it's examples which was a little boring to me.The most valuable information was the concept of developing a minimum viable product (MVP) and working through the build-measure-learn feedback loop to modify your MVP and repeating this process until you learn enough to move forward. However, there's a much better book on this called "the right it" which is more of an inventor/ entrepreneur book than a silicon valley nerd trying to meld corporate and start-up philosophies.Overall, the book was probably much more effective in 2011 than 2020. Read this if you know little to nothing about business or if you're an old curmudgeon that's stuck in the old values of corporate America. Otherwise, read a quick summary and save your time.

This book was recommended to me by colleagues who center their entire business on Lean production approaches. It was their way of introducing me to the system. I found dozens of helpful, actionable, road-tested strategies in the book to just be more productive, both as an individual and for my business. It was a very quick read -- read it in 3-4 hours one afternoon -- but it was so full of information that I was compelled to take notes and highlight along the way so I could revisit the information.Several key aspects I liked:- the author employed the strategies in real-world settings and shared both positive and negative outcomes- the repetition of the key ideas in different contexts really helped to drive the main point home- the customer-driven / client-driven nature of the entire process- finally, perhaps most of all, the drive to streamline the entire entrepreneurial process with quick-to-market prototypes and measurement strategies designed to spark useful iterations.I'm quite new to Lean approaches, and this was a great and useful primer.

If you are looking to create a startup business yourself, bring innovation to your workplace or consult on either behalf, this is a fantastic read. It appears to me more tailored to software companies, however this can be used for produuct and service companies as well. In fact it is mentioned a few times throughout the book on how to do just that.These ideas helped me consult a friend of mine who is cofounder of a startup make smarter decisions. He has thanked me for the advise and is purchasing the book himself.

This is an easy read with solid insights on creating a viable, profitable product. Ries uses examples, both good and bad, from his own experiences creating and running startup businesses. The Minimum Viable Product perspective facilitates getting product to market and generating revenue. In many ways, the parallel is good gets in the way of great comments from Jim Collins.Anyone trying to create a new product, startup or as part of a larger company should find the perspectives and guides useful.

Any entrepreneur, innovator, salesman or evangelist should read this book before serving anything that people would be willing to put money into.

It's basically very hard to criticize the concepts written in this book. Some comments highligths the author as "self absorbed" - I just can not see this book that way. Eric gives lot of examples how he learned hard way things which are not only interesting but very good examples.However, if you are already aware of the concept, this book may not give much new to you.

It was a realistic look at the corporate process and avoiding the stymying of innovation that so often occurs in those organization as well as addressing the approaches the new couple in order to succeed.

The content is fantastic and should not be missed by anyone interested in either a start-up or any new endeavor (whether or not it’s in a traditional company), thus my high rating. The methods eventually reached in the book are insightful and applied expertly to both startups and larger organizations. Eric makes clear the many benefits and warnings of misuse and wisely encourages the needed customizations for each context (this is, after-all, a framework, not a recipe). These benefits are why I love this book.Yet, I hope he does a second edition that organizes the material much better. The beginning is very wordy and disorienting because Eric spends excess time building credibility (in himself, the process, showing the need and other contextual concerns) leaving the reader to hold a lot in her/his head without the core point. For example, a list of benefits (the effects of a coming key concept) may be given long before the key concept is given, requiring the reader to hold too much in mind and retroactively absorb the full impact (or re-read for best absorption). I found this part taxing.Make no mistake though, I highly recommend this book. In spite of how I felt 20% in, the fantastic content of this book superseded all organizational issues I had with it.

I am in the midst of doing a new startup. I have been creating products and companies since I was 13 years old (20+ years now). I wish I would have had this book back then. It provides a framework for constant innovation and validates what I know to be true in the world of business. I am confident that I have the right business model at the right time but have spent months fine tuning, trying to make it perfect before launch. I have heard over and over again that I just need to get it out there whether perfect or not but never fully bought into that until reading this book. I now understand. This book has inspired me to speed up my plan and I think at the end of the day I will have a much stronger product and startup because of that.And this book isn't just for startups. In addition to my new startup, I own a marketing firm. While reading this book I kept thinking of the ways the methodology in in could benefit all of my clients - from my doctors to my retailers to my restaurant clients. Just a great read for anyone that has a product that they want to sell to the masses. So pretty much - if you are in business, you should read this book.

Almost every chapter provides actionable advice with real-life examples drawn from the authors’ personal experience. So many essential books on start-ups reference this novel and with good reason—the lean start-up method is even more relevant in today’s data-driven, software-saturated world. My only criticism is that the book’s last two chapters feel quite redundant—it could’ve been leaner.

Lean Startup is a well-written book with a lot of fresh ideas and thinking about start-ups and entrepreneurship. Eric Ries, author of the book, has had a fair share of start-up experience and in his last start-up (IMVU) experimented with a lot of non-standard ways of managing start-ups influenced by Steve Blank and the Toyota Production System (or lean and hence Lean Startup).The book is divided in 3 parts which roughly map to 'phases' of start-ups: 1) vision, 2) steer, and 3) accelerate. Each of these parts is divided in 4 chapters each simply named with one word such as "Test" or "Measure" (not incredibly descriptive).The first part is called Vision and defines Lean Start-up and its influences. It explains how start-ups are about validated learning and how the optimization of start-ups needs to be about how fast they go through the build-measure-learn cycle. When starting a new product, the first thing you need to get is feedback on the product, so it is important to get a Minimum Viable Product out as quickly as possible as learning about how to use the product is a lot more powerful than research or asking customers.The second part continues with the Minimum Viable Product and the learning. The learning we'll need to get from the product is whether our business assumptions (leap-of-faith assumptions) were in fact correct. Start-ups need to change their accounting system to measure their progress in validated learning. When there is enough learning, they can check their leap-of-faith assumption and make the decision to pivot (change a bit in one direction) or persevere (continue).The last part (accelerate) first covers small batches, one of the basic concepts behind lean start-up and then explores the different "engine of growth" that companies have and stress to focus on one of these. After that it gives Eric's perspective on building lasting companies that continue to improve. The author shared his adaptation of the five why technique. It ends with some general discussion about innovation in larger companies.The epilogue contains a surprisingly positive perspective on the principled of scientific management from Fredrick Taylor.All in all, I enjoyed the book quite a lot, especially the first 2 parts. The way the author has weaved a bunch of concepts together into one holistic framework is quite nice and very concrete. It is not easy to manage your company the way the author suggests as it requires a lot of discipline and introspection (both lacking in many companies). But the Lean Startup moves us away from the black art of startups and creates an interesting structure, or at least perspective, to starting up new ventures. Recommended reading.

Using an effective process to create a high value company has never been so important in these rapid changing times. The Lean Startup methodology explores this effective process that is going to save lots of wasted time and energy that could be used to further innovate and deliver even greater value to our lovely customers.

After reading Clayton Christensen, Geoffrey Moore and Steve Blank, I was expecting a lot from The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. I was disappointed. It could be that I did not read it well or too fast, but I was expecting much more. But instead of saying what I did not like, let me begin with the good points. Just like the previous three authors, Ries shows that innovation may be totally counterintuitive: "My cofounders and I are determined to make new mistakes. We do everything wrong. We build a minimum viable product, an early product that is terrible, full of bugs and crash-your-computer-yes-really stability problems. Then we ship it to customers before it's ready. And we charge money for it. After securing initial customers, we change the product constantly. [...] We really had customers, often talked to them and did not do what they said." [page 4] On page 8, Eric Ries explains that the lean startup method helps entrepreneurs "under conditions of extreme uncertainty" with a "new kind of management" by "testing each element of their vision", and "learn whether to pivot or persevere" using a "feedback loop".This is he Build-Measure-Learn process. He goes on by explaining why start-ups fail:1- The first problem is the allure of a good plan. "Planning and forecasting are only accurate when based on a long, stable operating history and a relatively static environment. Startups have neither."2- The second problem is the "Just-do-it". "This school believes that chaos is the answer. This does not work either. A startup must be managed".The main and most convincing lesson from Ries is that because start-ups face a lot of uncertainty, they should test, experiment, learn from the right or wrong hypotheses as early and as often as possible. They should use actionable metrics, split-test experiments, innovation accounting. He is also a big fan of Toyota lean manufacturing.I loved his borrowing of Komisar's Analogs and Antilogs. For the iPod, the Sony Walkman was an Analog ("people listen to music in a public place using earphones") and Napster was an Antilog ("although people were willing to download music, they were not willing to pay for it"). [Page 83] Ries further develops the MVP, Minimum Viable Product: "it is not the smallest product imaginable, but the fastest way to get through the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop." Apple's original iPhone, Google's first search engine, or even Dropbox Video Demo were such MVPs. More on Techcrunch [page 97]. He adds that MVP does not go without risks, including legal issues, competition, branding and morale of the team. He has a good point about intellectual property [page 110]: "In my opinion, [...the] current patent law inhibits innovation and should be remedied as a matter of public policy."So why did I feel some frustration? There is probably the feeling Ries gives that his method is a science. [Page 3]: "Startup success can be engineered by following the right process, which means it can be learned, which means it can be taught." [Page 148]: "Because of the scientific methodology that underlies the Lean Startup, there is often a misconception that it offers a rigid clinical formula for making pivot or persevere decisions. There is no way to remove the human element - vision, intuition, judgment - from the practice of entrepreneurship, nor that would be desirable". I was probably expecting more recipes, as the ones Blnak gives in The Four Steps to the Epiphany. So? Art or science? Ries explains on page 161 that pivot requires courage. "First, Vanity Metrics can allow to form false conclusions. [...] Second, an unclear hypothesis makes it impossible to experience complete failure, [...] Third, many entrepreneurs are afraid. Acknowledging failure can lead to dangerously low morale." A few pages before (page 154), he writes that "failure is a prerequisite to learning". Ries describes a systematic method, I am not sure it is a science, not even a process. Indeed, in his concluding chapter, as if he wanted to mitigate his previous arguments, he tends to agree: "the real goal of innovation: to learn that which is currently unknown" [page 275]. "Throughout our celebration of the Lean Startup movement, a note of caution is essential. We cannot afford to have our success breed a new pseudoscience around pivots, MVPs, and the like" [page 279]. This in no way diminishes the traditional entrepreneurial virtues; the primacy of vision, the willingness to take bold risks, and the courage required in the face of overwhelming odds" [page 278].Let me mention here a video from Komisar. Together with Moore and Blank, he is among the ones who advise reading Ries' book. I am less convinced than them about the necessity to read this book. I have now more questions than answers, but this may be a good sign! I have been more frustrated than enlightened by the anecdotes he gives or his use of the Toyota strategy. In na interview given to the Stanford Venture Technology program, Komisar talks about how to teach entrepreneurship. Listen to him! To be fair, Eric Ries is helping a lot the entrepreneurship movement. I just discovered a new set of videos he is a part of, thanks to SpinkleLab. Fred Destin had also a great post on his blog about the Lean Startup and you should probably read it too to build your own opinion. Lean is hard and (generally) good for you. Fred summaries Lean this way and he is right: "In the real world, most companies do too much development and spend too much money too early (usually to hit some pre-defined plan that is nothing more than a fantasy and / or is not where they need to go to succeed) and find themselves with an impossible task of raising money at uprounds around Series B. So founders get screwed and everyone ends up with a bad taste in their mouth. That's fundamentally why early stage capital efficiency should matter to you, and why you should at least understand lean concepts."Let me finish with a recent interview given by Steve Blank in Finland: "I have devoted the last decade of my life and my "fourth career" to trying to prove that methods for improving entrepreneurial success can be taught. Entrepreneurship itself is more of a genetic phenomenon. Either you have the passion and drive to start something, or you don't. I believe entrepreneurs are artists, and I'd like to quote George Bernard Shaw to illustrate: "Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not." Over the last decade we assumed that once we found repeatable methodologies (Agile and Customer Development, Business Model Design) to build early stage ventures, entrepreneurship would become a "science," and anyone could do it. I'm beginning to suspect this assumption may be wrong. It's not that the tools are wrong. Where I think we have gone wrong is the belief that anyone can use these tools equally well. When page-layout programs came out with the Macintosh in 1984, everyone thought it was going to be the end of graphic artists and designers. "Now everyone can do design," was the mantra. Users quickly learned how hard it was do design well and again hired professionals. The same thing happened with the first bit-mapped word processors. We didn't get more or better authors. Instead we ended up with poorly written documents that looked like ransom notes. Today's equivalent is Apple's "Garageband". Not everyone who uses composition tools can actually write music that anyone wants to listen to. It may be we can increase the number of founders and entrepreneurial employees, with better tools, more money, and greater education. But it's more likely that until we truly understand how to teach creativity, their numbers are limited. Not everyone is an artist, after all."

Bloomberg reports that 8 out of 10 new businesses fail within the first 18 months — and most big, established companies have trouble generating truly innovative new products. So, the process of introducing innovation to the market is pretty much hit or miss, whether the engine is a startup or a Fortune 100 company.Eric Ries wants to take the guesswork out of innovation. His method, featured in his seminal 2011 book, The Lean Startup, and in his website and consulting practice, is built around a technique well known to direct marketers: the A/B split test. In marketing, a mailer will test two variations of a mailing package, an offer or suggested gift, or two market segments, keeping all other variables constant. If the rules of statistics are carefully observed, the result, favoring either A or B, will in theory be replicable when mailing in larger quantities. Ries applies this approach, which he calls “experimenting,” in what appears to be a loosey-goosey fashion. (At one point in his book, he clearly implies that the tests he runs, comparing product features, market segments, positioning, or other testable elements, are less than statistically rigorous. Somehow, though, the companies he’s helped to start or advised seem to have made a lot of money with this approach, so he must be doing something right.)In fairness, Ries’ Lean Startup method involves a great deal more than testing. He advocates a complete rethinking of the way business is organized and managed and the ways it collects and interprets data. Small, cross-functional teams formed to build and sell innovative products use testing on “small batches” of prospective customers to determine which tweaks on the product or its marketing will optimize sales — or whether the product itself or its use must be entirely re-thought. Systematic testing produces “validated learning” that enables each team to avoid waste such as the hundreds of work-hours that might be involved in producing a finished product by instead testing a “Minimum Viable Product” that will only be finished on the basis of repeated testing. In other words, Ries maps out his own route to the “learning organization” described by Peter Senge in his own seminal book, The Fifth Discipline, more than two decades ago.Ries’ cross-functional teams are not modeled on the “skunk works” familiar to students of business history. Unlike the original unit of Lockheed that was sequestered in a secret location to design aircraft such as the U-2 spy plane and the F-22 Raptor, the cross-functional teams in a startup company — or themselves constituted as “startups” within a big business — are neither secretive nor elitist. What they have in common with Lockheed’s Skunk Works is independence, as they’re empowered to make all decisions on their own without consulting management.The core concept behind the Lean Startup approach is that a newly launched enterprise exists only “to learn how to build a sustainable business. This learning can be validated scientifically by running frequent experiments [i.e., tests] that allow entrepreneurs to test each element of their vision. . . The fundamental activity of a startup is to turn ideas into products, measure how customers respond, and then learn whether to pivot or persevere.” A pivot, in Ries’ lexicon, is a shift of course away from the entrepreneur’s original vision — for example, deciding that a company’s core strengths can be more productively and profitably employed in a business-to-business enterprise rather than marketing directly to consumers.The Lean Startup (the book) is, in a fundamental sense, an introductory guide to Ries’ thinking. However, his prescriptions are often vague — for instance, he writes about the importance of testing in “small batches” but never specifies how small, which is a significant question in statistics — so a real-world entrepreneur would be hard-pressed to apply this method without help. That, it appears, is the function of the many meetups, blogs, online communities, and a wiki that have sprung up around the world for entrepreneurs to share their experiences with the Lean Startup approach. Of course, if you can afford him, you may be able to hire Eric Ries himself.Ries draws much of his inspiration from the Japanese Lean Manufacturing method pioneered at Toyota — if anything, the “secret” of Toyota’s successful rise from a small company to the world’s largest automobile manufacturer. He has also read widely in the management literature, delving into the work of Frederick Winslow Taylor (The Principles of Scientific Management), W. Edwards Deming (quality control), Alfred Sloan (My Years with General Motors), and Peter Drucker (The Practice of Management) as well as contemporary writers such as Steve Blank (customer development) and Clayton Christensen (The Innovator’s Dilemma).The Lean Startup is strong on content but weak on presentation. The author appears to be too much in love with his own jargon — there seem to be dozens of proprietary words and phrases he repeats over and over — and his writing style is less than compelling. He even makes occasional grammatical errors. Nonetheless, I recommend this book to anyone who is starting, or even thinking of starting, a new business. The Lean Startup contains a great deal of wisdom.

An excellent marketing strategy book. I strongly suggest that every organization should use it as part of the leadership training and decision making.

The media could not be loaded.  I needed this. I can place/throw/gather my yoga mats, jump ropes, ankle weights, etc. It's easy to set up (insert the poles) and the wheels come attached already. Now everything is in one place for me. Kudos for me! This is a good item to have for those that have multiple exercise items.

Great book!

good condition

Don't miss this one, it is a good mix of theory and practice. Lean accounting part )engines of growth/ validated learnings) is the most important.

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
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