With The Lean Start Up, Mr. Ries is on to something. Usually when I read a business book, it simply restates that which I learned in college using a colorful metaphor. The Lean Start Up is more practical. It is based on Ries’ experiences as an entrepreneur. Ries has a couple central themes. One is Learning. The primary function of a Start Up is learning… how to profitable. “Validated learning about how to build a sustainable business.” Rather than guessing, Ries suggest running small controlled experiments as often as possible to maximize learning. This creates a feedback loop. By accelerating this loop, “Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses.”
Another theme is the counter-intuitive power of small batches. Counter-intuitive because we have all had scales of economies drilled into our heads. Ries shows the many problems of working with large batch sizes.
Not only does this book make sense, it appears to work in practice. It is not an easy system to run but can be implemented in firms of any size and not just start ups. The Lean Startup system will cause problems at first because it “causes teams to sub-optimize for the individual functions”, but by doing this it optimizes the companies overall system in a scientific manner. Ries points out, “For all our vaunted efficiency in the making of things, our economy is still incredibly wasteful. This waste comes not from the inefficient organization of work but rather from working on the wrong things- and on an industrial scale. As Peter Drucker said, ‘There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.’ ”
I was impressed with this book: it is well written and contains a lot of practical advice and links to many ‘Lean Start Up‘ resources.