Every so often a business book comes along that changes how we think about innovation and entrepreneurship. Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup is one of them.
Ries’s book evolved out of his experiences as a technology entrepreneur, which led to a well-read blog and invitations to advise all kinds of companies, from start-ups to Fortune 100 enterprises, all struggling with the same problems of starting and building something new.
Ries argues that start-ups tend to be much higher-risk endeavours than they need to be. Entrepreneurs in every setting make the same mistakes. They build elaborate products before daring to test them with consumers. They make decisions based on the wrong information, and they stick with bad ideas long after they should. Their behaviour is supported by the entrepreneurial myths of innovators who persisted through endless rejection eventually to be validated by success. These rare cases, Ries writes, lead many to unnecessary failure.The Lean Startup approach relies on “validated learning,” rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.
Rather than wasting time creating elaborate business plans, The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs in companies of all sizes a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it’s too late. Ries provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in an age when companies need to innovate more than ever.
Unlike so many authors in this field, Ries writes clinically and intelligently, without hoopla. He wishes businesses could innovate with less waste… a noble wish, and one his book should help fulfil.