The Lean Startup — Eric Ries (2011)

I’m currently writing up a series of mini book reviews relevant to tech, entrepreneurship and investing (stuff I like). Many of these books may seem like obvious reading choices, but I often get asked what I have read. This is one of them. I read it a while back and think you should too, if you haven’t already!

It is easy to see this book becoming the seminal text in innovation, entrepreneurship, and yes: startups (in fact, it probably already has). It takes us through the definition of a start-up (which may sound trivial but some of us like precision), the principles of The Lean Startup method and the journey beyond.

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

So many institutions are startups — innovating and operating under uncertainty. Ergo, Ries’s principles are appropriate for institutions of all shapes, sizes and maturities.

I’m sure there will be different take-away lessons for everyone who reads this book, also depending on what they are looking to get out of it. I reckon there’s something in it for CEOs/management, students, engineers/developers, investors and most certainly entrepreneurs. It’s one of those texts that, when re-read at a pivotal business moment, could provide a different insight or inspiration.

My first take-away was about not waiting to get your product perfect and release the bare essentials and get feedback from early adopters or key customer base: Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Learning from the feedback and iterating the product development is an ongoing loop that forms The Lean Startup model.

My second take-away was about intrapreneurs — those innovators within a larger (potentially behemoth) institution who are innovating and applying the model within. Large corporates have no excuses not to experience innovation.

I created my own cheat-sheet with key words, phrases and flow charts while reading this book (because I like mind maps and visuals, I’m also aware that there are plenty of infographics about the book online). I personally believe that this has helped me on my perpetual journey to become a better analyst of innovative companies. I recommend this book to anyone who has even the mildest interest in the current positively disruptive movement.