Eric Ries is an extraordinary entrepreneur. The innovative way in which he has launched The Lean Startup itself is testament to his incredible creativity and energy.
Anyone, whether they are in technology or any other sector, who is involved in product development, should read this book, make sure that everyone in their team has read this book and then argued over a beer about whether it applies to them. Not everyone will agree with everything he says, no doubt some people will think they know better, good luck to them.
Some people will rail against the use of terms like, ‘Pivot’, that Eric uses to describe the (entirely rational) process of discovering the market for a startup. Pivot runs the risk of being the most misunderstood and overused term in startup land as it has become a euphemisim for all sorts of things including, ‘failed’, ‘given up’ or ‘lost interest’. It is hardly Eric’s fault however that he has created and popularised a concept that powerful.
Having been involved in successful and unsuccessful startups, and unsuccessful projects in large corporations, Eric has invested an obscene amount of his time and effort into working out why there is so much wasted effort in product development. More importantly, he has come up with a very plausible hypothesis for a better way of doing things better. Measurably better.
I do have a big problem with this book and some of the language in it.
To quote Eric Ries, “So here’s my definition of a startup. A human institution designed to create something new under conditions of extreme uncertainity. And, of course, the importance of disruptive innovation in creating something that is truly different than what came before.”
For my money, that is not the definition of a startup. That is the definition of an inventor, an innovator, a startup, any business unit, product management team or organisation in the world.
Why not apply that definition to another entity?
“So here’s my definition of Apple. A human institution designed to create something new under conditions of extreme uncertainity. And, of course, the importance of disruptive innovation in creating something that is truly different than what came before.”
Apple is the largest corporation in the world. Doesn’t the definition apply equally well?
And that is the essence of my problem with this book. It is keeping some extraordinary insights into how you can make things that people love in the world of startups. Grownups need to read this. They might sneer at the concept of a pivot, it is an overused term. I can’t think of a single organisation that wouldn’t benefit from the concept of minimum viable product though. The world would be a better place if big corporations understood this. They will waste less money making stuff people don’t want.