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The Four Steps to the Epiphany Hardcover – July 17, 2013
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Despite these flaws the last chapter on company building is a valuable contribution to beginning entrepreneurs, if they are capable of absorbing change, taking advice and have the good fortune to have the right role models and coaches. As a serial entrepreneur in transition to mission oriented company in my fifth startup clearclinica.com I found the last chapter a well built and thoughtful roadmap for change.
Also, the examples and case-studies in the book are very nice. Some of them, I can already identify with (Eg: SUN's great start), and many I knew not - but still very apt. Postmortem on failures is a very nice way of explaining way to succeed, and Steve does a good job at it!
Some parts of the book becomes a little monotonous to read. I see some repetitions, and some very obscure text. I could actually skip some pages in between, and still get a gist of the chapters. This is the reason for 4/5 stars.
What I would also appreciate is some stories on "success" stories of startups whose founders have read this book, and have actually applied the methods explained in there. Such stories adds that extra supportive information, and first-hand accounts of success based on this book. I believe future editions of this book might contain such stories...
The second half of the book felt more like a field-book, which in nice but without the actual context is a little bit harder to keep reading as a whole publication. Notice that this is the intent of the author.
I got to this book from "The Lean Startup", you can think about this two books as "complementary"
In this volume, Steven Gary Blank introduces and then explains in thorough detail the "Customer Development" model, one that he characterizes as "a paradox because it is followed by successful startups, yet has been articulated by no one [other than Blank, prior to its initial publication in 2005]. Its basic propositions are the antithesis of common wisdom yet they are followed by those who achieve success. It is the path that is hidden in plain sight." In fact, Blank insists that what he offers is a "better way to manage startups. Those that survive the first few tough years "do not follow the traditional product-centric launch model espoused by product managers of the venture capital community." And this is also true of product launches in new divisions inside larger corporations or in the "canonical" garages.
Moreover, "through trial and error, hiring and firing, successful [whatever their nature and origin] all invent a parallel process to Product Development. In particular, the winners invent and live by a process of customer learning and discovery. I call this process `Customer Development,' a sibling to `Product Development,' and each and every startup that succeeds recapitulates it, knowingly or not." Wow! This really is interesting stuff and I haven't even begun to read the first chapter.
Few start ups succeed, most don't, and Blank notes that each new company or new product startup involves (borrowing from Joseph Campbell) a "hero's journey" that begins with an almost "mythological vision - a hope of what could be, with a goal few others can see. It is this bright and burning vision that differentiates the entrepreneur from big company CEOs and startups from existing businesses." Although Blank suggests that the aforementioned "journey" involves a four-step process, it should be noted that not one but several epiphanies or at least revelations can and - hopefully - will occur during that process, one that is multi-dimensional rather than linear, from Point A to Point Z.
These are among the dozens of reader-friendly passages I found of greatest interest and value:
o Customer Discovery Step-by-Step (Page 30)
o The Customer Discovery Philosophy (33-37)
o Customer Discovery Summary (76)
o The Customer Validation Philosophy (82-83)
o Customer Validation Summary (118)
o Customer Creation Step-by-Step (120)
o Customer Creation Philosophy (123-124)
o The Four Building Blocks of Customer Creation (129-132)
o Customer Creation Summary (157)
o Company Building Step-by-Step (158)
o The Company Building Philosophy (162-163)
o Company Building Summary (205)
No brief commentary such as mine can possibly do full justice to the scope and depth of material that Steven Gary Blank provides in this volume but I hope that I have at least suggested why I think so highly of him and his work. Also, I hope that those who read this commentary will be better prepared to determine whether or not they wish to read it and, in that event, will have at least some idea of how the information, insights, and wisdom could perhaps be of substantial benefit to them and to their own organization.
Top international reviews
Its really not a read cover to cover book but to dip in and out of when your thinking about how you practically do something.
Really a must for your shelf as a reference if your a startup leader. Also not something you can find on the net (most of the lean stuff is just basic concepts which you can glean from the net).