Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works (Lean Series) 2nd Edition
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From the Publisher
|Lean Analytics||Lean Enterprise||Lean UX||UX Customer Development||Lean AI||Leading Lean|
|Find further titles in this series||Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster||How High Performance Organizations Innovate at Scale||Designing Great Products with Agile Teams||Building Products Your Customers Will Buy||How Innovative Startups Use Artificial Intelligence to Grow||Ensuring Success and Developing a Framework for Leadership|
About the Author
Ash Maurya (@ashmaurya) is the founder of USERcycle. Since bootstrapping his last company seven years ago, he has launched five products and one peer-to-web application framework. Throughout this time he has been in search of better, faster ways for building successful products. Ash has more recently been rigorously applying Customer Development and Lean Startup techniques to his products, which he frequently writes about on his blog and turned into a book: Running Lean.
Ash resides in Austin, Texas, with his wife, two children and two dogs.
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Chapter 8 in the book contains 25 pages of sage advice about successful demos that make it easier to test markets before creating actual software.
Other parts of the book cover the Lean Canvas which provide highlight of a project that will develop it.
Simply put, my advise is to create a demo along with a Lean Canvas and refine them with open-ended interviews of prospective users. The book will help convince naysayers who think they can skip the demo and serve as a checklist for moving a development project forward to attain a successful product once it reaches the market.
Unlike the other big names in the field, like Steve Blank, Eric Ries, and Alexander Osterwalder, Ash Maurya's focus is on the practical (how-to) application of the Lean Startup concepts.
The Four Steps to the Epiphany, The Lean Startup, and Business Model Generation are fantastic must-read books, but if you want a great tutorial on how to start applying the Lean Startup principles in practice, Running Lean is the book you need. It can even be very easily your introduction to the Lean Startup if you don't have time or knack for getting deeper into the theory.
The best Lean Startup book for practitioners.
I also recommend following Ash Maurya's fantastic blog posts as, among other things, they provide updates to some of the practices described in Running Lean. Remember that the this is an evolving framework, and Ash Maurya does a great job sharing (through his blog posts) all the latest learning he acquires from real-world projects.
And if you are looking for progress/success metrics that match the Lean framework, I'd highly recommend reading "Lean Analytics" by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz.
"Running Lean" and "Lean Analytics" are the two books that every product manager and every startup founder need to master the practice of Lean Startup.
At a high-level, the Running Lean framework is fairly straightforward: validate the problem. Define a solution. Validate the solution. Then develop your solution iteratively while continuing to test and validate along the way. Running Lean offers concrete, actionable instructions and templates for each step of this process.
However, the greatest flaw in this book is hinted in the language of the author's promise. Running Lean is designed more like an algorithm -- painfully detailed, comprehensive, and unemotional -- than a practical field guide for the real world. The book delves into everything from landing page design to kanban boards. In other words, in its attempt at engineering a comprehensive framework for business creation, Running Lean fails to deliver a strong set of core principles (I will revisit this later in my summary).
Another problem I have with the author's promise is that the word "metrics" is mentioned twice, when in actuality Running Lean incorporates very few metrics. In fact, it's not until the very last stage of that actual numbers are even mentioned (eg. Sean Ellis test, 40% customer retention). I found incongruence in the fact that Running Lean was characterized as algorithmic, but was largely based on qualitative experiments without discussion of potential quantitative benchmarks or test methodologies.
Since *Running Lean* is considered the de-facto field manual for Lean Startup methodology, I was eager to read it and compare it to Nail It then Scale It: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Creating and Managing Breakthrough Innovation, which I had read previously.
At a high level, NISI and Running Lean prescribe very similar methodologies. However, where Running Lean stumbles, NISI's shines. NISI's focus on simplicity makes it far more powerful and practical. For example, as a first step, NISI focuses _only_ on pain whereas Running Lean starts off with a lean canvas, which forces you to simultaneously consider other parts of the business model. NISI's "less is more" approach proves more effective, because as formulaic and well-engineered as Running Lean tries to be, the reality is that starting a company is stressful and unpredictable.
Another example of unnecessary complexity is useless jargon like "iteration meta-pattern" and "build-measure-learn loop", as well as tangential topics like usability testing, Kanban boards or an annoyingly complex definition of risk: "the way you quantify risk in your business model is by quantifying the probabilities of a specific outcome along with quantifying the associated loss if you're wrong." As a result of its complexity, the milestones in Running Lean are less concrete and powerful than NISI. NISI does a better job painting a holistic picture of common entrepreneurial fallacies, and how to breakthrough them by focusing on the most important goal -- acquiring payed customers.
I also want to highlight two methodological differences between NISI and Running Lean:
1) NISI gets you in front of customers faster. The Lean Canvas is simple, but it seems like the entire exercise should hinge on the customer pain being validated first. That gets entrepreneurs in front of customers faster, which in turn helps save time and wasted energy on the subsequent steps.
2) NISI recommends an objective, quantitative testing method for initially validating the customer pain, whereas Running Lean uses customer interviews. I would argue that as a whole, NISI approaches the startup process more objectively while Running Lean bases it on customer interviews.
Overall, I believe Running Lean is a worthwhile complement to NISI in bits and pieces. Specifically, I found its structured customer interview templates, advice on establishing pricing, and mention of the "Sean Ellis Test" to be valuable and actionable.
Top international reviews
I hope to keep using the book, its not something I intend to sell.
It would be better if it had more case studies or step-by-step processes, or handle what-ifs, or how to get buy-in from people who might not understand Lean methods
If you're looking for something that's heavy on the theoretical side of things then maybe this book isn't for you, but if you're after a practical step-by-step guide of approaching your startup using lean techniques then it doesnt get much better than this book.
He takes the Lean concepts and shows how businesses need to achieve Problem / Solution fit and then Product / Market fit before they can go for Scale.
He introduces a template called the Lean Canvas which I have used myself a number of times - which is incredibly useful for getting entrepreneurs to focus on the key things they need to have answered before starting on building a product.
A great book and well worth the read