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Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works (Lean (O'Reilly)) 2nd Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 688 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1449305178
ISBN-10: 1449305172
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  • Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works (Lean (O'Reilly))
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Exclusive Interview with Ash Maurya, Author of Running Lean

Q. Why is your book "Running Lean" especially important now?
We live at a time where we have so much power at our fingertips, where we are building more products than ever before. But the odds of building successful products haven't gone up. We're simply building more stuff nobody wants. What we need is a systematic process for quickly vetting and building successful products. That is the promise of "Running Lean."

Q. What is the top reason startups fail?
Most startups fail, not because they fail to build the product they want to build, but they fail to find a market for their product before running out of resources.

Q. What reason do you attribute for this failure?
Entrepreneurs are typically most passionate about their solution and often spend a disproportionate amount of time perfecting their solution only to find they were optimizing something nobody wanted.

Q. What do founders need to start doing now in order to achieve success?
The first step is shifting their mindset. The "true product" of a startup is not the solution, but the business model. Once founders start thinking of the business model as "the product," they start prioritizing risks differently. The key to building a successful product is maximizing learning about what's riskiest per unit time. Sometimes that's the underlying solution, but often times it's not.

Q. Describe the top tactical technique for systematically building a startup in today's economy?
A core part of the process is identifying what's riskiest and then doing the smallest thing possible to test that risk. From this principle you can derive specific tactics to fit your particular product. For instance, in the book I argue that you can initially test a lot of what's risky without building the product first using proxies like customer interviews, mockups, and videos.


"Ash has put together a book I wish I'd read before pursuing my own startup. The level of detail, including case studies and practical applications, make this book a resource worthy of sitting on every aspiring entrepreneur's shelf."
-Rand Fishkin, CEO and Cofounder, SEOmoz; Coauthor, The Art of SEO

"Ash has laid out a clear compass for anyone to validate their ideas, solve real problems and create a successful business. I'd encourage this book to anyone trying to get a business off the ground."
- Noah Kagan, Chief Sumo of AppSumo.com

"Lean concepts are exciting but it's hard to know what to actually do. Ash not only gives advice but makes it practicable--this is the first comprehensive guidebook for how to execute a Lean Startup."
- Jason Cohen, founder of WP Engine & Smart Bear.

"Ash provides compelling, actionable guidance for applying lean principles to a startup. His startup canvas changed the way I think about my own startup. This book is a valuable guide whether you are a serial entrepreneur or a first time founder."
- Sean Ellis, Founder & CEO of CatchFree

"Easily one of the best technical books on Lean Startup ever written. Period. End of point. Done."
- Dan Martell, Founder of Clarity.fm & Angel Investor
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Product Details

  • Series: Lean (O'Reilly)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 2 edition (March 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449305172
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449305178
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (688 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
This book is a concise guide that helps you take immediate action in using lean startup and customer development principles. More simply, as the subtitle states, it shows you how to "Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works". The book opens with a brief chapter on the principles behind Lean Startup and Customer Development. For each chapter after that, Ash describes what you will learn, shows you clearly what you need to do, and what decisions you need to make.

The book's chapters are:

1. Meta-Principles
2. Running Lean Illustrated
3. Create Your Lean Canvas
4. Prioritize Where to Start
5. Get Ready to Experiment
6. Get Ready to Interview Customers
7. The Problem Interview
8. The Solution Interview
9. Get to Release 1.0
10. Get Ready to Measure
11. The MVP Interview
12. Validate Customer Life Cycle
13. Don't Be a Feature Pusher
14. Measure Product/Market Fit
15. Conclusion
Appendix - Bonus Material - comments and insights on topics including: building a slow burn startup, thoughts on premature funding, achieving flow, pricing models, teaser and landing pages, sales letters, continuous deployment, conversion dashboards

Throughout the book, Ash shows when and how to use methods for activities like: business model planning, interviewing customers, setting up tests for hypotheses, pricing, determining your Minimum Viable Product (MVP), forming hypotheses and conducting tests.

The book isn't just theory. Ash moves beyond the discussion and rationale for using Lean Startup methods which Eric Ries covers in his book
...Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
I've read several books in this field, The Lean Startup, Making Ideas Happen, The Art of Start, and Running Lean is always the first book I recommend to any entrepreneur. It's that great of a book.

What makes this book standout is that there's great intellectual depth behind the concepts and ideas Ash presents but written in a clear, practical manner that makes it easy to follow. If you're debating between Running Lean or The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, definitely start with Ash's first. Here's an example why - Eric advocates doing customer discovery, i.e. talking with customers, and discusses the benefits of doing so. Ash does that and goes further by giving you the actual tactics on how to do so. Where to find those potential customers, how to reach out to them, and even a template of the questions to ask them. That's the beauty of his book, it goes beyond the "why" and gives you the specific hows to execute.

The other big benefit of this book is the structure of the content as it's a linear storyline. There's a quick overview, and then Ash starts going from an idea to validating it incrementally into a successful, product that's structured for growth. So you only need to read up to the point your venture is at. That itself follows the idea within the book of "Right Action, Right Time" which puts more of your time taking your venture to the next stage.

This is a 5 star book and worth every penny.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'll begin my summary by quoting the author's promise: "Running Lean is a repeatable, actionable process for building products, one that raises your odds for success by helping your identify your success metrics and measure progress against those metrics."

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is one of the essential books for lean startup practitioners. It isn't theory. You can tell these are real lessons from Ash's own experience running lean startups. This book is very prescriptive; telling you specific things to accomplish. The one thing I found really valuable was the focus on how to map out your startup using the one page "lean canvas". After reading this book, I really got it and elevated my lean startup game.
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