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The Lean Startup
Cover of The Lean Startup
The Lean Startup
How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
by Eric Ries
Borrow Borrow

Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.

Eric Ries defines a startup as an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This is just as true for one person in a garage or a group of seasoned professionals in a Fortune 500 boardroom. What they have in common is a mission to penetrate that fog of uncertainty to discover a successful path to a sustainable business.
The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively. Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on "validated learning," rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.
Rather than wasting time creating elaborate business plans, The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs - in companies of all sizes - a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it's too late. Ries provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in a age when companies need to innovate more than ever.
— SmallBusinessComputing - Best Business Books

Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.

Eric Ries defines a startup as an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This is just as true for one person in a garage or a group of seasoned professionals in a Fortune 500 boardroom. What they have in common is a mission to penetrate that fog of uncertainty to discover a successful path to a sustainable business.
The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively. Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on "validated learning," rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.
Rather than wasting time creating elaborate business plans, The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs - in companies of all sizes - a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it's too late. Ries provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in a age when companies need to innovate more than ever.
— SmallBusinessComputing - Best Business Books

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Excerpts-
  • From the cover Part One
    VISION
    1 START

    ENTREPRENEURIAL MANAGEMENT

    Building a startup is an exercise in institution building; thus, it necessarily involves management. This often comes as a surprise to aspiring entrepreneurs, because their associations with these two words are so diametrically opposed. Entrepreneurs are rightly wary of implementing traditional management practices early on in a startup, afraid that they will invite bureaucracy or stifle creativity.

    Entrepreneurs have been trying to fit the square peg of their unique problems into the round hole of general management for decades. Asa result, many entrepreneurs take a "just do it" attitude, avoiding all forms of management, process, and discipline. Unfortunately, this approach leads to chaos more often than it does to success. I should know: my first startup failures were all of this kind (as we saw in the Introduction).

    The tremendous success of general management over the last century has provided unprecedented material abundance, but those management principles are ill suited to handle the chaos and uncertainty that startups must face.

    + + +

    I believe that entrepreneurship requires a managerial discipline to harness the tremendous entrepreneurial opportunity we have been given.

    There are more entrepreneurs operating today than at any previous time in history. This has been made possible by dramatic changes inthe global economy. To site but one example, one often hears commentators lament the loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States over the previous two decades, but one rarely hears about a corresponding loss of manufacturing capability. That's because total manufacturing output in the United States is increasing (by 15 percent in the last decade) even as jobs continue to be lost (see the charts below). In effect, the huge productivity increases made possible by modern management and technology have created more productive capacity than firms know what to do with.1

    We are living through an unprecedented worldwide entrepreneurial renaissance, but this opportunity is laced with peril. Because we lack a coherent management paradigm for new innovative ventures, we're throwing our excess capacity around with wild abandon. Despite this lack of rigor, we are finding some ways to make money, but for every success there are far too many failures: products pulled from shelves mere weeks after being launched, high-profile startups lauded in the press and forgotten a few months later, and new products that wind up being used by nobody. What makes these failures particularly painful is not just the economic damage done to individual employees, companies, and investors; they are also a colossal waste of our civilization's most precious resource: the time, passion, and skill of its people. The Lean Startup movement is dedicated to preventing these failures.

    THE ROOTS OF THE LEAN STARTUP
    The Lean Startup takes its name from the lean manufacturing revolution that Taiichi Ohno and Shigeo Shingo are credited with developing at Toyota. Lean thinking is radically altering the way supply chains and production systems are run. Among its tenets are drawing on the knowledge and creations of individual workers, the shrinking of batch sizes, just-in-time production and inventory control, and an acceleration of cycle times. It taught the world the difference between value-creating activities and waste and showed how to build quality into products from the inside out.

    The Lean Startup adapts these ideas to the context of entrepreneurship, proposing that entrepreneurs judge their progress differently from the way other kinds of...
About the Author-
  • ERIC RIES is an entrepreneur and author of the popular blog Startup Lessons Learned. He co-founded and served as CTO of IMVU, his third startup, and has had plenty of startup failures along the way. He is a frequent speaker at business events, has advised a number of startups, large companies, and venture capital firms on business and product strategy, and is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Harvard Business School. His Lean Startup methodology has been written about in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Business Review, the Huffington Post, and many blogs. He lives in San Francisco.


Reviews-
  • Wired

    "The Lean Startup has a kind of inexorable logic, and Ries' recommendations come as a bracing slap in the face to would-be tech moguls: Test your ideas before you bet the bank on them. Don't listen to what focus groups say; watch what your customers do. Start with a modest offering and build on the aspects of it that prove valuable. Expect to get it wrong, and stay flexible (and solvent) enough to try again and again until you get it right. It's a message that rings true to grizzled startup vets who got burned in the Great Bubble and to young filmgoers who left The Social Network with visions of young Zuckerberg dancing in their heads. It resonates with Web entrepreneurs blessed with worldwide reach and open source code. It's the perfect philosophy for an era of limited resources, when the noun optimism is necessarily preceded by the adjective cautious."

  • Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, Opsware Inc. and Netscape "I make all our managers read the The Lean Startup." --Jeffery Immelt, CEO General Electric

    "Eric has created a science where previously there was only art. A must read for every serious entrepreneur--and every manager interested in innovation."

  • Dan Heath, co-author of Switch and Made to Stick "This book should be mandatory reading for entrepreneurs, and the same goes for managers who want better entrepreneurial instincts. Ries's book is loaded with fascinating stories--not to mention countless practical principles you'll dearly wish you'd known five years ago."
  • Tom Eisenmann, Professor of Entrepreneurship, Harvard Business School
    "Ries shows us how to cut through the fog of uncertainty that surrounds startups. His approach is rigorous; his prescriptions are practical and proven in the field. The Lean Startup will change the way we think about entrepreneurship. As startup success rates improve, it could do more to boost global economic growth than any management book written in years."
  • Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Facebook and Asana
    "The Lean Startup is the book whose lessons I want every entrepreneur to absorb and apply. I know of no better guide to improve the odds of a startup's success."
    --Mitchell Kapor, Founder, Lotus Development Corp.

    "At Asana, we've been lucky to benefit from Eric's advice firsthand; this book will enable him to help many more entrepreneurs answer the tough questions about their business."
  • Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business, University of Southern California and author of the recently published, Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership.
    "Ries' splendid book is the essential template to understand the crucial leadership challenge of our time: initiating and managing growth!"
  • Tim O'Reilly, CEO O'Reilly Media "The Lean Startup isn't just about how to create a more successful entrepreneurial business, it's about what we can learn from those businesses to improve virtually everything we do. I imagine Lean Startup principles applied to government programs, to healthcare, and to solving the world's great problems. It's ultimately an answer to the question 'How can we learn more quickly what works, and discard what doesn't?'"
  • Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO
    "Eric Ries unravels the mysteries of entrepreneurship and reveals that magic and genius are not the necessary ingredients for success but instead proposes a scientific process that can be learnt and replicated. Whether you are a startup entrepreneur or corporate entrepreneur there are important lessons here for you on your quest toward the new and unknown."
  • Steve Blank, lecturer, Stanford University, U.C. Berkeley Haas Business School "The roadmap for innovation for the 21st century. The ideas in The Lean Startup will help create the next industrial revolution."
  • Professor Noam Wasserman, Harvard Business School
    "The key lesson of this book is that start-ups happen in the present--that messy place between the past and the future where nothing happens according to PowerPoint. Ries's 'read and react' approach to this sport, his relentless focus on validated learning, the never-ending anxiety of hovering between 'persevere' and 'pivot', all bear witness to his appreciation for the dynamics of entrepreneurship." --Geoffrey Moore, Author, Crossing the Chasm

    "If you are an entrepreneur, read this book. If you are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, read this book. If you are just curious about entrepreneurship, read this book. Starting Lean is today's best practice for in
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Eric Ries
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