I had heard about the book “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries through peers, people I met through networking, and even co-workers. Finally, I had heard so much about it that I went to Amazon.com and ordered a copy. Long story short: I learned so much more in the three evenings it took me to read through the whole book and making notes about it, than I would dare say most of my college literature.
“She’s exaggerating” or, “she’s fishing for a compliment from the author” some may say, but no. I truly do mean it. But let me be entirely clear about it. I say this because most of my college literature always had to do with international business or traditional marketing strategies (think “Mad Men” meets 21st century). It never really had a whole product development meets marketing and strategy process enclosed in a single book, much less with the scientific method as its poster child.
In my days of college, especially because I majored in Marketing, all business plans and ideas needed to be preceded and based on simple forecasts at least, although market research and a proper study would be the best methods to have a clear idea of what the customer wants. But here’s the one line of information in “The Lean Startup” that came to antagonize that: “The customer doesn’t know what she or he wants“. And it’s not just because a celebrated book mentions that phrase that all of a sudden it makes it true. My experience as a digital marketer made me confirm that realization in my mind.
The next realization that I found myself embedding in my own brain was the fact that no matter if you’re a big enterprise, a startup, a technology-related industry or any other industry, this method if for you to constantly seek innovation in your own field of expertise. Ries’ definition of a startup is as follows: “A startup is a human institution designed to create new products and services under conditions of extreme uncertainty”.
The entire Lean Startup model by Eric Ries is based on scientific method applied to startups. It is also inspired on Toyota’s lean manufacturing method (ever heard about “Just in time”?). As you can imagine, there is an infinite measured process of learning and iterating, making this an everlasting learning loop. That means that it’s not enough to innovate today and relax tomorrow. Innovation is a constant process, otherwise, you get to a point in which innovation is just a commodity.
Phrases like “Genchi Gembutsu” (go see for yourself in Japanese), or “get out of the building and start learning” by Steve Blank are the core believes in this book. You see, in order to learn, you need to go out there and experience for yourself and take a look with your own two eyes of how your idea or product can adapt to the real world. In your mind, your business idea or product is probably the best thing you’ve ever though about. However, even though it might be the next great thing, people may not relate to it, or modifications need to be made; your mind is set on a certain idea, your target market might not. Who do you think you should listen to, then?
Of course, learning realities mean nothing unless you actually do something about it. That is why each time you learn something new, you must do the appropriate arrangements for the product to meet that new knowledge. Then experiment with that new version, measure its success and start over again, constantly. It may sound like an exhausting process. You may be right, but in the long run, if you establish a process, then things can go more smoothly, rendering results faster and with less effort.
In conclusion, it doesn’t matter if you are an employee or an entrepreneur, this book can change your working days and even your lifestyle. If this method is good for the workplace, why not take it as daily learning in your life?