The Lean Startup Movement’s Guidebook: The Lean Entrepreneur

I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of the Lean Entrepreneur* and have been reading it on my commute for the past few weeks. After having spent time reading many other Lean books and blog posts, I’m excited to see this book released. In the interest of keeping a review MVP, here’s why you should, and shouldn’t read this book:

Reasons to Read the Lean Entrepreneur:

1. You’re not fully convinced to use Lean.

This book is like an FAQ on Lean. It beats down all the stereotypes (like Lean is only for software) with specific examples and thoughtful explanation.

2. You want to hear real life case studies of Lean in action.

The authors went to great lengths to get great case studies from everything from hardware companies to commercial cleaning products to prove that you can apply lean to *any type of business*.

3. You want help evaluating how you’re really doing at being Lean. 

One of the best things about this book is that between the concepts and case studies are a ton of checklists that help you see if you’re really properly evaluating your company at each step of the lean process.

Reasons to Not Read the Lean Entrepreneur:

1. You are already a 100% lean practitioner.

I’ve been doing lean basically full time for 3.5 years now and I still learned a lot. You’re bound to learn a few new things.

2. You like detailed, helpful diagrams and pictures.

Sorry, I know we’re all supposed to love @FakeGrimlock, but I’m underwhelmed by his drawings. I don’t think his drawings added much to the book or were helpful other than to give the book a lighter, more accessible feel.

3. You were hoping for the nitty-gritty details of exactly what to do.

This book won’t help you write your customer development interview script (here’s a post for that) nor help you find the phone numbers of your customers. What it will do is answer the critics’s questions and get you asking the right questions about your business.

Overall, I thought this was a solid book that adds a lot to the conversation of the evolving Lean Startup movement. I read a lot of books and this falls in at a 7.5 on my rating scale.

It goes much further and deeper into how to approach actually doing Lean in your business than Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup book. I hope that some of the people at companies with case studies in the book will share some more tactical advice that didn’t fit in this book.

The Lean Entrepreneur came out today. You can dive into Lean best practices and get your copy here.

*Disclosure: Patrick Vlaskovits is a friend of mine and he asked me to review his book.

3 thoughts on “The Lean Startup Movement’s Guidebook: The Lean Entrepreneur

  1. Thanks, Jason! I enjoyed your disclosure.

    I’ve found that it’s really easy to recognize the brilliance of the lean model, plan lean, start lean initially, but before long it’s too easy to start relapsing into old ways of thinking. I recently woke from a daze and realized I was planning big without just getting out there and testing a MVP. So I look forward to case studies of unusual start-ups, because that’s what we are.

    Kudos to these guys, it sounds like the book I was looking for six months ago.

    • Zach,

      Good to hear from you! Yes, I believe this book will help you in your endeavors and help be guideposts to when you’re on track and not.

      Good luck and enjoy!


  2. Jason, thanks for your review—I agree with your assessment. I read the book as well and found it added a couple of nice tactical tools to the Lean Startup toolkit. My favorite concept in the book was that of the Value Stream. I think the authors did a decent job of explaining how one can map & measure the movement of your customers’ perceptions of being “aware” of your product to being “passionate” (referring your business to their friends and family). Their suggestion of mapping out activities backwards from “passionate” to “aware” could be helpful in tactically building out a roadmap of activities the entrepreneur needs to focus on building and improving upon. Then, when this Value Stream has proven to succeed in converting a high percentage of the few initial test customers, the entrepreneur can then work on stuffing the top of the funnel with as many customers as it can find.

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