I have wanted to read Lean Startup for a while. I didn’t know much about the book, you hear it recommended a lot and lean, that’s good right? The book is good from my perspective as a software engineer, it provides some good perspective and a vocabulary.

The book’s main thesis is that a startup isn’t so much about executing as it is about figuring out as quickly and cheaply as possibly what the customer will actually want. As an engineer we fall into the trap that if we build this perfectly designed, scalable application using the latest technology then the effort is sure to be a winner. The author, Eric Ries, lays out how this isn’t helpful and gives lots of great examples to support his idea.

One concept I thought was great was the concierge minimum viable product. It doesn’t fit all startups but basically, if possible, you have humans do the work that computers would have done. Like if it were Google Maps

Silicon Valley

You’ll likely recognize the scenarios he describes or imagine where a business would have done better had it applied some of the things Lean Startup suggests. One thing that was funny is that as I read the book I thought about the HBO show Silicon Valley. As the last season wound down you would see them begin what will probably be a zoom-in pivot towards a small feature they worked on in the hopes that focusing on that will support their venture.

For the Software Engineer

The book is a good read for software engineers. Lots of acknowledgement of good agile and lean practices. There was a good discussion of small batch sizes and why it’s good to release things in small amounts.

He also favors a data-driven metrics approach to understand if you are on the right track. He goes into how tracking the wrong data can be harmful, is sometimes goosed (again like in Silicon Valley) and too often the wrong data is left to interpretation. Lean Startup also talks about vanity metrics and gathering the right kind of metrics. He favors cohort analysis but doesn’t go into much detail about it.