Running Lean Book Review

One of the things that strikes me about the book Running Lean is how practical almost all of the advice is. It’s not a long book, but it gave me great breadth of knowledge in to the aspects of running a lean business. It’s not a massive step from most of the good Toyota books on lean but it does have a different angle (more start-up company focused) and it does make many of the lean ideas easier to understand.

I really liked the way the author focused on the Lean Canvas idea for distilling and communicating ideas about your business. It sometimes felt overkill but overall it was useful and I’ve already seen some value from having a go at writing down my ideas.

The book also serves as a way of questioning your ideas about your business with particular respect to whether or not you have an audience that will actually buy your products.

For example the author, Ash-Maurya, states:

“Failing to build a significant path to customers is among the top reasons why startups fail”

Throughout the book Ash talks a lot about finding the right audience and the right product – it’s the basics of getting success in the market – but Ash also talks a lot about why it’s important to only build the minimum to satisfy this audience and market needs.

There is some talk about work in progress, Kanban boards and daily flow, but not enough to make it worth buying this book just for those topics. Instead, this book takes a more holistic approach across many functions and elements of a business so it glances over many topics but does give a nice wide view of running a lean business.

There are some interesting work hacks (i.e. – how to get stuff done) in the book also but again, there are other books with more depth in time management, productivity and work ethics.

I don’t believe this book is for those wanting a deep dive on certain areas of running a successful and lean business. Instead I believe it is for those who want an introduction and some techniques, tools and models to use to decide, plan and act on their business, and for this audience this book is very good indeed.

There are some interesting ideas and insights in to how to get continuous flow working in your business as well as ideas on how to ensure you’re best prepared to ship software.

I really enjoyed this book but I think that if you read around lean anyway you will already have gained most of these insights. Saying that, the Lean Canvas is a neat tool for helping you think about and organise your thoughts around your business. It can certainly help you drive out the audience for your business and some of the ideas around what it is you are offering and for what price.

Overall a pretty good book. Very well written too and great for those who are thinking about heading down the lean route or are looking for ways to optimise their existing business.

This review was part of the O’reilly blogger review programme.

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