Thursday, July 3, 2014

Book: The Lean Startup

I am sure that GE is not alone in adopting the concepts of ‘The Lean Startup’ by Eric Ries. As a GE employee I am surrounded by this, especially as a Design Engineer, especially one that works on leading-edge products and standards development. There is no internal meeting where the key-words of The Lean Startup are not spoken. So learning what these terms really mean is important.

The Lean Startup is a fantastic book. I was afraid that it would be unreasonable, too focused on the loose-and-carefree world of startups. It however is nothing of the kind. It very carefully distinguishes the methodology of The Lean Startup. It carefully shows how to use and when not to use the methodology.

What is very nice about the book is the narrative methodology. For each topic covered it includes an illustrative example or two. Often including a failure case in addition to a successful case. Adding to the credibility the author uses his failures most of the time.

I work in a Medical Device vendor, that is highly structured around ‘the waterfall’ design methodology. The clear apparent conflict between this and The Lean Startup methodology are covered. Turns out this has been thought through, and there are ways to get the best of both worlds.

I highly suggest reading the whole book. I learned stuff that is just not learnable through the Executive overview or common training. In reading the book I learned that many people are using the terminology wrong, while others are using it right. The most abused word is “Pivot” and “MVP”. I now can distinguish people just using the buzzwords from those that are using the proper concepts. I am now much more comfortable with the business and design organization changes; as they are clearly using the proper concepts.

Lucky for me GE has a book service where I can get these business purpose books free. The cool part is that most of these books come in audio form, or e-book form. I got this one in audio form, which is not as nice as Their audio form is a bunch of MP3 files. This would have been nice with my old MP3 player, but now days I am using an iPhone-5. I couldn’t figure out how to get simple MP3 files to the iPhone, I refuse to load iTunes. So I ended up with a web based hack. Ultimately this hack didn’t hurt too bad. The MP3 files were all about an hour and a half long, just perfect for my workout. Added benefit is the book is read by the author.