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Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - 2012 Book Review: "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries
"The Lean Startup"
by Eric Ries
Reviewed by Julie Gustafson

It is the perfect time to do our book review on Eric Ries' "The Lean Startup." Currently, the Macomb-OU INCubator is running a Lean Green Belt Certificate class that is filled to capacity. Among other benefits, the class is teaching organization leaders and staff how to align their resources for the best chance of success. The INCubator is also in the process of developing a new StartUp Lean class, under the premises, "do not wait to become Lean, start Lean." The StartUp Lean class will be ready to run this fall.

Eric Ries' book, although titled "The Lean Startup," is not only about startups; he addresses Lean just as much in industry giants as he does in startups. He emphasizes the importance of "validated learning" when creating new products and services, well before their completion. In other words, do not create a new product and assume your customer is going to like all aspects of it. Develop hypothesis about your product and test along the way. Ultimately, this will lead to efficiencies in development and a better chance of a positive end result for your customer.

The last thing an industry giant or a startup needs to do is dump untold amounts of money into a product only to find out that it does not entirely meet their customers' needs. The costs to go back to the drawing board might be insurmountable. However, if an organization builds its products in increments and receives customer feedback along the way, they are much more apt to produce a marketable finished product.

Ries' book is a must-read for anybody in business. He cites excellent examples of how continuous innovation is key to a company's success. He also gives a very honest portrayal of the many mistakes he made along the way with one of his own startups, IMVU. He shows how time spent truly learning what his customer wanted, not what he thought they wanted, turned his company around.