Lean Analytics

Review of Lean Analytics by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz

Measuring something makes you accountable. You’re forced to confront inconvenient truths. And you don’t spend your life and your money building something nobody wants

What is the book about?

Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Startup Faster is written by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskowitz. It is part of the ‘Lean Startup’ series started by Eric Ries in his seminal book ‘The Lean Startup’. In a nutshell, Lean Analytics focuses on the ‘measure’ portion of the Build-Measure-Learn cycle.

I had an opportunity to present on this topic (whose content I borrowed almost wholly from this book). You can see the recorded video on this topic here or download the PDF here. If you are new to the Lean Startup, I would recommend reading that book first before picking this one up.

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What does this book cover?

Lean Analytics is arranged in a sequential fashion. The topics covered are as follows

  • The need for metrics
  • The concept of the One Metric That Matters
  • 6 business models and how current analytics applies to them
    • E-commerce
    • SaaS
    • Free Mobile App
    • Media Site
    • User-generated Content
    • Two-sided Marketplaces
  • The Lean Analytics Framework
  • How does the Lean Analytics Framework apply to the 6 business models
  • What are the baselines for these business models
  • Putting the framework into action

What did I like?

Lean Analytics helps plug in the missing gap in the Build-Measure-Learn cycle. While there is a lot of literature on how to build and what to build, there isn’t enough on figuring out whether you are meeting expectations or not.

The book is structured in a fashion that makes it easy for us to just read what is relevant to us. For example: in my second read-through (sic!), I focused on the user-generated content and mobile app portions alone since I had built those already and therefore, could relate to what was being said. Also, I think the choice of these 6 models is great since it covers most of the use-cases out there. Either people will be looking to build/building/built something similar or would have used examples of these models extensively.

The second thing that I like about this book is that it is chock full of useful information. Even if we are not planning to build something, the framework and the thought process are great takeaways for us, regardless of the role we play professionally. There are a lot of real life examples which explain these concepts very well.

What did I not like?

A minor nitpick. While there are tons of examples, there is no over-arching case study(s) in this book. I tried to do this with my presentation by using my site as an example. And the prevalent feedback was that this made understanding the concepts well.

My Recommendation

I strongly recommend this book. If you are remotely interested in Lean Startup or are in a role that demands metrics or just want your mind to be blown, read this. I would put this next to Lean Startup in terms of importance alone.

Lean Analytics is not an easy read. I had to read the book multiple times before I could start connecting the dots. This is more due to its vast scope and not how it is written. I would suggest doing a quick read through first. Then, pick a model and read that part closely the second time around. This will make it easier to grok.

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Also published on Medium.