the startup way

Review of The Startup Way by Eric Ries

At a certain point, when your transformation has grown powerful enough to affect an entire company, when it has totally won out over whatever culture it was designed to replace, it is also itself too big for radical changes.

What is the book about?

The Startup Way is written by Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup.

This purpose of The Startup Way is to start with the Lean Startup principles and apply them in an enterprise context to make organisations move toward a leaner, more iterative way of working. This book provides the blueprint for transforming an organisation to rekindle its entrepreneurial spirit that is capable of finding new sources of growth for the long-term. Obviously, The Lean Startup is required reading (among other books) for The Startup Way to be really effective.

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What does this book cover?

The Startup Way has three parts.

The first part about traditional management and its failings, the need for something new and the rise of entrepreneurial management. The second part talks about the roadmap for transformation, how does it affect all functions in an organisation, the challenges and opportunities. The third part about what to do once the transformation is “complete”.

What did I like?

The Startup Way provides an excellent and insightful look at transforming an organisation along lean startup principles. I liked it due to its reliance on experience and ideas.

Eric Ries has used real life examples from his time at GE and healthcare.gov (predominantly) to explain how lean startup principles can apply even in large, well established enterprises. He gives the example of an engine that has been developed by following a MVP process which boggles ones mind. This experience from the trenches makes the content relatable and believable.

The book itself is full of new ideas and concepts which will take some time to grok. For example: the chapter on innovation accounting was fascinating and gives us a totally different perspective on startup valuations and metrics.

There are plenty of models and checklists to give the reader a good sense of what has to be done and when. For example: I really liked his 5 principles behind the Startup Way. These are Continuous Innovation, Startup as Atomic Unit of Work, the Missing Function, The Second Founding and Continuous Transformation.

At the end, Eric Ries also talks about what to do once the transformation is “done”. He says that the transformation is never done; rather we are in the stage of continuous transformation at that point.

What did I not like?

The Startup Way is not an easy read. It is so full of content that there are portions that need a separate work of their own. It definitely needs multiple read-throughs.

My Recommendation

I strongly recommend this book. If you are remotely interested in Lean Startup and transforming organizations (either your own or as a consultant), you ought to read this book.

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Also published on Medium.