In this article I will illustrate some books about lean and startups, both very interesting topics to look into. One book is about lean, the famous method for waste minimization and flow maximization, one is about startups and one is a combination of them.

This is Lean – Resolving the efficiency paradox

This is Lean (2011) by Niklas Modig and Pär Åhlström is an internationally recognized book about the very principles of lean. Written by two Swedes, the book is translated to five languages and I happened to read the Finnish version some years back. The book discusses the efficiency paradox, claiming that organizations tend to misunderstand the concept of “true efficiency”. The book states that organizations focus too much on using their resources efficiently, not on actual value-creating activities.

I did like this book. It’s a fairly simple read, and it is written in a concise and clear language with useful examples and illustrations. This book is great for many who are new to the concept of lean and want to increase their efficiency regardless of the type of work they do. Naturally, as the book is an introduction and illustration of lean, more research is required from the leader to dig deeper to the interesting world of lean, but this book is certainly a great point to start that journey.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

Zero to One (2011) by venture capitalist Peter Thiel is a collection of online notes taken by a Master course on startups taught by Thiel at Stanford University. Thiel’s main message is that copying other takes the world from 1 to n, but not from 0 to 1. In order to move from zero to one, new must be built, and startups are essential in this process.

I liked to read this book, both content-wise and structure-wise, even though I have not considered myself a “startup guy”. Thiel made interesting notes on startups being focused on secrets, and the tone of the book was both interesting and informative. It is true that some of the claims in the book may be questionable and this book is certainly not a manual on how to build and run startups. The reader should then perhaps realize that Thiel happens to be very successful venture capitalists, who is also very political and theoretical.

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

The Lean Startup (2011) by Eric Ries provides a concept of lean startup strategy for startup companies, thus combining the topics of lean and startups. Ries considers the Lean Startup as a movement transforming product development and launches, drawing insights and knowledge from his own experience. The Lean Startup principles can be listed as follows: Entrepreneurs are everywhere, entrepreneurship is management, validated learning, innovation accounting and build-measure-learn.

I have to admit that I might need to read this book again to have a more comprehensive reading experience. I had heard a lot of praise for this book from some business representativeness, but I did not truly get a feeling that I was expecting to get. The book certainly provides interesting and useful principles and illustrations on how things can go well or bad with product launches, general entrepreneurship and startups, but a more concise version of the principles might have been better to deliver the message.

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