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The Lean Entrepreneur: How Visionaries Create Products, Innovate with New Ventures, and Disrupt Markets by Eric Ries, Patrick Vlaskovits, Brant Cooper

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Lean Startup, Please Meet the Lean Entrepreneur

Our goal is to help entrepreneurs apply lean startup. To do so, let’s take a quick step back and make sure we’re starting from a common point.

The lean in lean startup does not mean small startup, or a startup with no money or no vision.

It comes from lean manufacturing as represented by the Toyota Production System. Basically, lean manufacturing is about optimizing efficiency in all value-added activities and minimizing or eliminating all non-value-added activities, where value added means providing value to customers. Customers include both the final user of the product and internal customers who link activities through the lifecycle of product development and delivery.28

Critically, optimization that adversely affects value being provided is not lean. Also inherent in the Toyota Production System is the concept of continuous learning and continuous improvement.

Many discussions about lean fail to capture several key points:

  • You cannot deliver value without marketing and selling it.
  • The complexity of value creation means lean processes are often more efficient than traditional methods.
  • Aiming at perfection is not a fluffy or spiritual platitude.

It’s interesting that, whereas most lean discussion and implementation focuses on product development processes (manufacturing, for example), if you look at the product from the customer’s point of view, they couldn’t care less about the product development process. Hopefully the customer’s ...

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