Caution! Caution! Caution! be very careful of the advice above. I doubt the Lean Startup has been actually read or fully understood based on the synopsis. It's common for detractors to have only picked up parts of the advice in the book (usually from other sources than the book) and not considered the entirety of the advice. It's also important to remember the context that the book was written when waterfall was the "conventional" wisdom. There are very good reasons why this book is popular and recognised as a very important text when developing your entrepreneurial skills. Is it perfect, No. Has the body of knowledge moved on in the last 10 years or so, Yes. However the content deserves to be considered and reflected on as you develop your toolkit. I was lucky enough to have Eric as a Mentor on a programme before he published the book. It's a complete misconception that he did not believe in customer interviews, he encouraged us to get out and talk to customers every day, however he encouraged us to do that in a structured manner. In true lean fashion he believed that insights were to be found at the "Gemba" - the real place where the work actually happened. What he didn't believe in was doing research with those that were not there, didn't feel the pain of what we were trying to solve (like talking to the buyers or managers rather than end users), doing endless desk research without getting close to the actual users, or being lazy about finding a way to measure if we were making a difference or not for our customers. Again I was lucky enough to work with Rob Fitz as he developed his thinking before he published his book. The Mom test should be considered as a companion to the lean process, not an either or, nor is it the Bible. The heart of the Lean Startup Thesis is that entrepreneurship is a management science and is not simply luck, this means that learning should be validated, customer feedback loops should be shortened as much as possible and innovators need to focus on the boring stuff of how to measure progress and how to prioritise work. My advise, read the lean startup it's a classic. There is no single Bible out there, it's an important read but is complimentary to the Mom Test, Business Model Generation, Running Lean, The Agile Manifesto and many other great texts.

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Hey Rory, I've read The Lean Startup cover to cover 3 times since 2014 and spent part of the past 7 years including it in my workshops for founders and PMs. The essay is based on my experience both as a founder and workshop facilitator putting The Lean Startup into practice.

I stand by the essay's premise that the book contains useful principles only for post-PMF startups in a scaling stage with the resources to validate product assumptions through MVP-experimentation. Otherwise, The Lean Startup is simply not a good resource for early-stage, pre-PMF founders and deserves to be relegated from the back-catalog of startup books (it certainly doesn't get included in any of my advice to founders anymore).

Thanks for taking the time to share your alternative point of view, although the dramatic intro and attempt to discredit was a bit over the top :)

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Hi Daniel, as they say, glasshouses and throwing stones. Have a read back on your own article and perhaps you might see a dramatic intro and an attempt to discredit with a bit of over the top writing, but perhaps without the clickbait you might have got no response :-). Honestly, I would suggest you read the Lean startup carefully again and do a bit of research into what Reis was trying to get entrepreneurs to think about when he wrote the book and his blog before it was published. It's uncanny how close it is to what you are writing about now. The key thesis in the Lean startup is not product MVP's, that's only one of a number of tactics he talks about, it's the principle of taking a scientific based approach to proving or disproving a hypothesis and developing it through learning (iterations). It's a common misconception that the LS is only about product MVP's which is not the case at all. Under his mentorship we did desk research to prove or disprove the size of the market, we did phone interviews to prove or disprove the level of pain that prospects felt about the problem, we did in person interviews to get feedback on the VP and if it solved the customers pain, we did smoke tests with Adwords and a landing page to see if anyone would have enough pain or even care enough to click on an ad, we did paper sketch low fidelity concepts and stepped through them with real users in person and carefully watched how they responded. We followed up with more higher fidelity balsamiq prototypes and learned more. Constantly taking to and listening carefully to exactly what (and how) customers said things and proving or disproving our theories and this was ever before Rob wrote about how to do interviews in his Mom test. We did all this and more before any kind of a product was coded, but when we did code we started with the bits of the product that solved the pain first and tried to see if they did what we assumed it would. The key however is it was alway focused on proving or disproving our key hypothesis. If you are an early stage pre PMF company, you have to prove with data (of some sort) as quickly as possible whether your great idea is in fact great or not, otherwise you are simply guessing (and the best data is always if solving the pain is worth enough €'s). I don't know where Eric ever said that qualitative data is not data, it's just that good qualitative data takes a lot of expertise to avoid bias. Quantitative data is easier to understand and often easier to collect with modern tools if you are a founder who is from another field and has not really been trained in research. What he was trying to get us to avoid above all, was the build it and they will come mentality, where product "experts" believed they knew exactly what the customer wanted and specified a complete product workflow and then wondered why very few were willing to part with any money when the product came out of stealth mode. Now of course I don't believe that simply applying the LS principles will guarantee success, its just another tool in the box, but it is a very valid tool particularly pre PMF. Appreciate you might have a different view and that is fine but the facts are that thousands and thousands of great companies were built at pre PMF stage in the past 12 years or so using this framework and that is one of the reasons they still exist and unsurprisingly, that the book is so popular. Even today it should be on every entrepreneurs bookshelf.

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