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I totally loved Ries previous book "The Lean Startup" and highly recommend it.
This is an attempt to have a sequel, but with very different results.
The basic idea of this book is - how do we implement Lean-Startup methods at the corporate environment. That's an interesting and important topic. But Ries never really did that and does not seem to be competent to do that. He assisted GE in their attempt as an outsider consultant, which is probably a great honor, highly interesting, and of great learning value. But, it is very far from his vast personal experience and community experience in startups. At some points it is getting really awkward.
E.g. he is telling about some hospital that have not been able to run their working inventory, they went to Toyota in Japan to learn and now they have this great new system called the “two bins inventory”. Well, this would have been funny if told as a joke in any manufacturing forum. “Two Bin Inventory Control” is the most basic method of keeping an inventory; it was implemented in a factory I was working for at least 25 years ago and was taught in university level inventory management at about the same time. This is not innovative or original, unless you see reading ‘the book’ and implementing the basics as innovative.
Another, maybe a lot more important example is his recurring attacks on the Stage-Gate system, which Ries somehow conceive as an enemy. It seems to me he did not really delve into the Stage-Gate methods of working and I would recommend some reading some about theory and practice before saying things that has little to do with reality. I would start with “Winning at New Products” by Cooper. At some point Ries is saying “this is not like a stage-gate system bla-bla..” and then describes his recommended method, which is basically the same as the method recommended by Cooper (I did not find any significant difference). I believe Ries just found out about Stage-Gate from people who did not understand and implement it properly. Well, when you don’t implement the basic methods, it does not make you a success and it does not make the methods wrong. BTW, I believe there is not contredition whatsoever between Stage-Gate and Lean-Startup ways. They should be integrated and implemented side-by-side. Stage-Gate is a strategic method; Lean-Startup is tactical.
One chapter that seemed very important but really far from exhausting was chapter 9 (or 11 in the audiobook) about Innovation Accounting. The basic understandings were there, but the real explanation about how to implement Innovation Accounting was about 5 minutes long and all the examples were relevant mostly for web-based software. This is not the way to deal with such an important issue, as Ries describes it. The awesome thing about accounting is that you can implement it almost the same way to any kind of industry and business. Sorry, I did not understand how you can implement the Innovation Accounting to medical devices, engines, or virtually any other manufacturing industry (BTW, GE has both Medical Devices and Engines, so Ries should have some examples in those areas after working with them for a while).
Finally, Ries took the opportunity to also add many ideas that he is playing with, that are very far from the basic idea of implementing Lean-Startup methods at the corporate environment. That’s his right to put in irrelevant stuff, and my right to say he should have had a mightier editor.
I summary, worth a critical reading and some methods will probably propagate to the industry. And I hope a few years down the road a second edition of this book will be written together with one or more manufacturing/corporate savvies who really implemented in the relevant environment.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
I enjoyed this audiobook a great deal. Don’t miss understand that. I do believe this could’ve been done in five hours as opposed to 10 hours. There was a lot of, I’ll call it, reinforcement.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful