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Please review my book: Running Lean (roughcut)
85 points by ashmaurya on Dec 6, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 12 comments
Running Lean = Customer Development + Lean Startups + Bootstrapping

Download link: http://www.runningleanhq.com/downloads/running_lean_rc.pdf

I made lots of comments on the draft (up until p. 70) on crocdoc: https://crocodoc.com/g30tgl. They should have been added by "Zach".

My general takeaway: You have something great here. I believe that what you have to say is largely valuable. Even if what you're saying isn't necessarily unique (in that it was derived from previous models), the way in which the book is framed is. The reconciliation of Customer Development and the Business Model Canvas with web-based startups is something that I've been looking for, and trying myself, since I read both books a few months ago. I look forward to Parts 2 and 3 (I believe they were omitted from this draft, yes?).

Two main points of constructive criticism:

- The structure of the book is problematic. Many of the headers and sub-headers are very similar, if not the same, which makes the book difficult to browse for content or to find your place. Furthermore, I believe that the chapters should be numbered. This would obviously conflict with your segmentation of the "Parts" of the book, but that could be rectified by using "Part A, Part B, etc.", and using numbers for chapters.

- There is too much summarization. I feel like there are topics that are first brought up in a list, then 10 pages later summarized in a more specific list, then 10 pages later expanded upon, then 20 pages later discussed upon in their own section (This is obviously hyperbole, but it's the feeling that I get). The introduction, for instance, begins with the section "What is Running Lean?" What immediately follows are a few paragraphs that the reader will naturally take as the answer to the proposed question. Running Lean, then, is "a systematic process for iterating from Plan A to a plan that works." But, near the end of the chapter, we are faced with a sub-section, also entitled "What is Running Lean?" From here we learn that Running Lean is actually the synthesis of "3 core methodologies: Customer Development, Lean Startup, and Bootstrapping". I suggest introducing all of this in the same spot. Reduce redundancy; reduce waste. :-)

I will keep adding comments as I read the book (they are mostly comments about wording/grammar issues), and will post here again if my general feelings towards the book change. For any clarification, my email address is available in my profile.

Best of luck!


The structure is something I've struggled with. There is certainly a battle in my mind between a chronological presentation of "the methodology" and building sufficient background context.

This is the first structure that made sense but your comments of poor navigation and too much summarization are right on. I will try and find a better flow for the next iteration.

Parts 2 and 3 are still being written. I wanted to put out what I had so far and really appreciate the detailed markup you did on crocdoc.


I read the whole thing and enjoyed it. I do feel that I can't give your "Lean Canvas" an honest appreciation unless I sit down and actually do one for my startup, but that's something I'd like to do after reading your book.

Is the book a lead-in for using your software? It wasn't clear to me after reading it that Lean Canvas was part of a web application that presumably costs $49/month. I think that should probably be at the beginning. Obviously, you can use the methodology without the web application, but maybe tie it in earlier somehow?

One suggestion for page 94 - from an SEO perspective, I'd suggest that you blog at http://www.yourcompany.com/blog instead of http://blog.yourcompany.com/ because the link juice doesn't transfer across domain names.

Thanks jefflinwood.

The book isn't a lead-in to LeanCanvas and I was/am conscious about not making the example in the book self-promotional. I wanted to pick a "real" example to which readers could relate and one that I had recently built. The software would most likely be bundled with the book. As a standalone it wouldn't cost $49/mo but more like $14/mo (still early to tell).

Thanks for the SEO tip.

If you'd like early access to LeanCanvas, please drop me a line ash@wiredreach.com

Not sure I agree with the point on page 69 about not spending time on developing strategic relationships. Those things take forever to build and it's really a good idea to start working on them early just to start the clock.

Part of our distribution strategy is AppExchange on Salesforce platform. We have both a small business product and product more geared for enterprise sales teams.

I have a fairly large customer who is using my product, which gives me the social proof I need when talking to these people, but it should be possible to do it even earlier.

The idea is to engage with enterprise sales reps and stay in touch with them, not to simply say "Our product would be a wonderful fit with your customers" and make it the end of the conversation. It's important to ask "Who is the most appropriate person within your organization that I should be in touch with regarding this matter".

I wouldn't spend a lot of time on early strategic relationships, but it is possible to identify strong fit quickly. The challenge is to start the conversation how your product can help their existing customers. "When was the last time your customer complained about..."

Why is the introduction 48 pages long? Let's be honest and realize that your readers already know a lot about the lean startup concept. You may want to mention using mindmapping as an effective means of filling out the canvas. That's how I do it anyway with freemind and tortoisesvn.

Next, you start talking about content marketing and right away jump into "Revenue streams and cost structure". Since there is no clear (enough) delineation where the chapters start and end, that's a disconnect.

What I liked about the book is your specific early interview strategies. That is probably the most useful part.

In summary, notwithstanding its "bloggy" style that needs serious copy editing and restructuring, I learned enough from the book to pay you something. :)

I am also very impressed with crocodoc. That you for introducing it to me, zach. I would put that link into your initial post.

Hi, I read almost half of your book and I like most of the stuff. Please add more examples of your statements, more case studies, more data, like in the book Start Small, Stay Small by Rob Walling

The images interspersed throughout the text are blurry, too blurry for my taste. They need to be crisp and clear.

Sounds good, I'll try to find time to give it a read and offer my thoughts.

link to more comments on your original thread http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1976698

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