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Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster Hardcover – Mar 21 2013
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About the Author
Alistair Croll has been an entrepreneur, author, and public speaker for nearly 20 years. He’s worked on a variety of topics, from web performance, to big data, to cloud computing, to startups, in that time.
In 2001, he co-founded web performance startup Coradiant, and since that time has also launched Rednod, CloudOps, Bitcurrent, Year One Labs, the Bitnorth conference, the International Startup Festival and several other early-stage companies.
Alistair is the author of three books on web performance, analytics, and IT operations, including "Lean Analytics" http://leananalyticsbook.com/, a book on using data to build a better business faster that's due out in March from O'Reilly Media. He lives in Montreal, Canada and tries to mitigate chronic ADD by writing about far too many things at "Solve For Interesting": http://www.solveforinteresting.com. Alistair chairs O'Reilly's Strata Conference.
Benjamin Yoskovitz is a serial entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience in web businesses. The co-founder of Standout Jobs and Year One Labs, he is also an active mentor to numerous startups and startup accelerators. Ben is the author of "Instigator Blog" (instigatorblog.com), and regularly speaks at startup conferences. He's currently VP Product at GoInstant, which was acquired by Salesforce in 2012.
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Top Customer Reviews
As the Founder & CEO of an 8-year old startup (iLiv.com), I have read, and re-read, all of the best startup and technology business books. This is the best book that I have right now, and the most applicable to my business.
The things that set this book apart are:
* It sends a message of calm. Too much startup writing spreads a nervous tension that I find bad for the brain. This book spreads considered thinking and confidence.
* The ideas in the book are easily mapped to a realizable process. Which is quite a trick, because there are many different situations that different readers will be in. Does this sound familiar?: Over the last 8 years, I have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to remap others' processes to iLiv's particular challenges; usually with just enough success to keep me going down the wrong path for far too long.
* Although not directly procedural, the writing is pragmatic. It is about how to think followed by what to do, and what to do next after that, and so on, with flexibility and pertinence.
* The work is creative, in the way that any work that exposes essence and relationships to the participants is creative.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Altogether, I'd read other books instead of this one: Web Analytics 2.0 does a much better job of covering analytics methodologies and techniques; Lean Startup gives a better overview of the Lean approach; Innovator's Dilemma is a much better look at how to think through startup issues.
So now if you want to have more chances of success and also to fail fast in a startup or a new business inside a great corporation you have the tools and techniques available. I strongly recommend at least the following books (read in order):
1 - The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
2 - Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works (Lean (O'Reilly)) by Ash Maurya
3 - The Startup Owner's Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company by Steve Blank
4 - Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster by Croll and Yoskovitz
José Papo, from Brazil
This book is far more useful than any other business book I have seen or heard of, with the exception of Ash's book. It takes the science of data collection and analysis to a whole new level, showing exactly how to calculate ROI of any business idea, pricing strategy, or marketing campaign. One of the key points of this book is that mistakes and failures are not the enemy - information blindness is. This point alone, if applied correctly, could prevent thousands of great ideas from being tossed in the scrap heap of history. And this book will tell you everything you need to know to make that happen.
Save your MBA money, buy this book, and start now! And in six years when your friends are finally leaving university, with their embossed degrees and their last package of ramen, you can give them a lift home in your new Ferrari.
As an entrepreneur who is an Agile and Lean practitioner I naturally gravitated to the chapter on "The Discipline of One Metric that Matters", but 8 pages (2% of the book) are just not sufficient to cover, in my opinion, such an important topic. A great segue into my issues with the weak bibliography - from being unable to trace additional relevant reading/reference materials to the stated metrics. For e.g., the Airbnb correlation to the addition of professional photographers to the increase in "nights booked" (pg. 7); or the stated metrics for "Circle of Friends (pg. 17) - Mike Greenfield might be a close and personal friend of Alistair's but I need some public reference for the published metrics to be credible.
Also, there are leaps without justification - On pg. 89 for Model Two, the authors state without any supporting evidence, "Because the incremental cost of adding another customer to a SaaS service is negligible - think of how little it costs Skype to add a new user...". On the surface this seems true. It leads one to make an extrapolation that every additional user is negligible in cost - but that is not true. For e.g., Netflix has to keep available capacity to keep up with the new subscribers and trial subscriptions. The additional available capacity is sunk cost. By adding another subscriber, Netflix is "potentially" recovering cost!
It is a good "first" step if you want to delve into the world of web entrepreneurship, or just want to increase your knowledge for an academic discussion...but I wouldn't run out to launch a business just on the learnings from this book.
1.) What data is important to my work?
2.) Why is it important?
3.) How do I measure it?
4.) What do I do with the results?
In addition to this straight-shooting advice, it's also chock-full of case studies and interviews, as well as thought-provoking graphics that will have us digging deep into the questions of life, happiness, and the meaning of worthwhile work. It provides readers with a set of exercises to help you ask the right questions of yourself and your team and get to the answers as quickly as possible. My favorite exercise is a one page business plan template that takes 20 minutes. It's turnkey resources like this that make this book priceless for everyone who desires to build anything of value. It's useful on a holistic basis, and also for individual projects and teams.
Throughout the book, you'll find key takeaways clearly highlighted and embedded within the relevant text. Lean Analytics packs a powerful punch of information. These key takeaways keep readers focused and on-track so that the information is highly relevant and immediately useful rather than overwhelming.
Another key feature that so few books have is a section that helps readers figure out the stage of their business or project. Then it goes further by giving us litmus tests to make sure we've assessed the situation fairly, are working on the right problems, and measuring our progress accurately. If your business builds a product or service, this book is priceless - it takes you through the discovery, development, build, and testing processes in an approachable, step-by-step manner.
Owning a copy of Lean Analytics is like having a management consultant / cheerleader / truth sayer right by your side every step of the way. Get it and use it well.
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