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Scaling Lean: Mastering the Key Metrics for Startup Growth

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Is your “big idea” worth pursuing? What if you could test your business model earlier in the process—before you’ve expended valuable time and resources?
You’ve talked to customers. You’ve identified problems that need solving, and maybe even built a minimum viable product. But now there’s a second bridge to cross. How do you tell whether your idea represents a viable business? Do you really have to go through the whole cycle of development, failure, iteration, tweak, repeat?
Scaling Lean offers an invaluable blueprint for mod­eling startup success. You’ll learn the essential metrics that measure the output of a working business model, give you the pulse of your company, communicate its health to investors, and enable you to make precise interventions when things go wrong. You’ll also learn how
· ballpark the viability of a business model using a simple five-minute back-of-the-envelope estimation.
· stop using current revenue as a measure of progress (it forces you to fly blind and, often, to overpromise to your shareholders) and instead embrace the met­ric of traction—which helps you identify the leading indicators for future business model growth.
· set progressive goals that set you up for exponen­tial long-term success by implementing a staged 10X rollout strategy, like one employed by Face­book and Tesla.
· stop burying your breakthrough insights in failed experiments, but rather illuminate them using two-week LEAN sprints to quickly source, rank, and test ideas.
Ash Maurya, a serial entrepreneur and author of the startup cult classic Running Lean , pairs real-world examples of startups like Airbnb and Hubspot with techniques from the manufacturing world in this tacti­cal handbook for scaling with maximum efficiency and efficacy. This is vital reading for any startup founder graduating from the incubator stage.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published June 14, 2016

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About the author

Ash Maurya

9 books341 followers
"Life's too short to build something nobody wants."

I have been an entrepreneur for more than a decade, and throughout that time I have been in search of a better, faster way for building successful products.

Then I ran into early works on Customer Development and Lean Startup pioneered by Steve Blank and Eric Ries. I joined in on the conversation and have been rigorously applying and testing these principles since then. I started sharing my learning on this blog, which then turned into a book, and subsequently into a series of products aimed at helping entrepreneurs raise their odds of success.

That is my mission and reason for being.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 44 reviews
Profile Image for Oleksandr Golovatyi.
424 reviews34 followers
August 16, 2019
Best quotes and notes:

"Building a scalable and successful business starts with knowing what to measure and how."

"You are the first investor in your business idea. You invest with time, which is more valuable than money."

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"the top reason products fail is not a failure to build out the product, but rather a failure to build a repeatable and scalable business model."

"You don’t need lots of numbers, but a few key actionable metrics."

"While running experiments is a key activity in the Lean Canvas business model, you have to know how to design them for breakthrough learning."

"Scientists first build a model. Then they use experiments to validate (or invalidate) their model."

"“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” —MICHAEL PORTER"

"Specifically, it teaches you how to effectively define, measure, and communicate progress with your internal and external stakeholders using the six-step meta-framework shown below: 1) Goal 2) Observe and Orient 3) Learn, Leverage, or Lift 4) Experiment 5) Analyze 6) Next Actions"

"No methodology can guarantee success. But a good methodology can provide a feedback loop for continual improvement and learning."

"There is no business in your business model without revenue."

"Traction is the rate at which a business model captures monetizable value from its users."

"Making happy or badass customers gets you paid. Doing this repeatedly and sustainably is the universal goal of every business."

"Customer throughput is the rate at which nonpaying users are processed into paying customers."

"Lifetime Value (LTV) is the projected revenue that a customer will generate during his lifetime."

"Before you rush to declare customer segment A the more valuable group, don’t forget to factor in the cost of raw materials or the Cost of Customer Acquisition (COCA)."

"Your business model, NOT your solution, is the product."

"Your minimum success criteria are the smallest outcomes that would deem the project a success for you X years from now."

"If you could double your pricing, and not lose more than half your customers, you would still come out ahead."

"Projected customer lifetime = 1 / (monthly churn rate)"

"While ideas are cheap, acting on them is quite expensive."

"An offer is made up of three things: your unique value proposition, a demo, and pricing."

"An MVP is the smallest solution that creates and captures monetizable value from users."

"You don’t need lots of users, just a few good customers."

"You don’t need lots of users to validate a business model."

"Twitter found that its aha moment is when people start following at least ten people."

"Cohorts help you measure relative progress by pitting one batch of users against another."

"At any given point in time, the throughput of a system is limited by only a single constraint. —ELIYAHU GOLDRATT, THEORY OF CONSTRAINTS"

"Money only lets you do more of whatever you are already doing."

"Every process works well until you add people."

"Test your ideas through experiments. These ideas or plans are then tested through one or more small, fast, additive experiments using the Build/Measure/Learn cycle."

"Constraints Create Space for Innovation"

"Correctly identifying the “real” constraint will often drive the right next action you take."

"Five Whys is a question-asking method used to explore the cause/effect relationships underlying a particular problem or undesirable effect."

"Macro metrics help locate where the hot spots lie, while micro metrics help troubleshoot why."

"An effective approach is comparing how the behaviors of your users who stay differ from those of users who leave. Yes, this is a kind of cohort analysis. Facebook, for instance, found that users who added at least seven friends in the first ten days were much more likely to stay engaged. It"

"Learning experiments are for hypothesis generation, while throughput experiments are for hypothesis validation."

"How can I without ?"

"“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” —SUN TZU"

"Strategy is a proposal for how to increase customer throughput from point A to point B within a time frame X."

"A single experiment can never completely validate a strategy, but it can completely invalidate it."

"People so hate to be proven wrong that in crucial decision-making moments, they’ll take the safe or neutral route."

"Any estimation is better than no estimation."

"“The right process will produce the right results.” —JEFFREY LIKER, THE TOYOTA WAY"

"There is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments with unexpected outcomes. —BUCKMINSTER FULLER"

"A live customer conversation is often the best way to uncover what you don’t know that you don’t know."

"“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination.” —ALBERT EINSTEIN"

"“The efficiency of a team is approximately the inverse of the square of the number of members in the team.” —MARC HEDLUND"

"“The two pizza team rule: Any team should be small enough that it could be fed with two pizzas.” —JEFF BEZOS, AMAZON"

"because people can read faster than you can talk."
Profile Image for Jose Papo.
260 reviews133 followers
June 21, 2016
A must read book for anyone building solutions! The author uses Systems Thinking, Lean, Lean Startup, TPS and Theory of Constraints to create a great framework and process to understand how your product/business model is growing and tractioning in the market. I specially liked the first part of the book, where Ash explores the critical metrics you need to understand and that you, investors and stakeholders should focus.
Profile Image for John Elbing.
30 reviews14 followers
August 9, 2016
Great compliment to Running lean. It gives good practical advice to help keep things real and keep you accountable. The quick "order of magnitude" calculations to help set goals are invaluable.
Profile Image for Kait  The Oenomel .
12 reviews3 followers
June 22, 2016
Scaling Lean has great information! I'm currently about half way through. I'm really loving the chapter on Benchmarking Your Customer Factory; I am now responsible for an entire program area in a non-profit that hasn't been operated in over a year and a lot of these things are applicable as I'm setting a foundation. Definitely recommend. My copies getting a bit over tabbed!
Profile Image for Christophe Addinquy.
389 reviews17 followers
May 11, 2018
That is an amazing book. Ash Maurya already produced a famous first one with "Running Lean", but this one is even better ! While his first text is about seeking a problem worth to be solved, this second one is about making it scale. The author is giving us the concept of "customer Factory", a sweet move from the pirate metrics. A book worth reading
Ma note de lecture en Français ici
Profile Image for Petr Augustin.
30 reviews3 followers
November 23, 2017
First half is great. I love Ash's take on traction, constraints, cohorts and factory blueprint.
The second one was basically just a design sprint and UX validation. I like that the book contained practical tests you can do to check if you understand the chapter correctly.
Profile Image for Mahdi Nasseri.
73 reviews24 followers
March 17, 2018
این کتاب رو با دقت زیادی خوندم. اش موریا دراین کتاب سعی کرده مدلی جدید برای ارزیابی عملکرد رشد استارتاپ ها ارائه بده. گرچه احساس می‌کنم این مدل باید کمی پخته‌تر بشه ولی مفاهیم مرتبط با اون رو که تو کتاب توضیح داده شده خیلی مفید دیدم.
Profile Image for William Meller.
69 reviews1 follower
March 9, 2023
"Scaling Lean" is a book written by Ash Maurya that provides an overview of how to scale Lean Startup methodologies to larger organizations and complex products.

You'll learn the essential metrics that measure the output of a working business model, give you the pulse of your company, communicate its health to investors, and enable you to make precise interventions when things go wrong.

Is your 'big idea' worth pursuing?

What if you could test your business model earlier in the process - before you've expended valuable time and resources?

You've talked to customers. You've identified problems that need solving, and maybe even built a minimum viable product. But now there's a second bridge to cross.

How do you tell whether your idea represents a viable business? Do you really have to go through the whole cycle of development, failure, iteration, tweak, and repeat?

Building a scalable and successful business starts with knowing what to measure and how. The first and most important stakeholder in the business is you, and your scarcest resource is time.

Every minute spent on a business that is doomed to fail is a waste, and so it’s critical for you to be able to identify—quickly, early, and accurately—whether a business idea is worth pursuing.

The book covers the principles and practices of Lean Startup, and how to apply them to scale up to larger organizations and complex products.

The author covers the key practices and strategies needed to successfully scale Lean Startup, including customer development, validated learning, and the Lean Canvas.

The book provides real-world examples and case studies from the author's experience implementing Lean Startup in various organizations.

The book covers the importance of leadership, communication, and collaboration in the scaling process.

The book includes practical tips, tools, and checklists to help teams implement Lean Startup effectively at scale.

In conclusion, "Scaling Lean" is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding and implementing Lean Startup methodologies at scale.

The author, Ash Maurya, provides a comprehensive overview of the key practices and strategies needed to successfully scale Lean Startup, and offers real-world examples and case studies to illustrate the concepts.

The book also covers the importance of leadership, communication, and collaboration in the scaling process, and includes practical tips, tools, and checklists to help teams implement Lean Startup effectively at scale.

It's a valuable resource for anyone looking to take their Lean Startup journey to the next level and scale it to larger organizations and complex products.

This is part of my collection of book notes at https://www.williammeller.com/p/all-b...
Profile Image for Andrea Hill.
110 reviews7 followers
January 1, 2017
I really wanted to love this book: Running Lean is my favorite book for introducing someone to Lean startup as it provided scripts an aspiring practitioner could put to use right away. Ash didn't completely abandon this approach, but unfortunately he also added in too much extraneous commentary for my liking. That being said, parts of this book greatly advanced my thoughts on how to apply lean within my org.

The Good:
Ballparking estimates: we've all heard the PM interviews questions about "how many ping-pong balls could fit in a VW?' (I never understood the point before) Ash introduces a way to come up with reasonable estimates that can be used to check the potential for a plan.

Explicitly calling out constraints. Its common go try to solve problems by throwing more resources at them. ("If we just build this one more feature"). A business' success is tied to leverage and achieving more with less.

Sprint meeting agendas! While I've previously run experiment planning and review meetings with stakeholders, I was excited to see this structure and plan to incorporate it in future meetings.

The Not-Good
The metaphor of the Customer Factory and measuring throughout was meh, and the middle chapters of the book just rehashed Pirate Metrics. If you're reading this book, I assume you already have the fundamentals down. If not, go read Running Lean.
I found myself skimming through about a third of this book, waiting to find nuggets of practical application, which is where Ash shines.

In all, I'm glad I finally forced myself to finish this book ( I started it 8 months ago!) there's a lot of good material in here, it's just sprinkled in with a lot of extraneous background I didn't need.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Aakash Aggarwal.
40 reviews10 followers
March 20, 2017
This is one of those super easy books to read that communicates only so much to give what it wants to give and nothing more can be demanded of it.

There are basically three models that are explained in this book - lean canvas, traction and customer factory. Terms such as TOC, customer throughput, throughput, monetizable value etc. are something that are inherently lean manufacturing concepts but they are mapped intelligently to scaling startups. Not much has been written about how to achieve traction. Would have been better if the book would have been broken down into 3 mini-books with each model becoming a book itself. A deep-dive is essential when models are built.

There's so much information that can be extracted out of these models. No organizational function was discussed in the book. Sales, marketing, product management, finance, customer service? Nothing. Seemed like a regurgitation of random facts to make them sound intellectual for the sake of writing a book on startups. This was neither an out and out book on startups nor on entrepreneurship. I can't say that I didn't gain anything from reading the book, but my life would be okay if I had not read this book.

Random Silicon Valley rant. The reality of how startups are run in the real world is not through frameworks or plans but through instincts. This book is choke-full of PLANS that will never work for a growth startup. Mature startups require high-level management skills that require traditional frameworks. I can't understand the target audience of this book.

Seriously. After this, I think I should write a book.
6 reviews
April 11, 2019
Waste of time honestly.
A lot of empty phrases and no brainers as well as just plain wrong information. Someone who has been active in the business world for years should know that Facebook does not spend billions every month on hosting - with their 2015 revenue just short of six billion they'd be bankrupt within less than a year.

If you can't even get your facts straight (or at least not so obviously wrong) then don't expect me to believe your other statements.

Two stars since there are one or two concepts which actually might make sense for a startup to apply. Don't expect anything terribly life-changing or mind-blowing though.
December 17, 2020
The main point of the book is that there is no other metric that is a better measure of the success of a business model other than traction. Higher traction means that you were able to capture monetizable value from your customers. Using the funnel chart of AARRR (Acquisition - Activation - Retention - Revenue - Referral) is a good way to measure your experiments and to find out your business model's constraints and how they can be overcome and/or leveraged to improve your startup. Overall, this is a good book with lots of the 'technical' stuff and some mathematical formulae that people who love some form of 'exactness' would definitely enjoy reading.
Profile Image for Outdoors Nerd.
351 reviews6 followers
September 16, 2018
A must read if your are using Lean Startup methodology in your new enterprise. If you aren't you should be, so read this book.

I found myself rereading but never finishing it. It took a concerted effort to study it and capture the process and actionable steps. Plenty of demonstrable wisdom in here, it just takes a lot of effort to extract it.

The tool and methodology assume you have successfully tested an MVP and have some indication of problem solution fit.
However don't wait for that stage to read this as it has plenty of applicable tools for your very early stages too.
Profile Image for Fer Tostado.
195 reviews1 follower
April 29, 2020
Very nice blueprint with a number of several scientific methods for with strategic approaches that should lead to a healthy and intelligent scaling of your company.

While this book can be read whenever you want, even though you have a company or not, I would recommend this reading before you start getting traction and re reading it once again once you have this traction and apply the methodologies you liked the most.
12 reviews1 follower
June 20, 2021
Ash Maurya presents processes which startups can implement to grow in a way which is easy to understand and adopt. It’s a great book and deserves 5*, definitely worth reading Running Lean first though. This book is a lot more technical than running lean with more complex processes but it’s easy to pick and choose certain parts of the book which are relevant and appreciate the parts which aren’t relevant but are clearly relevant for other businesses.
Profile Image for Luis Javier Gil .
10 reviews2 followers
January 12, 2021
This is really great book, it’s very basic stuff but the concept and the strategies given in the book is the type of strategies that can make you rich or valuable for your company!
I recommend you to search the book on YouTube and there’s a very good summary that can make u want to know more about in the book!
Profile Image for Jan Bílek.
3 reviews
July 22, 2022
The whole book is composed mainly of recycled content from "Running Lean" by the same author. The things are looked at from a slightly different perspective, and some good examples exist. However, except for the chapter on LEAN Sprint, it doesn't add much value if you've already read "Running Lean". If I could read only one book of the two, I'd choose this one as it seems more practical.
Profile Image for Tim Nowotny.
1,061 reviews18 followers
December 14, 2016
A very practical book that wold hold even more power would I be working on a business idea right now.
This way I have only the theory to evaluate.

All in all I think it really is a strapped down, pragmatic approach to building a business and the didactic is solid.
Profile Image for Matt Lavin.
42 reviews
December 31, 2019
I loved the concepts of traction model and customer factory. I also found the very clear guidance on how to set scaling milestones by working backward from minimum success criteria very interesting. When applying it to my own work, it's lead to interesting observations.
Profile Image for Nopadol Rompho.
Author 4 books336 followers
September 17, 2017
This is another good book if you want to do startup. I personally like the book because they talked about metrics that are useful for startups to track.
Profile Image for Glenn Schmelzle.
187 reviews14 followers
November 18, 2017
I like how many steps Ash breaks down into their smallest components. In the case of a meeting or a sales call, he even gives minute-by-minute list of talking points.
12 reviews
January 14, 2019
Good bood book for startup

Good clarity on startp business, entrepreneur can use this book for planning their businesses and strategy for growth & sustainablity
2 reviews1 follower
March 21, 2019
I've finished reading this book and impactful to my own startup. I really recommend for all startup founder investing their time to read this
Profile Image for Michal.
27 reviews
August 1, 2021
Useful template on how to get lean processes implemented

Will definitely apply something from that
Profile Image for Jason Nash.
21 reviews
October 8, 2018
Must read for all product managers

Not only does this combine constraints theory with agile and lean but makes you understand that for new products traction not revenue is your early measure of success. Gives you a real measure that matters. Very practical and hands on examples a how to for lean accounting thinking from startup way.
46 reviews5 followers
November 17, 2020
Este libro es un handbook sencillo, muy ilustrativo y muy práctico de cómo establecer milestones para generar crecimiento en un startup. Combina los conceptos de Lean Startup con Systems Thinking y el método científico alrededor de la macro-métrica de la tracción. En cada capítulo ofrece ejercicios prácticos (no muy sencillos de hacer, sinceramente) para ir creando tanto un modelo de tracción como una fábrica de clientes (una versión más human-centered de un sales funnel). Lo chévere es que todos los procesos del libro están representados por el acrónimo GOLEAN.

La primera parte "Defining Progress" guía el paso por paso de establecer las metas de tracción tanto a una escala macro como a una escala más pequeña. Empieza analogando el concepto de rendimiento (del inglés 'throughput'; systems thinking) con la macrométrica de tracción Culmina con un ejercicio de utilizar una estrategia 10x para construir un modelo de tracción. Es precisamente donde dice que los startups no crecen linealmente, sino exponencialmente; y recomienda aplicar la estrategia 10x a las metas de los diferentes fits que hay en la validación de un Business Model.

La segunda parte "Prioritizing waste" explica cómo crear la fábrica de clientes a través de conceptos de systems thinking y enseña cómo hallar constreñimientos en la fábrica para apalancarlos y levantarlos.

La tercera parte "Achieving Breakthrough" se enfoca principalmente en el método científico: cómo diseñar experimentos, llevarlos a cabo, medir sus resultados a través del proceso Lean. Fue aquí que aprendí que lo que más se asemeja al método científico en emprendimiento es una vuelta entera al Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop. Introduce el concepto de LEAN sprint que es un experimento limitado de tiempo para probar hipótesis acerca del crecimiento del startup.
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