Not so long ago, I bumped into an old acquaintance. Outside of the usual pleasantries of what was going on in our lives, I had plunked down my copy of Lean Analytics that I was going to peruse through after I had done my weekly review in my journal.
I had asked him about whether or not he had read or heard about Eric Ries’ book “The Lean Startup”, and not surprisingly this person said “yes”. This acquaintance had made an off-hand remark about whether or not the Alistair Croll or Ben Yoskovitz were published or not and went straight to a journal database to see if they had in fact done any previous work. Of course they didn’t, because they were former entrepreneurs and only now after exiting their businesses to work on the book.
I found this both surprising and alarming as it was almost as if this person was discrediting all the work they had done. Essentially, this person had relegated the book to an “airport book” as it was fluff. It was an interpretation of someone else’s work, without rigorous study and that’s all there was to it. I’ve watched and admired Alistair’s and Ben’s careers and work from afar, going through their insightful blog posts – learning about their interpretation of Lean Methodology and had a few quick exchanges here and there in Toronto and Montreal.
In any case, I bit my tongue hard after hearing what this acquaintance had to say as I respected him and wanted to hear him out. Thinking about my interaction with this person a bit more, there’s something about armchair quarterbacking that the notion that something needs to be rigorously studied and then published and peer reviewed before it becomes a worthwhile and legitimate take on entrepreneurship. You learn the best by doing – there’s an innate bias towards action and learning, especially when you’re in the thick of it – not when you quickly Google something or look something up on an academic database.
I can appreciate academia, but I don’t respect those who haven’t gone through the struggles – the highest highs and the lowest lows in terms of starting and breathing life into a business – and then discredit one’s life work in well fell swoop in the matter of seconds.