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Jolt Awards: The Best Books

, September 18, 2012 Six notable books that every serious programmer should read.
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Jolt Finalist: Running Lean, Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works, Second Edition

by Ash Maurya

This is not so much a technology book as a thoughtful tutorial on building a successful technology business. The core theme is that startups face a unique challenge: They must learn before they build, or they will build what no one wants. My first reading of this book forced me into a pivot that has taken me in an entirely new direction for my own startup. The centerpiece of Running Lean is Maurya's Lean Canvas: a concise model of your startup on a single page to capture the Problem, Solution, Customer Segments, Unique Value Proposition, and other central elements. The book is a step-by-step elaboration of how a startup can iteratively learn ("Get out of the building!"), test its hypotheses with experiments, and provide only the Minimum Viable Product for continued learning and testing. Maurya's style is very readable, although his clarity slips briefly in his discussion of risk and prioritization — his early discussion of business models suddenly proliferated into a list of multiple customer segments of the Lean Canvas. But this one glitch is a minor blemish in a book that is invaluable for anyone thinking of starting a company of any kind.

— Gary Evans

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