Working in a startup naturally gets you in contact with topics related to the startup world. Last week I attended a meetup hosted by the Vienna Agile Community. The speaker was Jurgen Appelo, a Dutch writer and entrepreneur (amidst a lot of other titles you can give to him) talking about his latest book.

While being a rockstar in the agile community, I don‘t think that a lot of people know Jurgen outside of that realm. His first book Management 3.0 can already be considered a classic in agile literature. But what makes him different from all the other authors – in my eyes – is the fact that he tries to dive into a topic by reading and discussing everything there is until he is at a stage where he can synthesize something new and test that idea before pushing it out. 

From the founder’s perspective

His latest book, written from the perspective of a founder, has all the treats I expected: Personal anecdotes, conversations with other founders or crucial functions in startups and many tools from Lean, Agile and other business methodologies.

The book kicks off with a picture of the business lifecycle. This is something you cannot ignore because it also determines what kind of actions, tools, and goals should be on your priority list. 

Fusing everything into a vortex

The core idea he formulates is around the Shiftup Innovation Vortex, which fuses the Design Thinking and the Lean Startup idea. Something which is so logical if you think twice. The overlap is in the middle of the process, but the beginning and end have their limitations or room for improvement. 

Innovation Vortex

Innovation Vortex (with kind permission of Jurgen Appelo)

The third idea propagated throughout the book is the creation of an innovation funnel. It is just as complex and dependent on your lifecycle stage what to do for innovation as it is for marketing and sales.

A book which is a toolbox

It is hard to write about this book because at the end of the day it is a toolbox, but whether you work in a startup or are just interested in the topic, you are very likely to take away some good ideas and practices for your work. Maybe there is not a lot of new stuff for you, but you get the advantage of having the tools in their context and connected with the process.

One of the things I loved in this book was that just as there is the right time for tools in your product’s or business’s lifecycle there is a wrong time. Maybe you do not need OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) and a North Star Metric would be the better choice? 

I am only sure of one thing: It was the right time for me to read this book and it seems that this is one of the books where there is no wrong time to read it.


Reading Time: about 3 – 5 hours (depending on your reading speed)

Visit for more info on the book

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