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Meet Eric Ries — reluctant start-up guru who sparked a movement

来源:FT中文网    2017-11-08 07:02

        Eric Ries’s first book is often nicknamed the Silicon Valley bible. But the zeal with which enthusiasts promote The Lean Startup        埃里克•里斯(Eric Ries)的第一部著作往往被戏称为“硅谷圣经”。但狂热粉丝追捧《精益创业》(The Lean Startup)及其快速创新原则的热情,可能会让这项运动的创始人尴尬。
        and its principles of rapid innovation can embarrass the movement’s founder.        在某次活动上,这种热情达到如此夸张的程度,以至于主持人使用一种“假传教士”的语气。
        At one event, the fervour reached such a pitch that the presenter adopted a “fake preacher” accent.        “他开始让人们上台并向大家讲述他们的创业故事,他的语气就像是‘哈利路亚!’开始带有相当明显的宗教性,”里斯表示,“我不得不说‘听着,我受宠若惊,但这不是宗教。你不会被开除教籍。而且它的目的不是宣传自己。目的是帮助人们实现特定目标——所以让我们记住,这必须有所改变和发展。’”
        “He started having people come up to the stage and tell us their start-up stories and he was, like, ‘Hallelujah!’ It was getting quite explicitly religious,” says Mr Ries. “I had to say ‘Listen, I’m flattered, but this is not a religion. You can’t be excommunicated from it. And the purpose of it is not to propagate itself. The purpose is to help people accomplish these specific goals — so let’s remember that this is going to have to change and evolve.’”        它确实演变发展了。《创业之路》(The Startup Way)——2011年里斯那本畅销书之后新近出版的续篇——描述了通用电气(GE)等老牌集团是如何积极采用并消化吸收了这套最初面向初创企业的办法。
        Evolve it has. The Startup Way, the newly published sequel to Mr Ries’s 2011 bestseller, describes how established groups such as General Electric have enthusiastically adopted and adapted the methods first intended for newly launched enterprises.        两本书的中心思想是,成功的产品并不是出自旷日持久的项目,而是出自快速的实验。让顾客试用早期阶段的产品,之后创新者可以依据试用结果来改变、扩大生产规模或放弃相关产品。“打造——衡量——学习”是该运动的三词箴言。
        The central idea of both books is that successful products emerge not through long-winded projects, but through rapid experimentation. By trying out early-stage products on customers, innovators can then change, scale up or ditch them, depending on the outcome. “Build-measure-learn” is the movement’s three-word mantra.        精益创业中的一些术语已经开始运用于更多语境。如果老板让你拿出“最小可行产品”(minimum viable product),或者告诉你公司“正在转向”(pivoting to)某个新创意,里斯负有一部分责任。
        Some lean start-up terminology has entered the wider lexicon. If you have been asked to come up with a “minimum viable product” or told your company is “pivoting” to a new idea, Mr Ries is partly responsible.        他不喜欢“导师”标签,并且从不隐瞒别人对他的帮助。“最小可行产品”这个术语至少从2000年就出现了;企业家和教师史蒂夫•布兰克(Steve Blank)曾投资里斯早期的创业项目,并且教会他把工程领域的严谨带到营销工作。精益制造这个概念发源于汽车制造商丰田(Toyota)。
        He eschews the tag “guru” and does not conceal his debt to others. The term minimum viable product has been around since at least 2000; Steve Blank, the entrepreneur and teacher, invested in an early Ries venture and taught him to bring engineering rigour to marketing. And lean production was first developed by Toyota, the carmaker.        不过,39岁的里斯明显具有提炼、重新包装并推广概念的天赋。他最初把初创企业定义为“一种人类机构,在极为不确定的条件下试图创造新产品或服务”。自从6年前《精益创业》面世以来,同样的定义如今明显也适用于老牌企业的某些部分。当年运用“打造——衡量——学习”模式壮大起来的初创企业,如今也在应对大企业面临的问题,比如日益滋生的官僚主义。
        Yet Mr Ries, 39, plainly has a gift for simplifying, repackaging and promoting concepts. He first defined a start-up as “a human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty”. Since The Lean Startup appeared six years ago it has become clear the same definition applies to parts of established companies. Start-ups that grew using the build-measure-learn approach are also now grappling with big-company problems, such as encroaching bureaucracy.        Intuit是较早采用这套理论的企业。“现在,Intuit几乎所有部门至少都在尝试遵循这些原则,”该软件集团的创新领导者贝内特•布兰克(Bennett Blank)表示,他把这些想法推介给各个岗位,从程序员到人力资源高管。
        Intuit was one early adopter. “At this point, there’s almost no part of Intuit that isn’t at least trying to follow these principles,” says Bennett Blank, the software group’s innovation leader, who has helped spread the ideas from programmers to personnel executives.        通用电气前CEO杰弗里•伊梅尔特(Jeffrey Immelt)承认,里斯是这家工业集团旨在加快创新的内部项目FastWorks背后的主要影响之一。
        Jeffrey Immelt, GE’s former chief executive, credited Mr Ries as one of the principal influences behind FastWorks, the industrial group’s internal programme for speeding up innovation.        2012年,他请里斯帮助通用电气的一个团队加快一款柴油和天然气发动机的研发。里斯表示,这位通用电气CEO故意选择了与软件应用(貌似最适合采用他的方法的产品)相距甚远的产品。《创业之路》开篇写的正是里斯与心存疑虑的通用电气工程师们首次开会的场景,当时他请他们解释柴油发动机的工作原理。
        In 2012, he asked Mr Ries to help a GE team accelerate development of a diesel and natural gas engine. Mr Ries says the GE chief executive deliberately chose a product that was far from the software applications that seem most amenable to his techniques. A description of Mr Ries’s first meeting with sceptical GE engineers, where he asked them to explain how a diesel engine worked, opens The Startup Way        里斯认为,“大企业”人员在本质上与创业家没有区别。他向初创公司的创始人们提出一个简单的问题:“如果你们那么痛恨大企业,那你们为什么还要再创办一家新的大企业呢?”他说,同样,大公司可以被看成一系列较小单位,可以像初创公司一样进行实验。
        .        无论企业规模大小,其领导者都应该把“创业管理方法”纳入自己经营企业的方法。“我并不是要吹牛说,这会像变魔术一样,把每一个项目都变成谷歌(Google),”他表示。但是“即使当我们认为自己不受颠覆影响,我们也应该始终进行实验,作为一种成本不高的保险。”
        Mr Ries believes “big company” people are not fundamentally different from entrepreneurs. He asks start-up founders a simple question: “If you hate big companies so much, why are you trying to create a new one?” Similarly, he says big companies can be seen as a series of smaller units that can experiment as start-ups do.        一个基层的精益创业俱乐部网络已经应运而生,但里斯没有直接参与。他的公司主办一个为期一周的会议——今年的会议于10月30日开幕——介绍基本的知识产权许可授予程序,以及提供培训以“支持使命”。“主要不是为了赚钱,”他称。
        Leaders of companies of all sizes should add “entrepreneurial management” to the techniques they use to run their business. “I’m not trying to make a grandiose claim that this will magically transform every project into Google,” he says. But “even when we think we’re immune from disruption we should always have experiments running, as an inexpensive form of insurance”.        这种开源的方式也存在一些缺陷。里斯在咖啡厅不经意间听到过创业家曲解他的理论,有时感觉就像伍迪•艾伦(Woody Allen)的影片《安妮•霍尔》中马歇尔•麦克卢汉(Marshall McLuhan)出现的场景,这位哲学家现身,告诉一名自命不凡的学者:“你对我的学说一无所知。”
        A grassroots network of lean start-up clubs has sprung up without Mr Ries’s direct involvement. His company organises one weeklong conference — this year’s started on October 30 — oversees basic licensing of the intellectual property, and offers training to “support the mission”. “Mostly,” he says, “it’s not designed to make a profit.”        风险资本家也曾向里斯抱怨“精益式洗白”:“创业者会到他们的办公室竭力推销自己的创业项目,其实是老一套的胡扯,只是点缀了一些精益创业的术语。”
        There are drawbacks to the open-source approach. Overhearing his ideas being mangled by entrepreneurs in cafés, Mr Ries sometimes feels like Marshall McLuhan in the scene in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, where the philosopher emerges to tell a pretentious academic: “You know nothing of my work.”        通用电气等大规模的实验揭穿了一个经常出现的错误概念,即精益适合“所需投入不多的项目,不能用于真正雄心勃勃的项目”。
        Venture capitalists also used to complain to Mr Ries about “lean-washing”: “Entrepreneurs [would] come into their office to pitch them their start-up and it would be the same old crappy pitch but with lean jargon sprinkled in.”        里斯的另一个项目“长期证交所”(Long-Term Stock Exchange)——在获得监管许可前,他对此不能透露太多——是为了缓解上市公司的短期压力。他表示,创业原则可以用来梳理最复杂的政治难题——实施英国退欧:“项目越大和越可怕,你就越能获益于这些方法,因为走错路的代价太高了。”
        Large-scale experiments such as GE’s debunk the recurring misconception that lean is for “things that are inexpensive to do [and] couldn’t be used for projects that are really ambitious”.        但各种管理潮流来了又去,里斯承认,随着较大规模的企业开始采用精益创业的观念,他可能会因为意想不到的后果而受到指责。
        Another Ries project, the Long-Term Stock Exchange — about which he cannot say much before regulatory approval — is an effort to relieve short-term pressure on public companies. He says start-up principles could disentangle that most complex political knot, the implementation of Brexit: “The bigger and scarier the project, the more you benefit from these techniques because the costs of getting it wrong are so high.”        “我并没有说FastWorks是万灵药……可以永远解决通用电气的所有问题,”里斯表示,“它充其量就是一套多方位策略的一部分。”伊梅尔特已经离开了通用电气。他的继任者约翰•弗兰纳里(John Flannery)正受到活动人士的压力。通用电气表示,FastWorks仍然是其企业文化的重要组成部分,但弗兰纳里已放话称,在他改组该集团之际,没有碰不得的“圣牛”。
        But management trends come and go and Mr Ries acknowledges that, as bigger enterprises take on lean start-up ideas, he may be blamed for any unintended consequences.        里斯意识到了这点,“当内部开始出现问题时,有时你要指责外人”。他表示,所以“我觉得,重要的是,在问题出现前不要把太多好事归功于自己,因为归根结底,我们想要实现的只是尽量提升每个团队的成功几率”。
        “I’m not claiming FastWorks is the cure-all . . . that’s going to solve all of GE problems for ever,” says Mr Ries. “At best, it’s a component of a multi-faceted strategy.” Mr Immelt has moved on. His successor, John Flannery, is under pressure from activists. GE says FastWorks remains an important part of its culture, but Mr Flannery has said there are no “sacred cows” as he resets the group.        对此应该说:“哈利路亚”。
        Mr Ries recognises that, “when things go wrong internally, sometimes you need to blame the outside person”. That is why, he says, “I feel like it’s important before anything bad happens not to take too much credit for the good things that happen, because ultimately all we’re trying to do is maximise the probability of success for individual teams”.        译者/马柯斯

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