Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works by Ash Maurya takes the reader through the business start up and innovation process from a Lean perspective. He introduces a four-stage process designed to accelerate the work of developing viable products that customers will value.

Like most work, the start up and innovation process can easily be plagued by wasted efforts, whether due to too much planning, confirmation bias in product testing, and falling in love with developer driven features of little use to customers.

One of Maurya’s innovations introduced in this book should be of particular interest to building project owners and designers. His “Lean Canvas” is designed to capture a business model on a single A3 size sheet of paper. Like a problem solving A3, the approach forces a deeper level of thinking to achieve a concise distillation of the business problem and customer segments along with the financial metrics that support the solutions to be tested. With some modification this canvas may help project teams better define a building solution at the earliest stage of the planning – it’s worth testing.

The book makes an important point about the need for continued testing of ideas with customers. Customers play a role in defining value, yet they do so in the context of being part of a conversation with suppliers, investors, and the people performing the work that needs to be continually tested during the development phase. One interpretation of this point is that no one group, including customers, owns the value defining role exclusively.

Project start up work has much in common with business start up work. For building professionals involved in the early planning of projects, Running Lean is recommended reading.