Review of the book "Startup, Scaleup, Screwup"

The title of Jurgen Appelo's new book "Startup Scaleup Screwup" sums it up in a nutshell: This book is about Jurgen's insights into starting, scaling and failure of companies.

In this book, Jurgen summarizes his insights into the startup, scaling and failure of companies, gathered from his past and present businesses, as well as from interviews with start-up executives across Europe. There is a chapter on almost every area that comes to mind for the title chosen. The contents range from the expected presentations of Lean or Business Canvas, Personas or Pirate Metrics, to basic descriptions of Kanban and the retrospectives known from Scrum, to special topics such as crowd funding or content marketing. With this wide range of topics and just over 200 pages of content it is obvious that Jurgen does not dive into the depths of the subject matter. Jurgen deals most intensively with the topic of recruiting, to which he devotes three chapters. Nevertheless, I have always been able to find something new or useful, even with topics that are familiar to me. Jurgen achieves this either by merging familiar concepts into new models (for example Design Thinking and Lean Startup into the Innovation Vortex) or by succinctly summarizing familiar concepts. For the latter, the chapter on metrics is a good example, in which Jurgen describes the differences and relationships between North Star Metric, Result Metric and Support Metric.

It stands out that Jurgen cuts many concepts into small pieces and gives them a name. As a result, the many terms Jurgen gives out, as well as the terms that are already common in this field, develop a large technical vocabulary. On the one hand, this can be used for a precise description of facts, on the other hand, the reader should have a certain willingness to learn the many terms by heart. Familiarity with the vocabulary of the individual chapters is particularly useful due to Jurgen's frequent forwards or backwards references to terms.

Readers who want concrete recommendations for action will be pleased to know that Jurgen does not shy away from putting concepts into a clear order. This is particularly clear in his core chapter on the individual phases of a company and in the numerous chapters in which concepts are explained as funnels. For example, the hiring of employees is described by the Recruiting Funnel, which consists of ten explicit steps. Jurgen also recommends - in contrast to Ash Maurya with his Lean Canvas tool, for example - a specific sequence in the chapter on the business quilt in which to approach strategy topics such as Customer Segments Unique Value Proposition or Revenue Streams.

Overall, the book is written in an entertaining way, despite the density of information. The interspersed interviews with the responsible persons of European start-ups bring additional variety to the reading flow. I recommend this book to all those who are interested in a contemporary summary of the thematic breadth with regard to starting and scaling a business.

Jurgen Appelo: Startup, Scaleup, Screwup: 42 Tools to Accelerate Lean and Agile Business Growth, Wiley, 2019, 240 pages