Dec 272012

I just read and added to a conversation initiated by Paul Fox regarding his description of how he is going about teaching Lean Startup.

Paul starts a conversation about his post in the Lean Startup Circle on LinkedIn and in one of his responses to supportive comments he writes:  “One thing I think that’s important is distinguishing between principles, processes, tools, and tactics.”

For me, this is an important way to frame the Customer Development, Lean Startup, and Market Validation concepts to help others grok them.

Paul characterizes Eric Reis’s The Lean Startup as primarily about First Principles and Process with some discussion on tactics and tools.  He suggests that Ash Maurya digs deeper into tactics. To continue on this theme, I would add that Steve Blank and Bob Dorf are clearly Principle and Process focused in their latest The Startup Owner’s Manual and Steve’s blog, of course.  Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur is clearly an important tool and usage is a useful tactic.

For me, Paul has put his finger on what I have felt is missing in emphasis from Customer Development and Lean Start-Up books — the tactics….especially as they relate to actually getting “out of the building”.

For me, the principles, process, tactics, and tools are all just motivators to help lower the barrier to getting out into the field.  That is, principles help explain why it works, process how it works, tactics what to do, and tools help you get the most out of it.

I’ll feel successful if I can make this blog into a tool for explaining the tactics and where the tactics fit into the process while showing how they follow and flow from the principles.

 Posted by at 10:04
Dec 162012

I just read a post by Andrej Kostresevic about how to avoid false positive information when speaking with prospective customers.  It’s an important topic and it’s good to highlight the problems caused by a prospect’s natural inclination to express answers in a positive way relative to your questions.

Andrej has a five-step process for avoiding false positive responses from prospective customers.  However, Andrej’s overall attitude appears to be that he doesn’t trust his prospective customers’ answers.  I must take issue with the usefulness of this attitude.  I think it’s wrong and actually causes him to miss important learning opportunities.

Having been on probably over 1,000 meetings presenting new-to-the-world solutions to prospective customers, here’s how I would refine his BS Meter and minimize the false positives feedback:

First, it’s important to understand a few important-to-me guiding principles which I’ve found valuable.  Then I will comment on each of Andrej’s specific steps in his BS Meter.  Continue reading »

 Posted by at 01:02
Dec 132012

This post is about Intuit’s apparently successful product development in India.  I’ve heard this story twice recently. The first time was listening to the Livestream of the Lean Startup Conference and the second time was reading a Lean Startup Group post in LinkedIn by Rammohan Reddy.  Here’s a link to the Lean Startup Conference video of all the speakers. Rammohan’s original post is here. This account of Customer Discovery and Customer Development provides some good detail on the starting point and the pivots in a fairly concise write-up. Two elements stood out to me and I’d like to reinforce them and one element that I think they “overlooked” and is important to highlight. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 17:26
Dec 062012

The focus on getting in front of prospective customers is because you cannot get the right, paying customers without first talking to prospective customers.  It’s akin to a fundamental law of physics.

The right, paying customers are vital because the best single feedback source — the absolute, spot-on, most useful, very best feedback — and very best guide to your business opportunity roadmap comes from rich discussions with product users who are using your solution and have paid for it.  Repeat for emphasis…

The very best, single source of feedback on your business opportunity roadmap comes from rich discussions with product users who have written a check and use your product.

All other feedback is conjecture and guessing…and as I like to ask:  Why settle for guess?
Continue reading »

 Posted by at 11:11