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Is Customer Development Pseudoscience?

The “Science” of Lean Startup Lean startup practitioners embrace the scientific method, seeking the "truth" about what business model and strategy will lead to product success. We do so by: Formulating hypotheses Crafting and running experiments to test them Learning from the experiments Iteratively feeding our learnings back into revised hypotheses Sounds pretty scientific, at least in spirit, doesn't it? Yet this process actually neglects a key ingredient in the scientists' mode of operation. To identify what’s missing, let’s examine “customer development”. Customer Development Steve Blank is one of the pioneers of the lean startup movement. He introduced into the lean startup lexicon the term “customer development”. Customer development consists of sessions and interactions with customers to test hypotheses. For example, a product manager might interview a prospect, asking if she agrees with the product manager’s hypotheses abo

Why Spreadsheets Suck for Prioritizing

The Goal As a company executive, you want confidence that your product team (which includes all the people, from all departments, responsible for product success) has a sound basis for deciding which items are on the product roadmap. You also want confidence the team is prioritizing the items in a smart way. What Should We Prioritize? The items the team prioritizes could be features, user stories, epics, market problems, themes, or experiments. Melissa Perri  makes an excellent case for a " problem roadmap ", and, in general, I recommend focusing on the latter types of items. However, the topic of what types of items you should prioritize - and in what situations - is interesting and important but beyond the scope of this blog entry. A Sad but Familiar Story If there is significant controversy about priorities, then almost inevitably, a product manager or other member of the team decides to put together The Spreadsheet. I've done it. Some of the mos

What Is Design Thinking?

The Context Over the years, various product management and development methods have come into vogue, most notably agile and lean startup methods. Agile methods addressed requirements , architecture, and development risks using frequent iterations. Lean startup methods take it a step further, iterating on the entire product strategy, including the unique value proposition , the target market, revenue and cost structure, and marketing and sales channels. Recently, you may have heard more and more chatter about "design thinking". I certainly have. What is it, and how does it differ from agile and lean startup methods? How can companies leverage it to innovate and develop better products? The Definition If you do some web searches, you'll notice a lot of vague references to design thinking and a diversity of views about what it is. After exploring some definitions, I'll borrow from various descriptions and accounts of design thinking to form what I believe is a