Is there something wrong with the lean cycle ?
Some other talks were about lessons learned by entrepreneurs that succeeded. During these talks, the recurring mistake was the classic “We started by building the product” leading to the obvious “We built the wrong product” or “We were not solving a real problem”. Here’s a talk saying exactly that and then shows how they finally succeed by Working With Customers Before You Write Any Code by @dainalinton.
So why ?
Why, in 2013 (now 2014), are we still falling in this well known pitfall? Why, after all these years of evangelism by Steve Blank, Eric Ries and all the others, are we - and I include myself - still failing to resist the temptation of writing code before any proper validations? Why can’t we simply learn from others? Do we really have to hit the wall ourself?
So I decided to run some experiments to try to figure out why entrepreneurs start by building the product. Even though must of them know about the lean startup. I decided to dive in this quest using the validation board has explained by @TO. It gives you a scientific approach to a non-scientific experiment.
- Customers hypothesis: Entrepreneurs
- Problem hypothesis: Entrepreneurs don’t know how to apply the lean startup
- Solution hypothesis: It’s the first pivot… No solutions.
- They don’t know where to start (which step comes first).
- The can’t define the 3 steps of the lean cycle.
- They simply don’t know the lean cycle.
The riskiest assumptions
I had hard time to decide between 1 or 2 as the riskiest one. Since you only have 10 minutes per sections while filling up the validation board I picked They don’t know where to start. Since I’m in a early stage of the experiment I’ll go with Exploration so I won’t limit myself on the assumption 1. I may ended up knowing about all the rest by listening to the interviewees.
As for the metric, It’s usually quite hard to pick a good metric specially with qualitative data. I recently read about an approach to score interviews by @byosko. I’ll use a similar one to score my interviews. To get a passing grade I want to get 50% of the interviews scoring 25 or more points.
So now let’s get out of the building!
But wait… Some preparation is needed before going out for real. I want to have some questions to drive the interviews. Remember, in a good exploration interview, you should not ask questions directly related to the problem.
- Describe briefly what you know about the lean cycle.
- Tell me about when you started your latest business.
- If you could go back in the past, would you start the same way again? What would you change?
- Did you ever build the wrong product in any of your past businesses? If yes, why do you think it happened?
Now it’s about time to go out of the building!
Let’s keep in touch for the results.