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Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy

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How do you develop products that people will actually use and buy? This practical guide shows you how to validate product and company ideas through customer development research--before you waste months and millions on a product or service that no one needs or wants.

With a combination of open-ended interviewing and fast and flexible research techniques, you'll learn how your prospective customers behave, the problems they need to solve, and what frustrates and delights them. These insights may shake your assumptions, but they'll help you reach the "ah-ha!" moments that inspire truly great products.

Validate or invalidate your hypothesis by talking to the right people
Learn how to conduct successful customer interviews play-by-play
Detect a customer's behaviors, pain points, and constraints
Turn interview insights into Minimum Viable Products to validate what customers will use and buy
Adapt customer development strategies for large companies, conservative industries, and existing products

240 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2014

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Cindy Alvarez

7 books11 followers

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5 stars
534 (45%)
4 stars
407 (34%)
3 stars
183 (15%)
2 stars
37 (3%)
1 star
16 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 58 reviews
Profile Image for Akshay.
41 reviews1 follower
February 29, 2016
I read this book as a part of a study group at work. We discussed 2-3 chapters each week, which is a good pace for this book because you do get the most value out of it if you can implement some of the practices as you read the book. I am more convinced as a result of reading this book that customer development is critical to my line of work, and I think that this book provides very valuable and practical tools to implement a customer development program, both for new ventures and for established corporations.

If you are looking for something very intellectually challenging, however, this might not be it. There are no revelations that you'll find spectacular, but you will find a very useful framework and context, and a vocabulary to bring your team together to talk about certain ideas that you're probably all thinking about in isolation.
Profile Image for Oleksandra Ovcharenko.
105 reviews1 follower
September 30, 2021
This book will help to understand - how to validate products - where to start - how to find customers without a finished product - how do customers make decisions, spend money, and measure product value - how to understand that the hypothesis is confirmed
and much more!
I'm sure that I will come back to this book more than once.

There are few cool thoughts from the book:

"• To get the customer talking, ask the top five consumer development questions, then move on to follow-up questions.

• Ask questions that require detailed answers so that clients do not limit themselves to superficial considerations.

• Find out what customers are doing today. Their behavior today is your competence.

• Go up one level to see the problem in a broader context.

• Focus not on the future, but on today's customer behavior. Don't ask if he's going to do something. Refer to the recent past and ask the client to tell you when and how they did it the last time, or how many times they did it in the last month.

• Beware of the client's mental blocks (he may not perceive the problem as such; think that it cannot be solved; perhaps he has limited resources or is afraid to violate socio-cultural prohibitions). Ask questions to help remove the blockage.

• Find out who else, besides the client, is involved in decision making (family members, managers, friends, etc.)."
Profile Image for Valentin.
44 reviews1 follower
May 1, 2016
Before reading this book I already read: The Lean Startup, Running Lean, UX for Lean Startup and I am half way through the Lean Analytics.

I found all O'Reilly books to be structured more like a framework some of them going so far to give you templates to use. They all reference the Lean start-up but adopt a more practical approach. While some part are valuable and really useful I usually find only 30-50% of the content to be really interesting. I would say that The Lean starup + Running Lean are quite enough. If you really want to go in depth go with The Lean Analytics also, but all the others, including Lean Customer Development don't really bring much new stuff.
Profile Image for Jose Papo.
260 reviews134 followers
June 8, 2014
An excellent how to book about customer development, interviews, validation of hypothesis and Minimum Viable Products.
Profile Image for Ahmad hosseini.
268 reviews65 followers
June 25, 2018
This book offers a view of how companies of any size can practice deep customer development in parallel with product development. It is full of actionable steps to make the most out of every conversation, user test, and feedback session.
This book is not only for startups but also for companies.
Profile Image for Krsiak Daniel.
52 reviews
March 14, 2021
Definitely useful for anyone in business who REALLY WANTS to listen to customers and appreciate the value and knowledge any support staff and team brings to the company yet is so very often simply dismissed or ignored.
Profile Image for Austeja St..
51 reviews3 followers
March 14, 2021
I loved the book. If one is very much involved in customer development, this might be too basic. But if not - author provides great overview, tips and tricks, also examples on what customer development is in early stages and also in mature companies, including advices how to involve more of organization into this process. A must read!
Profile Image for Bob Ferrante.
37 reviews1 follower
August 2, 2015
Useful if sometimes obvious

If you're interested in the question and answer process around developing new products, this book collates some useful info into a single place. If you want a good portmanteau for types of mvps, there are many chapters devoted to these.

Customer acquisition is not covered so if you're on the quest for customers and prospects, go elsewhere.
Profile Image for Pavel Annenkov.
394 reviews106 followers
October 31, 2019
К сожалению многие предприниматели при развитии бизнеса идут не от клиента, а от продукта и в итоге могут создать то, что не нужно клиентам вообще. Автор рассказывает как тестировать гипотезы о том, нужно ли клиентам то, что вы хотите создать. Даже когда вы исследовали рынок и поняли, что у потребителей существует боль и есть спрос на ваш продукт, то нужно разбираться какой именно продукт и с какими свойствами им нужен. Поэтому в процессе развития потребителей(customer development) главное это проверка обоснованности ваших гипотез. Альварес предлагает простую и понятную методику как это сделать.

Разобраться в правильном подходе к методу Customer development.

- Время, потраченное на общение с потребителями - лучшее вложение на этапе создания продукта.

- «Бережливое развитие потребителей включает пять составляющих:
• разработку гипотезы;
• поиск потенциальных потребителей, с которыми вы будете вести переговоры;
• постановку правильных вопросов;
• правильное истолкование ответов на эти вопросы;
• понимание того, какой продукт вам нужен, с учетом полученной информации.»

- Все люди разные, но законы психологии универсальны. Всех нас мотивируют три вещи:
• нам нравится помогать другим;
• нам нравится казаться умными;
• нам нравится решать проблемы.
Поэтому многие готовы потратить свое время на беседу о нашем продукте.

- Признаки подтверждающейся гипотезы
На то, что гипотеза подтверждается, обычно указывают следующие признаки.
• Потребитель признает наличие проблемы или болевой точки.
• Потребитель считает, что проблема может и должна быть решена.
• Потребитель активно расходует на решение проблемы ресурсы (силы, время, деньги, затраты на обучение).
• Потребитель полностью контролирует ситуацию; ничто не мешает ему решить проблему или устранить болевую точку.

- Стандартный список вопросов для проведения customer development.

Роб Фитцпатрик «Спроси маму»
2 reviews
September 19, 2022
Lean Customer Development is an essential book that will help you in your product discovery journey. The book shows you the importance of customer development, what should you do to start customer development practice, who should you be talking to, what should you be learning, how to analyze the results, and what MVP to build to test your hypotheses. The author shares many examples of how to do certain things such as interview questions, interviewee reach-out templates on LinkedIn, and many more. I also find the author’s real-life story on customer development very helpful for me to understand how customer development is done and what should I avoid next time! Though, one thing that I feel missing from this book is a section dedicated to sharing some tips on how to get company buy-in to invest in customer development.

I rate this book as 5 / 5. The book delivers what it promises, to help me as a person who is new to product discovery, to understand the right mindset and how to do customer development. I recommend this book to everyone who is seeking to start learning how to understand your customer and market needs with the goal to improve your odds of making a good decision that could benefit your customers and business. Hopefully, this review helps you to decide whether this is a good book for you!
Profile Image for Märt.
88 reviews13 followers
December 21, 2019
Good instructional book on how to carry out the iterative process of speaking to your potential customers to figure out what kind of product to build, then building it, getting more feedback, etc.

It focuses on the practical and nitty-gritty; nothing glamorous but really helpful when you’re in the process.

The book consists of 9 chapters, roughly covering the following (which should give some idea of the exact contents):

1: Facts supporting customer development
2: Assumptions, problem hypothesis, target customer profile
3: Find target customer, get them to talk with you
4: Types of questions that identify customer’s existing behaviours, pain points, constraints (and why questions work)
5: Successful customer interviews: how to introduce, get people talking, get beyond shallow answers about customer behaviour and needs
6: Synthesize valuable insights you’ve gained and use them to drive product and business decisions
7: Different kinds of MVPs and what situation each works well in
8: Set expectations and reassure customers
9: Fitting customer development into your everyday routine
Profile Image for Mikhail Filatov.
186 reviews7 followers
December 29, 2019
This book consists of two major parts:
1. 2/3 is about "customer development". Which is a strange mix of requirements gathering/validation and a lot of psychology (the author is actually a psychology major). It's useful if you are shy to talk with people (not necessary customers) but too general.
2. The second part is about MVPs and use of them both in startups and enterprises. Here the use cases are more close to real product development and interesting. It's just a reality check when you see a Kinect use case (the books is from 2013) as a "success" for Lean story :). There is no methodology - Agile, Lean, etc., which guarantee the success.
Profile Image for Joe.
77 reviews
May 21, 2020
Contains valuable ideas about how to better understand your customers and thus build better products. However, the distinction between *customer* development and *product* development seemed artificial. This book essentially takes a small part of the the overall product development process and zooms way in.

There is a lot of information that is repeat of books I have read prior to this one (i.e. Lean Startup, Running Lean, Inspired) so it was harder to find this one super valuable. Perhaps if I had read these books in a different order, my opinion would be different.

Overall, a book with some valuable nuggets but with way too much detail and repeated information.
Profile Image for Gene Ishchuk.
166 reviews63 followers
October 18, 2020
It is quite good, I wish I had it years ago - I wouldn't make that many errors being a product owner.
But well, no one does it in a perfect way since day one.
Some of the things are idealized, some of the suggestions are quite difficult to follow when you are the company of 3 but still, I wish I've read it some 4-5 years ago ;)
It is of use for product people and basically everyone working in startups.
Keeping it on my 're-read' list for future references, the section on interview questions & user perception is priceless.
Profile Image for Gaby Prado.
15 reviews7 followers
January 20, 2021
It does not offer nothing really new, but although it feels as yet-another-lean-hype-book, then it starts giving really useful tips and how-to ideas and advice.
Well researched, full of testimonials and real-world case scenarios.
Not a must-read, but interesting to those who are seeking to find new ways of inserting research in a new company.
It is most useful for those is startup or innovation environments, where there is no products, but it does acknowledge large and established companies and how to make this work in those environment.
Profile Image for Erin Cloutier.
62 reviews3 followers
June 12, 2018
I was recommended this book by a user experience researcher for a midsize company. I currently work for a small start up, so this book spoke to both of us! By far my favorite book in this LEAN series. Alvarez gives great examples, questions and doesn’t waste your time. It’s amazing that she can write about general situations we all experience with such distinct and specific helpfulness. This is a book I would want to put on my shelf in my office.
May 19, 2019
It is a great book for the ones wanting to learn customer development. Full of examples and in the apendix, several question that can be used in interviews. Most of the time organizations want to conduct research to prove the point they already have. That’s not the way to go. You have to be agnostic about customer opinion.
18 reviews6 followers
January 23, 2021
An excellent playbook to help product managers, and indeed product companies, actually listen to their customers and build what they need, not what they (or sales!) ask for. Plenty of good, actionable advice for PMs, CS and Sales teams. Recommended to anyone struggling to get interviews off the ground, or where discovery is an alien concept
Profile Image for Liezel.
318 reviews4 followers
July 24, 2022
I opted out of rating this book because I don’t think it would be fair. This book is super practical and goes i into great detail about recruiting customers for interviews and how to conduct those interviews. I have learned all of this from my lead designer already, so it was more of a refresher than new techniques
Profile Image for Pulkit.
Author 2 books2 followers
August 17, 2022
It's a good read in the sense that it's difficult to write an entire book about this topic. One can certainly compact all the insights in an article. However the importance is that this is not much talked about topic, even though it's the crux of building any product. To summarise, a marketer first needs to understand customer challenges and problem solve them.
Profile Image for Gerard Chiva.
64 reviews8 followers
January 9, 2019
Practical guide to customer development with plenty of examples and tips. A must for product discovery and user research.

It covers the whole lifecycle of a product from idea to established businesses.
41 reviews6 followers
January 31, 2019
Some sound advice on connecting with your customers. I particularly liked the focus on validating your hypothesis by interviewing potential customers. There are some good tips on how to find your target customers and how to interview them.
1 review
September 27, 2019
It's a great book for starting a startup, obviously after reading Lean Startup. It gives the tools for managing the most critical parts at the beginning, I recommend to follow it's instructions with a team of 2 or 4 people
Profile Image for Ned.
165 reviews1 follower
December 13, 2020
Practical advice on how to find what customers need. The first couple of chapters are nothing new but after that the recommendations are the value that the book adds. Lots of good questions in the appendix.
November 27, 2017
Хорошая книга. Для неспециалиста можно много подчерпнуть, но в рамках достаточно узкого профиля. Много внимания уделено деталям и советам.
Profile Image for Denis Romanovsky.
191 reviews
June 1, 2018
This is a great practical book on customer development. I liked very much the way it introduced all the customer development techniques with good explanations and real life examples.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
29 reviews
July 16, 2019
Excellent! Highly recommended for anyone having trouble finding the perfect product to market fit (which is pretty much every startup I've worked with!)
January 22, 2020
Awesome book for practical customer development thinking. Examples may be a bit dated but the concepts are well communicated.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 58 reviews

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