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The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback

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The missing manual on how to apply Lean Startup to build products that customers love

The Lean Product Playbook is a practical guide to building products that customers love. Whether you work at a startup or a large, established company, we all know that building great products is hard. Most new products fail. This book helps improve your chances of building successful products through clear, step-by-step guidance and advice.

The Lean Startup movement has contributed new and valuable ideas about product development and has generated lots of excitement. However, many companies have yet to successfully adopt Lean thinking. Despite their enthusiasm and familiarity with the high-level concepts, many teams run into challenges trying to adopt Lean because they feel like they lack specific guidance on what exactly they should be doing.

If you are interested in Lean Startup principles and want to apply them to develop winning products, this book is for you. This book describes the Lean Product Process: a repeatable, easy-to-follow methodology for iterating your way to product-market fit. It walks you through how to:

Determine your target customers Identify underserved customer needs Create a winning product strategy Decide on your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Design your MVP prototype Test your MVP with customers Iterate rapidly to achieve product-market fit

This book was written by entrepreneur and Lean product expert Dan Olsen whose experience spans product management, UX design, coding, analytics, and marketing across a variety of products. As a hands-on consultant, he refined and applied the advice in this book as he helped many companies improve their product process and build great products. His clients include Facebook, Box, Hightail, Epocrates, and Medallia.

Entrepreneurs, executives, product managers, designers, developers, marketers, analysts and anyone who is passionate about building great products will find The Lean Product Playbook an indispensable, hands-on resource.

336 pages, Kindle Edition

First published March 16, 2015

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About the author

Dan Olsen

1 book80 followers
Dan Olsen is an entrepreneur, consultant, and Lean product expert. He is also the author of The Lean Product Playbook, the missing manual on how to apply Lean Startup to build products that customers love. Learn more at http://leanproductplaybook.com/.

Dan earned a BS in electrical engineering from Northwestern and an MBA from Stanford. He also earned a master's degree in industrial engineering from Virginia Tech, where he studied the lean manufacturing principles that inspired the Lean Startup movement.

Dan lives in Silicon Valley, where he hosts the monthly Lean Product Meetup http://meetup.com/lean-product. He enjoys sharing and discussing his ideas with as many people as he can and gives talks and workshops frequently.

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5 stars
1,283 (48%)
4 stars
982 (36%)
3 stars
316 (11%)
2 stars
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17 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 223 reviews
1 review5 followers
July 14, 2015
I am a 24-year old product owner for an educational mobile app company and this book has been incredibly helpful for me as I learn about how to develop products. I come from a non-technical background and have only been the PO for a couple of months, so I have looked for any and every book to help me out.

This title says it all because it really is a playbook for how to go about building the product. I found it to be much more practical than the Lean Startup and here are some of the key takeaways:
- Focus on the Problem Space before jumping to the Solution Space. Some product teams jump right to the feature set without establishing the problem space first.
- Build, Measure Learn can be broken down more so to Hypothesize, Design, Test, Learn as you jump from problem-space to solution space. Always test with real customers as soon as possible. Something as easy as clickable wireframes are fine.
- Select the key metrics that you want to track, establish benchmarks and then iterate off of those. Prioritize based on feature set with the highest ROI and highest upside.

In addition to this book, I would recommend Inspired by Marty Cagan. I'm reading Lean Product Playbook for the second time now and have shared this book with my CEO, design lead and analytics team as well. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Cem Guvener.
38 reviews2 followers
February 13, 2017
Great read for product management. Beginner or seasoned in product management? Doesn't matter. I'd definitely suggest it either to learn more or remind yourself some of the basics.
Profile Image for Sebastian Gebski.
917 reviews780 followers
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April 9, 2017
No star rating as this is just the synthesis of previous "Lean series" books, mainly Lean Startup & Lean UX. It's well written, but there's barely any genuine & original content, except of 1 full chapter which is a real-life case of product pivot (very interesting, TBH).

So if you've already read other books in the series, you can easily skip this one. Otherwise, it's not a bad way of getting familiar with the idea - none of synthesised topics feel too shallow, which makes this book quite a good primer.
Profile Image for Daniel.
60 reviews7 followers
November 5, 2022
Sometimes the education you get from a book is worth more than your academic degree.

Well, this is my feeling after reading this book.

"Product" is a valuable skill.

The practice of figuring out explicitly "why" you should build something for a particular audience to address their "underserved" needs in a scientific way is very often overlooked.

We move too fast from problem space to solution space. We want to get our hands dirty and start building as soon as possible. We think what we recognized is a "real" problem and the "right" problem to address without giving it second thoughts.

We confuse assumptions with facts.

We have a bias for action. Not the "right" course of action necessarily.

From this book, you learn a lot of ideas, facts, frameworks, approaches, mindsets, and examples about the "right" course of action before, while, and after building a product.

It took me +500 highlights and ~30 hours to finish!
Many things "unknown unknown" for me. By that, I mean things I didn't know I didn't know!

This is outstanding work!

Happy reading! 📙
Profile Image for Petar Ivanov.
83 reviews21 followers
April 5, 2021
A great read for product development and entrepreneurship. It's consisted of very practical, simple, and logical ideas. It's vital to have the right basis, and that's what this book offers you. One of the stunning concepts is to define well the Problem Space and then jump to Solution one. It's a simple but very crucial step during the development of a product. I also like the author's interpretation about the Build, Measure, Cycle and how he describes it like Hypothesize, Design, Test, Learn.
At the beginning of the year, I've started reading the book as trying to read it iteratively and try to put many of the ideas and concepts into practice. However, I would recommend going through it first and then revisiting some of the sections when you need it.
I don't regret that I bought the book on paper for my personal library some time ago. Recommend it to anyone interested in building and launching products. In my opinion, it's a must-have!
10 reviews
September 27, 2021
What a valuable book! If you want a primer to product management, look no further than this. Simple language and lots of examples. Structurally, this book is divided into three parts - Core Concepts, Lean Product Process, Building and Optimizing.

In the first part Olsen covers the differences between problem-space and solution space and how it is much more essential to cover the problem space before you start building a great UX or start using the most upto date technology (AI/ML I am looking at you!). He also explains the Lean Product Process pyramid, which represents how you should be thinking of your product, from the bottom to the top layer:
- Target customer
- Underserved needs
- Value proposition
- Feature set
- UX

The idea is that the bottom layer must have some degree of resolution, before you invest a lot in the upper layers. The first two layers being the problem space layers, are the utmost important - if these are shaky, then the product wont survive too long. The Value proposition is how you differentiate yourself from your competition. And the rest of the two are the cherry on the cake, opportunities to delight the customer.

The next part covers all the steps of the Lean product process in detail to conceptualize, validate and create a product with the right Product-Market-Fit. Olsen supplements this with a lot of practical examples and his own experiences at Intuit, Friendster and other numerous startups. The main way Olsen advocates tackling the product-market fit continously is via regular user validation both qualitative and quantitative via mockups, interviews, A/B testing, analytics etc.

The last part of the book is on implementation using Agile frameworks like Scrum and Kanban, and post implementation metrics to understand optimization of the product. I found the analytics part particularly valuable as to how to understand which metrics to use for your business and how to go about optimizing them.

Great book for anyone who wants to build a successful product! Also found his youtube channel very valuable - https://www.youtube.com/c/DanOlsen
Profile Image for Zumrud Huseynova.
131 reviews2 followers
June 22, 2020
For software, the product itself is intangible code, often running on servers that the customer never sees. The real-world manifestation of software products that customers see and use is the user experience (UX)

Customers and their needs, which you can target but can't change

See the difference between problem space and solution space.

Strategy Means Saying “No”

Usability answers the question, “Can customers use your product?” Delight answers the question, “Do customers enjoy using your product?”
Profile Image for Tony Sheldon.
97 reviews84 followers
May 9, 2022
No nonsense guide to achieving product-market fit and building a great product pipeline from end to end and with a great feedback loop to learn faster and be lean.

This is the kind of book that makes me so happy. Timeless advice, tightly packed, just enough examples, easy to read, worthy of taking notes from and more than 50% highlightable.

5 stars for this Book-Reader Fit. Highly advised for product owners and exntrepreneurs.
Profile Image for Karandeep Baweja.
1 review3 followers
March 16, 2017
A great read for entrepreneurs and PM's. Crystallises the whole process reduces uncertainty in one of the most important part of your startup's journey.
Profile Image for Wyatt Thompson.
2 reviews2 followers
June 8, 2020
Really liked this book. I've been a PM for a few years but mostly learned on the job. I wish I had read this when I first started. It allowed me to take a step back and see how everything is supposed to be working together.

I especially like the section of the Kano Model and scoring Must Have / Performance / Delighter features against competitors for a MVP. A lot of times, I think I've launched MVPs that are too "minimal".
21 reviews3 followers
May 30, 2020
I picked up this book to get an idea of what product management is. This lays a very good layout of the different concepts involved in PM. It also provides relatable examples and easy rules of thumbs for practitioners. I thoroughly enjoyed the metrics section of the book.
Profile Image for Rishi.
79 reviews
February 17, 2021
Very clear and concise methodology towards building a new product. It is not so much for Series C startups and beyond as much as it is for the earlier stage startups. Loved the logical flow in which the book is written. It is almost like a train journey starting from the idea station to the destination station of "live product"
Profile Image for Richa.
10 reviews2 followers
October 17, 2019
Good enough to understand product management from start, sometime it is too much in detail and repetitive. Still good to start with this book.
Profile Image for Dmytro Chaban.
45 reviews2 followers
December 23, 2019
After this book, I'm feeling like I was really dumb. Now I understand how product development works and, most importantly, how to validate product-market fit
Profile Image for Atilana Piñon.
1 review1 follower
March 26, 2020
It's a good book for people trying to initiate as a Product Manager in a tech company. It gives you the best practices to have a product-market fit with your product.
Profile Image for Apurva Misra.
46 reviews1 follower
October 20, 2021
I think everyone should read this book from software engineers to product managers to understand how a product inception lifecycle should work and what steps are important before diving straight into development. It drills down to how to understand if a product would have an impact and emphasizes the point that there should always be equal importance given to qualitative and quantitative analysis based on what stage the product is at.
Profile Image for Galileo Valiente.
35 reviews7 followers
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July 10, 2022
Who should read this? Add the words "consumer software product" in the title.

Let's make the title more specific:
The Lean Software Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Software Product.

That said, it's a good read if you are in the business (or planning to) of building a software product intended to be used by end-users (not enterprise software).
Profile Image for Arnab Dey.
24 reviews3 followers
October 22, 2020
Very well structured and helped me appreciate product management for what it is all over again!
1 review1 follower
December 24, 2022
This is a brilliant start for anyone who's breaking into product management field. I came from a non technical background and this book introduce the principals that any aspiring product manager need. The language used is easy to understand. Really enjoyed reading it & was super helpful.
Profile Image for Jacob.
72 reviews14 followers
September 27, 2022
Great handbook for building products step by step. It's does not guarantee success though.

This book, is a good supplement to Lean Startup that goes a little deeper into the process of product development.

Chapters about the importance of design and agile development don't bring much actionable value, and are better to be learned from other books, but are good reminders that your product needs to be appealing, and it's good to have some development process even when building 0->1 product.

I also like advice for user testing. Especially to perform users tests with interactive design mockups before actually building the product. InVision is one of the tools that can be used to build interactive mockups: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOp97... On top of that author shares a lot of good advice on Quantitative and Qualitative testing, and why you need both.

Advice for "Shiny new idea syndrome" (https://medium.com/@MaryLouWrites/shi... when coming up with new product idea, do not jump to it (pivot) before iterating on current idea at least 2-3 times!

Some of the success/failures stories that author shared are easy to narrate today. E.g., Apple features. Back then, there were for sure multiple different product teams making as good or even better decisions and not succeeding. While there were also teams making, from theoretical POV worse decisions and succeeding. There is always element of luck, timing, marketing and quality of delivery that plays a role, which author didn't cover.

Great book summary: https://tdevroome.medium.com/book-sum...

Other good summaries:
- https://youexec.com/book-summaries/th...
- https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/resume...
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_c-B...
- https://tuningjohn.com/book/leanproduct/
Profile Image for Vitor Kneipp.
22 reviews2 followers
November 28, 2022
At Pivotal Labs (and later Tanzu Labs), we became known for having a very opinionated approach to software product development. And one that worked.

This approach was, and to certain extent still is, heavily inspired in Extreme Programming (XP) principles, while user-centred design (UCD) and lean methods also play a role. As a consulting firm more interested in enabling customers to run fast but without us, the mix of XP, UCD and Lean addresses the bigger issue of clients: the *process* of innovation. Through process, we got to culture, which then builds momentum for ever faster iterations and incredible business results.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” So our work on process and culture led thousands of product teams to become incredibly mature and to develop their own way of working after we spent time together.

BUT we never actually needed to be truly great at product strategy. The diagnostics were often that the customer lacked the basic cultural processes in place, so there should be the focus (and rightly so).

The world has changed. There are more mature product orgs than ever. But how do you make strategy a bottom-up process, without missing the big picture?

I have a lot to thank Dan for sharing his thinking on this regard and helping to shape mine. I am a significantly more capable consultant, entrepreneur and teacher because of what I learned from this book.

My favourite part is the process Dan calls “product strategy”, a comparison grid of customer-prioritised benefits (not features), which allows you to spot unexploited combinations of benefits that your product team could experiment addressing. This reads to me more as a “product positioning” or “unique value proposition” grid (because it is one of three components of product strategy: research + positioning + roadmap).

The newer you are to product, the more relevant this book is to you. But even experienced professionals will become more critical after reading it.
Profile Image for Harish.
13 reviews3 followers
December 8, 2022
Despite multiple product books covering the major themes of Custom Discovery, Acheiving PMF, Prioritization, lean Product Processes, Product Analytics and experimentation, Dan Oslen's take on these themes with examples from his previous stinits at Frendster and Intuit etc, provides more clarity and deeper understanding on how to build successful products that customers absoulute love! Really love some of the frameworks described in the book which have practical applicability and can be used by PMs across organizations- Problem vs Solution space, Prioritizing customer needs using importance vs satisfaction framework, PMF pyramid and usign Retention to understand PMF, Equations to break down MTMM, Builing MVP for constinuouss feedback, Using both qualitative and quantitative metrics etc. As Dan Oslen rightly said:

"You need both Oprah and Spock to build a successful product!"
Profile Image for Tauri Laane.
313 reviews79 followers
October 9, 2022
I have been listening to a lot of those books this year and I was skeptical about learning anything new. But the book surprised me - it's such a practical one. The author was a core team member with a software that came to market as 47th and still won first place, because of UI and design (and those because of good lean practices, mostly with clients). It covers the whole spectrum: how to come up with good ideas, how to investigate the competition, in what order what to build, scrum and kanban, how to test the design, about colors and fonts, and in the end a lot of equations to calculate the ever-changing product-market fit. I should listen to it again in 6 months, a really good one. Especially I would recommend this to to beginners, because it covers a lot of what I already knew from my own practice (and I agree with 100% of it).
Profile Image for Barry Graubart.
28 reviews10 followers
October 18, 2015
Great book. Really does a great job at walking through the full product development lifecycle from a product management standpoint. Great and practical focus on how to bring minimum viable product to market; how to run a beta to gather feedback, etc.

I also like that it's not limited to startups; most of what's in here is applicable to both startups and more mature businesses.

If you're a fan of Steve Blank's approach to product management, this is a great companion (and is better written than the Blank books IMO).

Profile Image for Edilson.
51 reviews3 followers
May 29, 2016
O livro foca em Startups, empreendedorismo e lançamento de novos produtos através de princípios de Lean Startup, Customer Development, Lean UX, Design Thinking, product management, user experience design, Agile Development e analytics.

São apresentadas formas estruturadas de segmentação de clientes e entendimento de suas necessidades, criação da proposta de valor e Produtos Minimamente Viáveis para testes de viabilidade comercial.

Excelente material de referência para empreendedores.
Profile Image for Gerry.
1 review
January 3, 2017
One of the thing Olsen address so well in this book is how to quantify - put into a measurable metric - qualitative user stories to reinforce decision and determine priority in building product features. I'm a product builder and a marker launcher who came from creative agencies and market research agencies background; I think his methods are consistent with the principals I've applied at my previous roles
Displaying 1 - 30 of 223 reviews

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