Eric Ries offers a compelling argument for working smarter and more efficiently in our rapidly changing world. Eric points out in his book that businesses have refined the process of finding the most efficient way to get from point A to point Z, but that we often forget to verify along the way that point Z is still a goal worth working toward. Even in a world of Agile development and short iterative work cycles, it’s critical that the channel of communication with your customer is never severed – no matter the length of time. As soon has you have a question about the product, it’s time to formulate a hypothesis and run an experiment. The results should clarify the most critical feature that your customer needs next, and that your customer is ultimately willing to buy.
Many of the examples in the book stem from online- and/or consumer-based markets. I’ve seen a lot of push back to these concepts in an industry where the product is “mission critical” and cannot fail. The beliefs that customers are ill-accepting of partial feature sets and Minimal Viable Product (MVP)s are unsellable are rampant. While these are very valid concerns, we should be unwilling to accept them as reasons to fall back to old development styles. The days of locking engineers in a room for months of design work are over.
Eric also points out that The Lean Startup is relatively new and is expected to morph to help solve future problems. I think it’s important that we find ways to adapt methodologies such as The Lean Startup and evolve them to satisfy the needs of more industries.