Learning To Add Value

Eric Ries, the author of the Lean Startup, shares:

”Validated learning is the process of demonstrating empirically that a team has discovered valuable truths about a startup’s present and future business prospects.”

So how do you measure progress, by:

  • The work that is proceeding according to plan?
  • The work being of high quality?
  • The costs being under control?

While the characteristics are a real litmus test of progress, they can also lead to you building a product that no one wants. How did you get to that point, by making assumptions about how customers will use your product. These mental models might have been formed by customer surveys or market trends.

Unfortunately, these models only paint a partial picture of your business prospects.

If you want to build a product that customers want to use, you need to focus on learning what the customer values.

Ries explains:

”Note that this is different from asking customers what they want. Most of the time customers don’t know what they want in advance.”

Ries continues:

”Thus, validated learning is backed up by empirical data collected from real customers.”

There are multiple strategies to test assumptions: build a prototype or create a minimal viable product: then allow real customers to use the product. Your responsibility is to collect feedback so you can align the product with the customers’ real needs.

If you don’t focus on validated learning, you will naturally produce more waste, than value.