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by • September 16, 2011 • Lean startup meta, ProductComments (0)52

Misunderstanding pull in lean startups

I had planned to skip Eric’s book. I ended up being gifted a copy by Seedcamp (thanks!) and a casual flip-through turned into a full read. It is well worth the time.

It’s been most helpful in showing me instances where I had absorbed lean startup tactics while overlooking the first principles behind them. Eric’s done an admirable job painting the historical context instead of just rattling off best practices.

Some people misunderstand the Lean Startup model as simply applying pull to customer wants. This assumes that customers could tell us what products to build and that this would act as the pull signal to product development to make them…

[But] customers often don’t know what they want. Our goal in building products is to be able to run experiments… Thus, the right way to think about the product development process in a Lean Startup is that it is responding to pull requests in the form of experiments that need to be run.

As soon as we formulate a hypothesis that we want to test, the product development team should be engineered to design and run this experiment as quickly as possible, using the smallest batch size that will get the job done.

–The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, 2011, page 201

Clever experiment tactics are probably the wordiest bit of the lean startup echo chamber. I love the quote above because it cuts straight to the heart of what those manifold blog posts and presentation decks were all trying to say.

It also reminds us that you can’t make product decisions in a vacuum, makes a strong case for radical transparency of business goals to engineers, and lays down a crystal clear way to decide what to do next.

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