I just finished reading one of the best books I have read in a long time (and I read a lot of books). It’s called The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Eric provides a scientific and proven approach to creative and innovative product developments. Although the context is for a startup business, it is just as relevant for an established business that wants to innovate. In fact he gives some good examples of large corporations using his methods to develop new products.
Eric Ries suggest you look at each new idea as a hypothesis or multiple hypotheses. At The Business Therapist we have lots of hypotheses. One of them is as follows:
We believe we can package good business advice as ‘knowledge as a product’ and provide it for sale on our website. By providing this advice at a fraction of the price that it would cost in the traditional business advisory world, it offers great value to the smaller end of the business marketplace.
He also suggests we only develop the product to the ‘minimum viable product’ stage before getting out in front of real customers. The longer the product development cycle takes, the more investment of time and resources is consumes. His methodology encourages the shortest possible feedback loop in a ‘Build Measure Learn’ process. In other words, turn your visionary idea into a product as fast as possible and then get it out in the marketplace to test your hypothesis. By doing this, you don’t waste money developing a product that nobody wants. He also describes non-traditional ways to measure the success of the idea in the marketplace.
An excellent idea in The Lean Startup is the ‘pivot or persevere’ decision. Since entrepreneurs are typically emotionally attached to their product ideas, there is a tendency to hang in there too long. This wastes time and money. The pivot or persevere process forces a non-emotional business like review of the hypothesis.
At The Business Therapist we just did a major ‘pivot’. Through testing of our Vision Self Study Program, it became crystal clear that presenting the knowledge utilizing video was much more appealing to small business owners than asking them to read 25 pages of great printed knowledge. This pivot saved us from wasting resources creating great pieces of paper that few people want to read.
In summary, the book is a comprehensive approach to business innovation for the current reality. He makes a good case why some of the existing management models and assumptions are out of date.
I would only recommend you read this book if your business wants to be creative and innovative in a successful and efficient way. Having said that, it makes me wonder who doesn’t think that way?