Killed by Expectations

The Disappointing Toaster

(This is a guest post by Dan Toma, Senior Innovation & Product Manager at Deutsche Telekom AG and author of the upcoming The Corporate Startup Book. You can find Dan on Twitter, LinkedIn or his blog.)

How much stress, anger and frustration can one simple malfunction or a minute delay in response cause? We experience expectation related frustration on a daily basis with the objects we interact with, the products that we purchase, and the services we acquire.

In order to consistently design better product, services, and experiences for their customers, there is one critical first step any entrepreneur needs to take: understand the customer’s needs better than the customer understands themselves.

Often times, we are disappointed by our peers, by particular experiences, by products that fail to deliver the job we hired them to do, or by services which, for one reason or another, don’t match out standards.

What do we do then?

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In my last post, I criticized adoption of the term Lean Enterprise and was accused of making a straw man argument.

That is 100% correct. It is a straw man argument.

It's the straw man that I'm arguing against.

The enterprise adoption of lean startup principles is following much the same course as startup ecosystems adopting lean startup. There's a lot of cargo cult buzzword adoption.

It's the Lean Hype Cycle.

That's ok. It takes some hype to get things rolling.

So let's dig deeper and deconstruct the straw man.

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Lean Enterprise & Innovation Ecosystems

Lean Startup +  Enterprise = Lean Enterprise

Compelling. Isn’t it?

The idea that an enterprise scale company with tens of thousands of employees can be as swift and nimble as a startup is enchanting...

...but it’s false.

Comparing an enterprise to a startup is like comparing an ocean to a dolphin. They simply don’t equate.

Enterprises can’t be like startups and they certainly can't be Lean Enterprises. They can however nurture startups as the ocean can hold and nurture an abundance of life.

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(This is part of a series of posts about testing product/market fit. You can download the Product/Market Fit Storyboard here.)

Back to the basics.

"Everyone" is not our customer.

Neither are "Consumers" or "SMBs."

Unless the problem we are solving is death, not everyone wants our solution.

Even then, not everyone wants our Grim-Reaper-Be-Gone!™ Spray. Some people just want to check out this of this madhouse.

(In case you were thinking it, taxes aren't a problem for everyone either.)

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Customers and Causality

(This is part of a series of posts about testing product/market fit. You can download the Product/Market Fit Storyboard here.)

When looking for product/market fit, we start with the customer. That's the "market" part of product/market fit.

Everything starts and ends with the customer.

Sometimes we start with the product or the friggin' awesome technology. Sometimes we might fool ourselves into starting with what we can get funding for. But at some point, we always backtrack to the customer.

Having a clear customer hypothesis is the first part of an MVP.

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(This is part of a series of posts about testing product/market fit. You can download the Product/Market Fit Storyboard here.)

The terms Product/Market Fit and Minimal Viable Product have been inexplicably (and inextricably) linked in the tech consciousness.

If people sign up for our MVP, that means we've got Product/Market Fit, right?

Nope.

As we discussed last week, Product/Market Fit is as much about being ready to scale as it is about having a desirable product.

If our MVP is just smoke test, a landing page just to test customer demand, certainly you're not ready to scale. (Frankly, calling most smoke tests an MVP is a serious stretch. We tend to forget that the 'V' stands for Viable.)

If our MVP is a Wizard of Oz test where you manually provide the service, you may not be ready to scale, but you may have a strong indication it's time to build a little bit more.

So what's in an MVP?

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