Happy birthday to Lean Customer Development!

Lean Customer Development: Build Products Your Customers Will Buy is 7 years old this month! 

image of Lean Customer Development books, translated into Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, and Russian.

It has been translated into 5 languages (that I know of!) and is available in audiobook format. I’ve heard from folks from what feels like every corner of the globe.  You’ve used this book to help find connect with customers, launch new products, and bring your new companies to product-market fit.

And also… you probably don’t trust tech books or blog posts that are more than 2 years old, let alone 7! Typically, neither do I. Is this book still worth reading?

Yes – because at its’ heart, Lean Customer Development is about customers – humans – and how humans behave and react and converse hasn’t changed that quickly. I still use the same questions and approaches to this day. It’s still accurate and relevant.

Two (small) changes I’d make if I were writing today

First: I gave the advice to “ask your first question and then wait a full 60 seconds” before you spoke again. Don’t do that! 60 seconds is a long, agonizingly long time. 

You should wait after you ask the first question – and the explanation I gave in the book still stands – it signals to your interviewee that you’re the listener, not the lecturer.  It sets the tone that you are expecting paragraph answers, not one-word answers.  And you can accomplish that in 10 seconds. (Watch an example of me waiting 10 seconds after a question.)

Second: There’s also Chapter 3 – the “where to find people to talk to” locations have changed. Rapportive no longer exists.  Quora is no longer useful for finding ‘casual experts’.  My use of LinkedIn “inMails” has decreased sharply.  If I were writing that chapter today, I’d include a healthy disclaimer about how sites and social media are constantly evolving.  Still, I continue to use the tactics and outreach examples to this day.

That’s it.  The rest is still golden.

It’d been awhile since I re-read the book cover to cover. In a a few spots I found myself thinking “hmm, should’ve written about X” only to keep reading and realize that oh, I do write about X a couple chapters later. 

I give you my personal guarantee: it’s still good advice.  I hypothesize that it’ll still be useful in another 7 years from now, and that’s something I’m very proud of.

Bonus updates to get you started on learning from customers

What’s next?

I’m starting on a second book!  Lean Customer Development helped thousands of people and companies to learn about their customers’ needs and pain points, and to quickly iterate towards solutions.  We know what we should be doing… and yet – many of us struggle to build a continuous customer learning habit, and to successfully changes ideas and decisions from those insights.  How might we learn to more effectively communicate, collaborate, and problem-solve within our own workplaces?

You should join my mailing list so that you can be a part of this book’s founding team!