Not finding out what your customers want kills your startup. It’s the single most important thing our team needs to be focusing on. And it is your job as the CEO, to lead the way in discovering how you’re going to find product-market fit. I’ve found that creating a product team that runs lean is the best way to do this.
A lean product team will run circles around a desire to be visionary. Unless you want to bet you have the ability to be a visionary like Steve Lobs, banking on an untested vision is just rolling the dice. Lets go to Vegas and put it all on red instead.
What a lean product team should do is find out how to discover the customer problem’s problem with as little waste as possible. Think of it as a roadmap to the treasure chest. Below, I’ll outline the best way to go about this. Run an entire process yourself, and you’ll achieve average results if you’re lucky. Teach others to run a process you created, and you’ll build a company that can become an empire.
1. Force your team to outline the customer problem before creating a hypothesis
What do you get when you put together a bunch of smart people and tell them to build something? Nine times out ten, you get junk. Now get the same people together and give them a problem to solve, and you’re more than halfway there.
Your job as a leader is to create a team of people who are all smarter than you, and then create an environment for them to succeed. To do this, you want them to first figure out what they need to solve. You can’t solve a puzzle if you don’t know which puzzle you’re solving.
2. Build a process that forces a hypothesis before features
Before you let your team start throwing up a bunch of features, force them to first outline a hypothesis to solve a problem. Eric Ries would love me for saying this; it has lean startup written all over it.
You want to build this process in a way that allows you to be removed from the situation. Automation is your friend. The way to do this is to give your team a path to follow that gets narrower and narrower until you hit the destination. Many people believe these constraints ruin imagination. They are all wrong. True innovation is being creative under difficult constraints.
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