A friend lent me The Lean Startup over the weekend, and within two days the Mother Sponge universe has experienced a significant and fundamental thought-shift. The big lesson from author Eric Ries thus far – throw out assumptions, consider what you don't really know, and find your way through new product development by testing ideas in the real world.
In other words, EXPERIMENT!
OK, experimental science is by no means a new idea, so what's the big deal?
The big deal is that choosing between assumptions and experimental evidence can make or break you as a startup searching for an attentive audience, a product that'll sell, a business in the black! And there is no way to really know if your assumptions are true unless you witness actual customers behaving in the way you hypothesized that they would.
Ries is among several current thought leaders in marketing and business discussing relating themes right now (see Seth Godin's Poke the Box and 37Signals' REWORK to name just a couple). And for good reason – experimentation is a lost art. Most of us lose the gift at some point in elementary school.
So ask yourself – do you really know there's a market that will demand your incredible new product? Before assuming anything, couldn't you start by running very quick, very inexpensive experiments to see who's out there and what they want? And if you continued testing and learning in short cycles, might you collect a lot of invaluable data in a short span of time?
Maybe. Probably worth finding out.