The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback

Written By James King

4 min read

Dan Olsen - The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback

The Lean Product Playbook is a practical guide to building products that customers love. Whether you work at a startup or a large, established company, we all know that building great products is hard. Most new products fail. This book helps improve your chances of building successful products through clear, step-by-step guidance and advice. - Amazon Product Description

In a nutshell description

The Lean Product Playbook provides a framework to approaching product development, building on the core values established in Eric Ries’ groundbreaking work: The Lean Startup.

Author Dan Olsen repeatedly emphasises the importance of finding product-market fit quickly and efficiently.

In particular, Olsen’s Product-Market Fit Pyramid and six-step Lean Product Process provide actionable guidelines with which to approach building a product that will delight customers. Finding and solving customer problems underpins everything in this book, with the need for rapid feedback and iteration also a constant theme.

Quotes to make you think

“A good product is designed with focus on the set of needs that are important and that make sense to address together.”

“Focus is critical when defining a new product.”

“The real-world manifestation of software products that customers see and use is the user experience (UX), which is the top layer of the Product-Market Fit Pyramid. Beyond software, this is also true for any product with which the customer interacts. The UX is what brings a product's functionality to life for the user.”

“The main reason products fail is because they don't meet customer needs in a way that is better than other alternatives.”

“Usability answers the question, “Can customers use your product?” Delight answers the question, “Do customers enjoy using your product?”

Why I love this book

I read The Lean Product Playbook at the right time, just as I began to spend a large part of my working life building products.

I loved how clearly Olsen set out a process towards building products with tools that I could take away and apply to my own work.

It turns out that it’s more difficult in practice to stick to the Lean Product Process than I had expected, and I’ve learnt the hard way about the risks of pressing ahead without user feedback. The experience has made me even more convinced that everyone involved in product development should read this book (if ever there has been a book that I wish I could force colleagues to read, this is it!).

Read this book if…

You are involved with developing products at any level. The obvious use case relates to products designed for consumers, but the underlying philosophy applies to a much wider range of scenarios at work. For example, if you are tasked with creating reports for management, the principles and tools in The Lean Product Playbook will help you deliver it successfully.

What others say about it

"Dan's playbook is the missing manual on how to apply Lean Startup principles. This comprehensive, straightforward book guides you through everything you need to know to build a winning product." — Sean Ellis, CEO of Qualaroo and

"A great, detailed guide on how to find product-market fit and make things people will love. This book should be required reading for everybody building products." — Laura Klein, Author of UX for Lean Startups

"Dan's product expertise was incredibly helpful in the early days of building and growing Box. I found his advice incredibly valuable — and if you want to build a successful product, you will too." — Aaron Levie, CEO, Box

Some good further reading/watching/listening

Watch this presentation by Dan Olsen about how to reach product-market fit.

Where to get it

About the author

Dan Olsen is an entrepreneur, consultant, author, speaker, and expert in product management and Lean Startup. He began his career building nuclear-powered submarines and now, as founder of Olsen Solutions, he works with CEOs and product leaders to help them build great products and strong product teams, often as interim VP of Product. Find out more about where we copied most of this bio from on Dan’s website.

Publication Date

May 21, 2015

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