Steve Blank radicalized the idea of how we build products (or services - every time I mentioned product in the below text, we assume "product or service") and how we make it work within the context an organization operates in. Whereas in the past organizations were using their resources mostly to create huge market research reports, Steve Blank describes, that the following 4 steps would help product people to achieve the epiphany. Instead of only building products, entrepreneurs should also focus on how to create customers. This approach is called Customer Development (as a companion to Product Development):
- Customer Discovery - Find out, who your customers are.
- Customer Validation - Find out, if your customers are reacting positively to the product.
- Customer Creation - create end-user demand and drive that demand into the company’s sales channel.
- Company Building - only now you can scale as the company has proven to be able to create sales from the product.
Eric Riess took this customer development approach as the core for his Lean Startup approach. Instead of building a product, which nobody will use after it's development, he suggests to build customers alongside the product to ensure, that the costs of failure is as low as possible. Therefore, creating strong connections to potential (or through Customer Discovery probable) customers will help you to understand their problem for which you can develop a solution (problem/solution fit), then see, if there would be a market for this product (Product / Market Fit or MVP) and only then scale the product or service securely.
Lean though leaders such as Eric Riess, Steve Blank, Ash Maurya or Alex Osterwalder therefore never believe, that you do have the right answers and only the customers can give you the right answers to build the right product (and therefore being effective). So, instead to surprise your customers with a finished solution, it is more important, that you experiment your solution and then get clear validated feedback from the customers, that your solutions is solving their problem and they would pay money for it.
This is also, where the biggest misunderstanding for Minimum Viable Product (MVP) comes from: Whereas most companies think their assumption and it's execution is the Minimum Viable Product, we argue, that it this is merely the prototype to test your assumptions. The real MVP is the validation, that a customer might pay money for that product and therefore signalling you, that you can scale the product.
The role of a traditional Product Manager needs to change. Whereas a Product Manager would dig into data, their own experience and marktet research reports to find out the best, modern Product Managers are embracing the fact to learn from their customers and then being agile & quick enough to test new hypotheses based oin those learnings. A traditional Product Manager would be able to respond to questions on existing products and their technical implications - a new product manager is more a domain expert than a product development expert. Customer-Centric Organizations embracing the new role of the product manager and enable them to achiev an effective solutions, which helps solving the customer's problem.