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The Lean Product Playbook by Dan Olsen

The full title of this book by Dan Olsen is

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

In my review posted on Amazon.co.uk, I gave it 3 Stars.

Here is my review.

Excellent for software development, an interesting start for others but it becomes less relevant.

This book is mainly written about and for software and IT products and services but many of the early ideas are transportable to other types of products and services although some imagination is needed. I believe this should be made clear on the book cover and description, and if it had been, my rating would have been higher.

The author presents a five part framework based on understanding customers and designing products to fit their needs and wants.

For some time I was concerned that the book wasn’t going to distinguish between “must haves” and “nice to haves” but I was very pleased to see that it used the Kano model to help categorise and select the benefits you’re targeting in the product development. It also helps you to predict how customer value migrates from “new and exciting” to “expected” over time.

I don’t think there’s adequate consideration of cost, time, consistency and competitive imitation issues in the selection of the value proposition and the minimum viable product. This is because the book is written around developing software because that’s the author’s experience. Things get more complicated if you’re having to produce physical products or repeatable services. You also need to consider how easy it is for competitors to imitate your good ideas and especially if they are likely to have a natural advantage or can develop lower costs.

As I was reading it, I felt it became less and less relevant to my personal interests.

This is a good book packed with sensible tips if you fit into its target market. Since I work as a business coach, I buy a lot of books and I have several books that have come from the lean start-up theme but this is the first one I’ve read.

I was disappointed about how little there was in terms of a new perspective and I wonder whether the lean start-up movement is another example of repackaging old ideas as something new. A good idea is to start with the book that launched the lean start-up thinking called The Four Steps To The Epiphany by Steve Blank which gives a sharp contrast to the traditional way and can be adapted to non-technology based products.

If I was interested in developing a software project I’d be giving this book FIVE STARS. The author has a lot of high level experience in this area and he shares it freely. It’s less suitable for other business types but it’s not without value in its clear and systematic approach. However it can get frustrating and I’d recommend you look for other books as much of it is irrelevant and only worthy of 3 stars for the elements that you can filter out of the book.

There are many thousand of business books, you can see the full list of my reviews at Business Books Reviews by Paul Simister (Please click). I've also narrowed these down to a list of the 12 Best Business Books For Business Owners & Entrepreneurs (Please click).

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