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

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Introduction: Why Products Fail and How Lean Changes the Game

Building great products is hard. We're all familiar with the sobering statistics about the high percentage of new products that fail. For every Apple, Google, Facebook, and other success story you hear, there are countless failed products causing startups to shutter their doors.

Think of all the products you've used in the last year. How many of those products do you love? How many do you hate? How many can you even remember? If you're like most people, you actually love a very small number of the products you use.

If you've been on a team that has built a product that customers love, you know how great that feels. Passionate users can't stop raving about your product. Your business metrics are growing up and to the right exponentially. You're struggling to keep up with the high demand. Customers want and value your product.

But the unfortunate reality is that very few products are like that. Why is it so hard to build a product that customers love? Why do so many products fail?

WHY PRODUCTS FAIL

Throughout my career, I've worked on and studied many different products. When I analyze the root causes of why products fail, a common pattern emerges. The main reason products fail is because they don't meet customer needs in a way that is better than other alternatives. This is the essence of product-market fit. Marc Andreessen of Netscape fame coined the term in 2007. In the same blog post he also contends, as I do, that ...

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