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Customer-Driven Development

Converting customer insights into successful products

Travis Lowdermilk
Jessica Rich

Learn how to leverage customer development and design thinking to create products your customers will love. In this three-hour, hands-on course, you’ll gain experience with a Lean framework and proven strategies that will enable you to effectively transition between customer and product development, tracking your progress and making informed decisions regarding your product strategy.

Customer-Driven Development will increase your team's ability to deliver products and features that drive customer satisfaction. You’ll participate in activities and exercises designed to foster creativity and communication within your team as you learn new methods to unlock new customer insights and perspectives.

What you'll learn-and how you can apply it

  • How to leverage customer data to build successful products
  • A structured framework that will help your team successfully move from customer to product development
  • How to frame problems to unlock creative potential
  • A strategy for tracking the progress of a product's development
  • How to test conceptual ideas with customers to determine viability

And you’ll be able to:

  • Identify customer assumptions and convert them into testable hypotheses.
  • Conduct interviews to validate your customers' motivations, problems, values, and desires.
  • Use design thinking to convert customer problems into testable concepts.
  • Utilize the "build, measure, learn" strategy to iterate and refine solutions so they meet customers’ needs.
  • Make strategic product decisions with confidence and reduce risk.

This training course is for you because...

  • You’re a product manager looking for new business opportunities
  • You’re a UX professional and you want to understand how to leverage customer insights to influence product decisions
  • You’re a member of a product team looking for tools, templates, and activities to effectively implement Lean principles and design thinking within the development lifecycle
  • You’re a creative looking for new ways to unlock innovative ideas


  • Participants should have a basic understanding of Lean principles and methodology.

Note: This course includes exercises and activities that are highly collaborative and intended for small groups. While this course can be completed by a single person, we encourage you to take the course with your team so you can work on exercises together. If you choose to join as a team, we recommend that you participate in the same physical location; we find that the discussion and exploration of ideas is easier when all the members of the team are together.

If you participate as an individual, we’ll connect you with other participants by assigning you to a group in Slack.

Slack access is not required but is strongly recommended to get the benefit of full participation in the small-group exercises.

Required materials

For team activities and brainstorming sessions:

  • Post-It notes
  • Whiteboard
  • Highlighters
  • Black sharpie markers
  • Concept Value Test template (link to be provided by instructors)

Recommended Preparation:

The Customer-Driven Playbook: Converting Customer Insights into Successful Products

Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers will Buy

Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience

About your instructor

  • Travis has been building software experiences as both a developer and designer for over 15 years. Currently, Travis is a UX Designer at Microsoft, helping teams apply customer development and design-thinking to their products. Travis is also the author of User-Centered Design: A Developer’s Guide to Building User-Friendly Applications.

  • Jessica Rich is a UX Researcher at Microsoft with a PhD in Human Factors. With over a decade of experience in the software industry, Jessica has lead teams through customer and product development using Lean strategies.


The timeframes are only estimates and may vary according to how the class is progressing

Part I: Customer Development - 1 hour

The Power of Assumptions (10 min.): Learning how assumptions can influence product strategy.

Activity - Capture customer and problem assumptions (10 min.): Teams will spend time articulating assumptions about their target customers. Individually they will capture their assumptions about their customers including customer motivations, context, skills, job responsibilities, and problems/limitations on post-it notes. As a group, teams will share their notes and begin to organize them into an affinity diagram to look for patterns.

The Hypothesis Progression Framework (20 min.): Introduction of the four stages (customer, problem, concept, and solution) of the HPF. We'll also cover what makes a great hypothesis.

Activity - Write a Customer and Problem Hypothesis (10 min.): Using the provided template, teams will articulate a hypothesis that states what they believe customers are motivated by and what problems they encounter.

Conducting a Customer Interview (10 min.): We'll provide instruction on how to test hypotheses using a customer interview guide.

Part 2: Product Development - 2 hours

Building the Right Thing

Activity - Framing the Problem (20 min.): Using a design-thinking methodology, teams will learn how to properly frame a problem in order to unlock new ideas and solutions. We'll also conduct a decision-making exercising using the impact/effort model to group ideas based on the effort required and the potential product impact.

Activity - Writing a Concept Hypothesis (10 min.): Using our template, teams will take their best ideas and create a testable hypothesis and articulate success criteria. Activity - Building a Concept Value Test (30 min): Using our Concept Value testing outline, teams will create a concept that can be validated with customers.

Building it the Right Way

Activity - Using Storyboards (10 min): Teams will imagine and sketch their concepts in context of a specific scenario.

Activity - Writing a Solution Hypothesis (5 min.): Using our template, teams will hypothesize what they believe will happen when customers interact with their solution and determine a success criteria.

Conducting a Quick Pulse Study (30 min.): Teams will learn how to conduct rapid, iterative testing, ensuring their solution is usable. They will see how their hypotheses can be used to track progress and pivots along the way.

Sharing Knowledge (15 min.) : Strategies that bring it all together, organizing teams so they can share knowledge with stakeholders and influence decision making.

Describe how you’ll evaluate the outcomes of the course:

Students/teams will understand the power of articulating assumptions using testable hypotheses Students/teams will have new strategies for collecting customer feedback, in a way that unlocks new ideas and perspectives Students/teams will have new tools that help organize their teams during planning sessions, helping them identify and prioritize product or feature ideas Students/teams will be able to successfully navigate between customer motivations, customer problems, concepts, and solutions.