As part of a women’s network book club within my company, I was introduced to the book Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, recommends for all his managers. The Lean Start-up is essentially the scientific method from a business perspective. You have an idea for a product, so you start collecting some background information. Once you establish you have a novel idea, you create your hypothesis about what might be a good product based on what you think the customer wants. You develop a product, then let the customer test the product. In business as well as in science, refining of that hypothesis is always necessary. After analyzing your data and appropriate statistical metrics, you try again.

Take-aways include 1) customers don’t always know what they want until they have a prototype in their lap so perfecting a first product is almost always a waste of time, 2) spend as little time as possible on things that don’t directly benefit the customer, 3) use appropriate statistics to measure how well a product is doing, and 4) when it’s not working, you’ve got to move on. This cycle should theoretically happen as fast as possible. Customers should have a product and subsequent product re-iterations in days or weeks, not years.

As a young person, it’s easy for me to say that times will always be changing. As a consumer I expect new and better products that are progressively more customized. As a consumer and a scientist I know that a hypothesis is constantly evolving, because we’re always acquiring more information and experience.

Recommended for business-types who aren’t from a technical background. Be prepared for good ideas interspersed with lengthy examples that seem to dissolve into one another.