David Bland, co-author of Testing Business Ideas, spoke about his process in writing his book. True to his craft, he tested the content of his book as it was written.
Watch the video to see David’s talk in full. Or read on for an overview of his key points.
Build, Measure, Learn
A repeating theme in his book is the loop of: Build, Measure, Learn. However, many teams naturally end up with Build, Build, Build! Why Measure when you can Build more; why Learn when you can Build even more!
Learning is the most critical part of testing business ideas, so this is the part of the loop David focuses on first. The three key questions in the Learn stage are: Do they? Should we? Can we?
The team is trying to determine if the product is desirable, viable, and feasible.
To Learn, you need to Measure. You can collect qualitative and quantitative data which answer Why and What respectively.
Finally, you first need to Build. This involves conducting interviews, creating landing pages, and building MVPs.
Testing Your Ideas
Many teams struggle with designing experiments to generate learning. Taking a Jobs-To-Be-Done approach is helpful – what job does the product solve? When writing David’s book, he didn’t need to answer “why write this book?”, but rather “what job does the book solve for its readers?”.
It’s fairly straightforward to visualize strategy in a business model canvas. But… how do you create tests that provide feedback back to the canvas’ strategy?
To answer this, it only made sense to test the book about testing! This process is described in detail in this recording of David’s talk.
A book is typically a very waterfall process, so David turned it into a more agile process. He used Medium blog posts to test bits of content with readers, discussed with other writers, and listened to feedback from publishers.
While testing the book’s cover page, David described three major concept iterations. First, he tried diverging arrows to signify testing. That seemed to be about making decisions and people weren’t sure how it related to testing. Another example was binoculars – testers just couldn’t understand what they were looking at.
The third example was trying overlapping light-bulbs (the final concept used). In the overlap of the light-bulbs, there was originally an Illuminati-looking eye. With feedback, they tweaked it to be less distracting and people really understood and loved how the cover correlated with the title.
David found a lot of value from tested titles, covers, and content, but should have time-boxed it. At some point, you will get pushed to make a decision because you have been testing for so long.
Testing Business Ideas: A Field Guide for Rapid Experimentation
Your #1 job as an innovator, entrepreneur, or corporation is to test your business ideas to reduce the risk of failure.
Seven out of ten new products fail to deliver on expectations. Testing Business Ideas aims to reverse that statistic. In the tradition of the global bestseller Business Model Generation, this practical guide contains a library of hands-on techniques for rapidly testing new business ideas. You’ll learn the process, design your first experiment, and start testing business ideas. If you’re already familiar with testing, you can boost your skills with the extensive library of tests. Lastly, you’ll learn to scale testing systematically in your organization through ceremonies and shared language. It’s time to move past opinions and bulletproof your ideas with evidence today