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Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy [Kindle Edition]

Cindy Alvarez
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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  • Print ISBN-10: 1449356354
  • Print ISBN-13: 978-1449356354
  • Edition: 1
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Book Description

How do you develop products that people will actually use and buy? This practical guide shows you how to validate product and company ideas through customer development research—before you waste months and millions on a product or service that no one needs or wants.

With a combination of open-ended interviewing and fast and flexible research techniques, you’ll learn how your prospective customers behave, the problems they need to solve, and what frustrates and delights them. These insights may shake your assumptions, but they’ll help you reach the "ah-ha!" moments that inspire truly great products.

  • Validate or invalidate your hypothesis by talking to the right people
  • Learn how to conduct successful customer interviews play-by-play
  • Detect a customer’s behaviors, pain points, and constraints
  • Turn interview insights into Minimum Viable Products to validate what customers will use and buy
  • Adapt customer development strategies for large companies, conservative industries, and existing products

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Cindy Alvarez is a product manager who turns understanding the customer into competitive advantage. Currently the Director of User Experience and Product Design for Yammer (a Microsoft company), she has worked with early- and mid-stage startups as well as Fortune 500 companies to make customer development an ingrained part of company culture and product development process.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1322 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (May 19, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00KECAM98
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,138 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Full disclosure, I have Lean Analytics and UX for Lean Start-ups. I love those 2 books. My analytics side wished there was a title to help with one of the biggest challenges, defining the customer. Low and Behold, Lean Customer Development comes out.
I have already read the book in the first 10 days and am now starting to read it again. Making notes, and planning my projects.
If you are looking for, probably one of the best titles on defining your customer, and step-by-step methods to do it, pick up this book.
- The author talks about interviewing, how to do it, some questions to get you started and walks you through it.
- The descriptions offer you a way to tell if what you are planning to do really does make sense. If it does, great, if it doesn't, what you can do to address this and really find you niche.
- Now this isn't really a con, but be prepared to learn. This book has a great deal of depth and breadth. I would suggest reading it once, then going back with a notebook to really plan your project with it.

I have founded companies and helped others do the same. If I had this book years ago, it would have saved huge amount of time on 2 businesses that investors thought was a good ideas, but we figured out there were some key issues that, if we identified them earlier, would have saved us a lot of time and $$$.

I would recommend this book to:
1. Anyone starting a business
2. A person in a large company planning a new product or service
3. A person that has a business that is 0-16 months along and wants to see how they might be able to do more-better-faster
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lean Mean Customer Development Machine July 20, 2014
Originally Posted At

Give Me The Basics? - Customer Development Is All About Testing That Hypotheses.
Lean Customer Development by Cindy Alvarez is one of the latest releases from the O'Reilly Lean book series with each release focusing on a different element of the Lean Startup Model. The earlier books have included titles such as Lean Analytics and UX for Lean Startups, and this books focuses on how you can integrate customer development into the product life-cycle. The idea of customer development as described by the Lean Startup model is that a startup business concept is just a series of untested hypotheses, and that the Customer Development process is way of testing and validating each of those hypotheses to discover the correct model.

What Do You Like? - Providing A Complete Guide.
No matter if you work for are a startup company or established organisation this book has chapters devoted to enterprise size companies. The book has case studies throughout and includes practical advice. To help reinforce the knowledge the author has included takeaways with the key points from the chapter. The book impressed me as it provides a complete guide to the process from the start of a customer development project right through to the end.

Give Me The Low-down On One Concept From The Book? - It's All Problem Solving.
I am a true believer of the context driven testing model and the fact that "The product is a solution. If the problem isn't solved, the product doesn't work." A similar concept runs throughout the book about finding the true problems the customer is facing and how customer development can help you find that.

Give Me One Quote From The Book?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Productive customer interactions August 24, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
To me this book is a how-to on learning marketing lessons on the cheap. In other words, it breaks down the process one would go through to tailer their business offerings into something customers actually will buy. The idea is to get to that point through minimal time, money, and friction.

This method of tailoring one's offerings changes the way we think. Instead of trying to persuade a customer, we are instructed to think of our interaction with the customer as an experiment. Everything we do to connect with the customer is meant to be a learning experience.

I believe this book is helpful because it gives the reader a purpose to every customer interaction. This is a way to think and it is a process of questioning and probing for solutions.

Also by the author: Pragmatic Marketer Winter 2013
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you have read any of the Lean series books, as I have the language in this book is going to seem familiar.
***Solving a problem the customer has
***Hypothesis testing
***Getting out of the building
However this book as the other two I have read; Lean UX for Startups, Lean UX, has a unique take that the title indicates. It is all about developing products that a customer needs or wants. The prior two books I read were specifically usability-based and took a different bead on what was being tested.

This book suggests more customer directed interviews where the interviewee tells you about a problem they have, or how they do a specific process. From this the conclusions are made as to what a MVP (minimally viable product) is made. Testing this product to validate this hypothesis and to potentially get an NPS (net promoter score) to compare variations.
It talks about dealing with current customers as well.

Unique for this book is that there is many suggested scripts to follow to assist in interviews. There are many examples provided of various use cases and how this type of involvement continues on even after the product is created.

Overall I think this is a worthwhile read, for someone that wants to do Customer interviews for new product development. Is it somewhat repetitive of the lean series books? Yes, but, it covers a unique area and can be a stand-alone book so the repetition is warranted.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't go into business without this book!
Probably the most important book yet in the "Lean" series. If you ain't got the customers, you ain't got a business. Very very valuable sections on how to get started. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Edward H. Carleton
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read
An invaluable, concise, and on point read whether you're a startup or innovating within a larger structure. Read more
Published 2 months ago by GODanSmith
5.0 out of 5 stars getting feedback from customers is not easy
Very good compaion with Startup Owners manual. You will find both what to learn and how to learn from customers.
Published 3 months ago by Murat
4.0 out of 5 stars Helps if you have read more foundational books in the Lean series.
This is a great book in the LEAN series. If you are familiar with LEAN product development, etc. then this book and its terminology will be familiar to you and I think you'll get a... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jonathan
5.0 out of 5 stars Know thy Customer...and Forget about Yourself!
If you are launching, running, or attempting to turnaround a business, the first thing you need to do is read this book (and Ash Maurya's, Running Lean). Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy read. Brims with practical suggestions that you can "get out the...
The appendix alone is with the price.

I would complement this book with:
"The Question Book" - Mikael Krigerus and Roman Tschappeler - exploring how to... Read more
Published 4 months ago by MSK
4.0 out of 5 stars Super granular, very detailed playbook on the Lean customer...
This is a very granular, very specific guidebook on the application of scientific principles to the process of 'Lean' customer development - a system where businesses reduce risk... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Sibelius
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential information for those developing new producta
Cindy Alvarez gives a lot of down-to-earth advice as to finding potential customers and discovering their needs and what they will buy. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Neal Reynolds
4.0 out of 5 stars Great information (some a bit obvious, and a bit repetitive)
Great information about developing your products based on what customers will buy - not because it's what they say they'll buy, or because they say they need a feature or widget... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Kelly Sottelbaum
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best voice of the customer books out there
As a long term practitioner of Lean, well, I'm not sure what's Lean about it other than it fits into the ecosystem of the Lean startup books, and from that perspective, it makes... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jason Stokes
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More About the Author

Cindy Alvarez is the author of Lean Customer Development: How to Build Products Your Customers Will Buy.

Cindy has been using customer development techniques for well over a decade, across a variety of roles and organization sizes. She hates that alleged Henry Ford quote "If I'd asked customers what they wanted, they would've said 'a faster horse'."

After seeing many organizations struggle, she wrote _Lean Customer Development_ as practical, hands-on guide to effectively talk to customers. Through the tactics in the book, organizations will learn how to rigorously validate their ideas, differentiate customer 'wants' from 'needs', and build constant learning into their product development culture.

Cindy earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from Harvard University, where she gained equally valuable insights working as a computer support tech. After college she moved to San Francisco, where she has worked in interaction design, customer research, and product management for both startups and Fortune 500 companies. In her current role she runs user experience and product design for Yammer (a Microsoft company) and evangelizes lean tactics throughout the company as part of Microsoft's UX Leadership Team.

She writes a blog on user experience, product management, startups, and managing at: t

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