Week Three Reflection: The Customer Development Model


In Chapter 2 of Blank’s, The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win, the tone is much the same…and the struggle remains real to stay alert for Blank’s tips! While the information is certainly useful, it is delivered with no enthusiasm and leaves the reader wearied at times. However, Blank does a tremendous job of adding in fascinating narratives about startups who ultimately failed because in some way, shape, or form, they did not follow the advice (whether they were knowledgeable or not) presented in this book.
Upon delving into another chapter, I am always reminded of Jay-Z’s lyrics from the song, “Guns and Roses.” Jay-Z, Hove, Hova, Sean Carter, or whatever you want to call him clearly states, “You can get a return on investment if you just pay attention!” Seriously, did you get that play on words? Well, that’s exactly what Blank does in each chapter…if and only if the reader can stay woke to comprehend his command, he/she will be enlightened as to how to begin the customer development process and any other business process known to man!

Once individuals have identified their profitable problem to be “real,” the goal of customer discovery is finding out who the customers for your products are and whether the problem you are solving is important to them. Blank asserts that many startups fail because they simply burn through their cash with staff that should not have been hired. Early in the game, he asserts that a minimal number of employees are necessary and that will allow the company to conserve their capital.

Most importantly, Blank maintains that customer discovery entails getting outside the building to learn and discover your users and customers, learn what customers problems are and what it is about your product that solves their problems. Furthermore, the objective of this stage is to build a repeatable sales road map for the sales and marketing team to follow later down the road when it does become necessitous to make those changes.
Blank upholds that product development and customer development are parallel processes. “While the customer development group is engaged in customer-centric activities outside the building, the product development group is focused on product-centric activities that are taking place internally.”

Blank, S. G. (2006). Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win (3rd ed.). Cafepress.com.

7 thoughts on “Customer Development Model

  1. Harmony Chavis says:

    TK< I am getting maybe even more annoyed by this author than you are. Kudos for pressing forward, I am sure that there are some valuable lessons to learn,,,even if it is learning to push through the things you don't want to do because it matters to your end game (i.e doing well in this program.)

    You stated that Blank told the reader stories of start up failures because they didn't follow the advice in his book. While I don't doubt he has presented very valuable and realistic advice, I have an issue with that statement and the kind of person he's presenting himself to be to the reader. The best advice you can give someone, and the best road map may not be the best for them…I wonder how many businesses SUCCEEDED because they didn't follow everything he said to a T and dared to be innovative (ironically enough) in the way they approached a problem or built a business. This is mentioned, for obvious reasons…it goes against the narrative and maybe from his perspective challenges his credibility. The people I tend to trust most are those that are weary of ever giving their opinion or advice as fact. The people I tend to listen to most, are the ones who don't act as if they 100% have it figured out all the time, they acknowledge when their plans or advice has failed in the past, and they WANT you to challenge their credibility and teach them newer/better/more efficient ways of doing things. The reason I tend to trust people like that more is because at the end of the day no matter how smart we are, or how important we think we are…in the grand scheme of things we are minuscule, and we know next to nothing.

    I hope my rant wasn't too much,
    Best, Harmony

    • Out of all the assignments in this course, this was my least favorite! While I enjoyed working on my blog, I certainly did not particularly enjoy this read! Blank is like a staunch professor in many ways in this book (at one point I wondered why it was in the Innovation catalogue). However, this is business…and with that being said, I did exactly what you said and had to simply continue to press forward. This book reminded me of talking with a professional with tons of experience, but no “real” social connections to the individuals he/she encounters. No doubt, Blank’s knowledge is immeasurable; it’s merely one of those instances though where you have to, “take the meat and leave the bones.” As you mentioned prior, this is a skeletal framework…it may or may not work for every business, but, it will give you tremendous insight into the issues that enterprises tend to get wrong from the start. And, hopefully this will enlighten those who read it, effectively giving their future ventures a head start.

      On another note, I completely agree with you. I think that you can learn something from everyone you meet, but those who haven’t figured everything out tend to have the most inspiring messages to transmit.

      Love and light,

  2. Bolanle Akinyemi says:

    Getting to know your customer is the only way to know what they want and how to satisfy them, this technique was used by google when they are developing gmail, They had just few features present in the app when they launched, then they ask users for what they will like them to improve on, the summary of this is the gmail functions of today. Every entrepreneur needs to find a connective link to his/her customers. Nice post!
    Bolale Akinyemi

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