Why Does A Realistic Customer Development Process Have 7 Stages?

( or How Does the Customer Development Process Flow Look in Reality? ie in a TimeLine)

Most people tell me that Customer Development is really simple. They look at the Customer Development Model Diagram Customer Development Model Diagram and skim read the Customer Development Manifesto. Simple, they got it.

In practice I find that no one gets it the first time. Everyone believes that they will not have any pivots. They all expect to move linearly through it like a “Stage-Gate-Process”. They believe the process is “Customer Discovery” then “Customer Validation” then “Customer Creation” and finally “Company Building”. That is four stages. CD -> CV -> CC -> CB. The whole point of the manifesto is that this never happens in the real world. In Steve Blank “speak” No Plan Survives First Contact With Customers – Business Plans versus Business Models « Steve Blank, expect to fail a few times. That is the process.

A realistic expectation of the “Customer Development Process” is that there will be 7 Stages. That is a startup will fail at Customer Discovery and Validation at least once and maybe two times. Thus a “Realistic Path” would be CD -> CD -> CV -> CD -> CV -> CC -> CB.

More on number of Pivots to expect from StartupGenome

The StartupGenome guys have some good reading on “Premature Scaling”.

Steve Blank’s Customer Development Manifesto

Addition – Sept 7 2012

“Realistic Path”  { CD -> CD -> CV -> CD -> CV -> CC -> CB } looks like this.

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