Wave 3

Failing Well : Avoiding Vanity Validation in your Lean Startup

After attending 3-4 Lean Startup Machine events and working with internal teams to understand and apply the Customer Development framework, I’ve begun to notice a pattern...


There is a trap hidden inside CustDev. The same passion and positive psychology required to succeed in the face of uncertainty is hindering practioners from learning fast enough to survive.


How can we take our passion, our vision, a couple “wild ass guesses”, and produce meaningful, validated learning?


Stand back... we are going to try science.


The question of how to learn as an organization and how to DEMONSTRATE learning has been explored by philosophers of science and by business theorists for years. What can the Lean Startup Community learn about creating scientifically valid experiments that create actionable knowledge?


This session will explore the theoretical relationships between scientific hypotheses and scientific experiments. We will explore the theory behind using effective questions to invalidate assumptions and following through with the learning process after an error in the hypothesis is detected. We’ll learn how to detect hypothesis and questions that can’t be falsified and therefore only lead to vanity validation not learning.


We’ll learn how to fail well and fail faster by keeping our passion focused on the vision and our dispassionate logic focused on the assumptions.


Session Leader(s) Background


Joshua (Jabe) Bloom, Chief Technology Officer, The Library Corporation is an award-winning international speaker on Lean Product development (LESS 2011), an active member of the Kanban and Lean Startup community, a CPO/CSM and a collaborator with many exploring how to make work more rewarding for everyone involved.


As a creative technologist who specializes in managing innovation, Jabe has been leading teams and companies, developing software and products, for nearly 20 years. He is interested in strange problems.


As an unrepentant philosophy major, when he has the time, Jabe writes about Lean, Agile and Complexity theory using big words. He can be found on twitter @cyetain


Session History (optional)

The information in this course has been discussed extensively within The Library Corporation, but I have never publicly presented it.


Questions Answered


How to design experiments that effectively invalidate assumptions.


Avoiding vanity validation.


Understanding different types of questions both open and closed.


What is the difference between deduction, induction and abduction? Why does it matter?


What is Single and Double Loop learning. How does Model 1 and Model 2 behavior impact a startup’s ability to be a Learning Organization


Why facts are dangerous, but continually verified tests are invaluable


Popper, Agryris and Validated Learning: Philosophy of Science, Actionable Knowledge, Vanity Validation and Customer Development



Session Basics


Session Leader Name: Jabe Bloom

Duration (60, 90)

Audience Level — Experienced - Expert : The Class will explore how theory can inform the practice of specific Lean Startup concepts. Due to the amount of material, novice level experience with Lean Startup terminology will be assumed (we won’t be starting from what is Lean Startup and what is a Pivot).

Session Style — Presentation


Session Leader Name(s) : Jabe Bloom

Proposed Duration : between 60 and 90 minutes


14 votes
Idea No. 72