Blank began by describing how the product development process used by most entrepreneurs is ill-conceived. Instead of continually reassessing their product designs in light of customer feedback, companies tend to follow a linear development path that takes them through four main stages: 1 conceptualization, 2 product development, 3 beta testing, and 4 launching.
Ries argued that this strategy only makes sense when both the problem and the solution to that problem are fully understood. Most startups, however, cannot readily conceive a good solution to the problem they’ve identified. And many others don’t even have a clear idea of the problem they are trying to solve. Particularly in the latter case, startups must continually reevaluate both the problem and the solution by consulting their potential customers and developing a thorough understanding of those customers’ needs and behaviors. And this reevaluation leads to lots of product iteration that turns the development process into more of an ongoing cycle.