Funny coincidence: I was just talking to Rob Adams downstairs in the hotel I’m in, on the eve of this year’s Moot Corp. Then I come upstairs to check my blog reader and I find Are You About to Launch a Failed Product? on BNET, one of my favorite business information sites. Book CoverAnd it turns out to be an interview with Rob about his new book, If You Build it Will They Come?

Rob now runs the Moot Corp event and a lot of other things at the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business. He’s got all the academic credentials anybody could ask for, including a Ph.D. More important, he’s been there. I first met him more than 25 years ago when he was one of the prime movers of Lotus Development Corp., back when Lotus Development was the most successful company in personal computer software. He’s been around the real world a lot.

The title of the BNET post, about launching failed products, caught my eye because it’s so important–but also so hard–to figure out when to analyze more and when to jump. It’s caused me grief for a very long time and, believe me, I’ve guessed wrong more times than I care to admit.

But how do you know? I write a lot about forecasting and planning, all of which is a matter of breaking uncertainty down into bite-size pieces. Rob’s book focuses on a different angle, more like a reality check than a forecast. Three steps to validate any market opportunity.

What he’s talking about is very practical, not at all academic. For example, he recommends stopping the product process, even for just a few days, to really validate the market. And, my personal favorite, find a few people who would be prospective customers and ask them some good questions. And listen to the answers . . . asking leading questions and finding people to validate your guesses isn’t the point.

Are you looking to create or launch a new product? One of the best things you can do, in that case, is to stop a bit and validate the market. And one of the best spends available, to real people in real business, is a book that helps you do it.

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.