The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

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What Is 'Field Testing'?

Field Testing means creating, using and iterating your offering before offering it to customers. Field Testing is a critical step in the Iteration Cycle, helping you find flaws in your offering.

The purpose of Field Testing is to minimize risk, by making sure that the offering works before trying to sell it.

Josh Kaufman Explains 'Field Testing'

A hundred and fifty days a year, Patrick Smith lives in the Colorado wilderness, just as he has for the past fifty years. Smith is the founder of the Colorado School of Outdoor Living and two successful hunting/backpacking companies: Mountainsmith (which he sold in 1995) and Kifaru International, which he created in 1997.

Becoming a Kifaru customer is a quick way to overheat your credit card. Kifaru makes arguably the best hiking and hunting packs and shelters in the world-extremely rugged, lightweight, and well-designed. Kifaru packs can carry two hundred pounds comfortably, will last for decades, and sell for hundreds of dollars.

It's not uncommon for avid sportsmen and soldiers to shell out thousands of dollars for custom-made Kifaru gear, then wait eagerly for 6-8 weeks while the company makes it. Try as you might, it's extremely difficult to find a Kifaru customer who's disappointed in the quality of their gear. More often than not, a new Kifaru customer is a customer for life.

The secret behind Kifaru's quality is Field Testing. Smith personally creates, uses, and Iterates every single product Kifaru makes for years before offering it to customers. By the time the finished product is available, even the most demanding customers have a difficult time finding flaws.

Here's what Smith says about his personal approach to field testing:

"The backcountry is definitely both my inspiration and my laboratory. I've figured out how to create designs out there in the field. I trust this technique. I get instant feedback about designs because I'm in the backcountry doing the things the design is for, and testing it right then, in the real world arena it's intended for... I really do think this is a better design process than sitting in front of a computer in an office in town. I think it's a win/win situation."

Field Testing has a long and distinguished history in the creation of successful businesses. In 1923, W.H. Murphy of the Protective Garment Corporation of New York had an associate shoot him in the chest from ten feet away in front of a public audience to prove his product worked-a marketing stunt based on extensive Field Testing to verify the vest was capable of stopping live rounds.

Miguel Caballero, a Columbian suit manufacturer who has created bulletproof suits for heads of state like Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez, has continued the tradition by posting videos of people wearing his suits being shot point-blank in the stomach on YouTube.

Most major automotive manufacturers put new car designs through on- and off-road obstacle courses to test performance and handling in real-world conditions. Software companies like Microsoft and Google extensively Field Test their new products internally with employees before releasing them to customers. Testing internally allows the company to eliminate any bugs before customers ever see the product.

Using what you make every day is the best way to improve the quality of what you're offering. Nothing will help you find ways to make your offer better than being its most avid and demanding customer.

Questions About 'Field Testing'


"Any engineer that doesn't need to wash his hands at least three times a day is a failure."

Shoichiro Toyoda, former chairman of the Toyota Motor Corporation


From Chapter 1:

Value Creation


https://personalmba.com/field-testing/



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The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

Buy the book:


About Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is an acclaimed business, learning, and skill acquisition expert. He is the author of two international bestsellers: The Personal MBA and The First 20 Hours. Josh's research and writing have helped millions of people worldwide learn the fundamentals of modern business.

More about Josh Kaufman →