A “Lean Startup” Approach to an Audiobook for “Lean Hospitals?”

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I've been asked many times over the past few years, mainly by physicians and other healthcare professionals, about an audiobook version of my book, Lean Hospitals: Improving Quality, Patient Safety, and Employee Engagement.

My publisher has given me permission and the rights to potentially do an audio book for the upcoming 2nd revised edition. Now, I need to figure out if this makes business sense. Please help me figure out how I should apply Lean thinking and “Lean Startup” principles in the course of this project. Or I should say, “potential project.

I am researching different production and cost options. But more importantly, I need to understand demand and customer needs. How many people are even going to be willing to read the book? Clearly, I *can* create this product…. but *should* I create? That's the classic “lean startup” question, should I build it? There's more “market risk” than “technical risk” with a project like this.

So what steps can I take?

Contact me here if you want to express interest in the potential audio book. I can use this list to keep them updated on experiments I do along the way and market to that list.

I could buy targeted Google AdWords ads for terms like “lean hospital” or “lean healthcare” or “lean hospital audiobook” (a term that admittedly probably doesn't get THAT much traffic). The ads would take people to my email list sign up page. I can measure the number of ad clicks and the number of registrations for the email list.

I can use my blog and my existing  Lean Hospitals email list to get feedback from those who had downloaded the    first chapter of the book, for free, in PDF form.

I can do surveys to ask about price points – how much are people willing to pay for an audio book?

I can produce a prototype audio book of just the first chapter. I can give this away (in exchange for an email address to use for future marketing) or sell it as a standalone file for a low price. This chapter might serve as the “minimum viable product,” of sorts. If nobody (or a relatively small number of people) downloads a free chapter, I can decide to scrap the idea of trying to sell a full audio book before investing too much time into it.

From my reading of the Lean Startup literature, that seems to be one key — to learn early, learn often, learn quickly, especially in the case where you can decide that a project is not worth the time. It's better to decide that earlier than later.

I can survey potential buyers about price points, preference in having it read by the author or by a professional, etc.

If I decide to go forward, I could ask people to help finance the project by pre-ordering a copy of the audio book, giving them a discount or special offers for doing so.

Other thoughts or recommendations?


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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

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