Start at the End Book Summary - Start at the End Book explained in key points
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Start at the End summary

Matt Wallaert

How to Build Products That Create Change

4.3 (164 ratings)
26 mins

Brief summary

Start at the End by Matt Wallaert is a guide on how to build products by starting with the desired outcome and working backwards. It provides practical advice on how to use behavioral science to create effective solutions that meet customer needs.

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    Start at the End
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    To begin the Intervention Design Process, you need to identify and validate a potential insight. 

    The process of assessing how we can modify our potential consumers’ behavior is called the Intervention Design Process, or IDP. It begins with a special type of observation called a potential insight. When you have one of these insights, you’re perceiving a gap between the world as it is (the real world) and the world as you want it to be (the ideal world). 

    To make this somewhat abstract definition more concrete, let’s dig into an example. Back in 2012, when the author was helping Microsoft develop the search engine Bing, he and his team had a potential insight: it seemed like children weren’t using search engines at school anywhere near as much as one might expect. 

    At first glance, children, schools and search engines should have been a perfect combination. After all, children are brimming with questions, schools are supposed to foster their curiosity and search engines can help them answer nearly any question they might have. In an ideal world (at least from Bing’s perspective), they would be conducting numerous online searches per day (preferably on Bing, of course). But the team suspected a gap between the real world and the ideal world; something was driving a wedge between the two. 

    Now, the keyword here is “suspected.” At this point, no one at Microsoft had any empirical evidence to support the notion in question; it was just a hunch. That’s why it was a potential insight; it hadn’t yet been confirmed as an actual insight. 

    For all anyone at Microsoft knew at the time, their hunch could have been wrong, and the gap they were perceiving could have been a figment of their imagination. In that case, it would have been a waste of time, money and energy for the company to throw resources at solving a problem that didn’t exist. That’s true of any potential insight, so it’s crucial to test your insight. 

    To do that, you need to seek out quantitative or qualitative validation of your insight. For the author and his team, that meant collecting data about children’s internet usage at school – an example of quantitative validation. It also meant going to schools and watching kids’ computer usage in person – an example of qualitative validation. 

    It turned out their hunch was correct: on average, each student was conducting less than one search per day. The gap between the ideal world and the real world was proven to exist; their insight was validated.

    If the same can be said of your insight, you can now proceed to the next step of the IDP. 

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    What is Start at the End about?

    Start at the End (2019) provides a highly practical, step-by-step approach to designing products and services that make an impact on the world. Drawing on behavioral science, the process begins with a simple question: How do we want our potential consumers to act? It then works backward to figure out how to make that vision a reality. 

    Start at the End Review

    Start at the End (2021) by Matt Wallaert is a thought-provoking book that challenges conventional thinking and provides a fresh perspective on achieving goals. Here are three reasons why this book is worth reading:

    • With its practical strategies and actionable advice, the book empowers readers to take the necessary steps to reach their desired outcomes.
    • By combining psychological insights with real-life examples, the book offers a unique approach to problem-solving and decision-making.
    • Through its engaging storytelling and relatable anecdotes, the book captures the reader's attention while imparting valuable lessons.

    Who should read Start at the End?

    • Start-up employees looking for a way to shake up their industry’s playing field 
    • Leaders of established companies looking for their next big idea 
    • Entrepreneurs interested in applying behavioral science to their pursuit of business

    About the Author

    Matt Wallaert is a behavioral scientist and entrepreneur. As the chief behavioral scientist at Microsoft and the Clover Health insurance company, he has developed his unique approach to designing products and services through hands-on, real-life experience in multiple fields of business. Start at the End (2019) is his first book. 

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    Start at the End FAQs 

    What is the main message of Start at the End?

    The main message of Start at the End is to focus on the desired outcome to make better decisions and achieve success.

    How long does it take to read Start at the End?

    The reading time for Start at the End varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Start at the End a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Start at the End is worth reading for its practical insights and actionable advice. It offers a fresh perspective on decision-making and achieving goals.

    Who is the author of Start at the End?

    The author of Start at the End is Matt Wallaert.

    What to read after Start at the End?

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