I had the interesting experience this weekend to attend the "Lean Startup Machine" weekend at the Microsoft NERD. It was kind of a hackathon for Lean Startups, which are startups that practice something refererred to as Customer Development, or CustDev. If you've not heard about it, here's a 40 minute lecture about CustDev by one of the top gurus, Eric Ries. Another reference would be essentially the founding document:, "The Four Steps to the Epiphany"?
The high level story is this: we have well defined and articulated methodologies for managing the creation of software: Agile, Extreme Programming, etc. But on the other hand, there are no equivalent 'scientific' methodologies for defining products and understanding market.
Another pithy statement: Startups fail, not because they fail to create the product that they envisioned, but, because customers don't want the product that got built.
As I digest what I learned, I will be posting more, as well as links to a bunch of interesting tools we learned about.