After a number of years working in the tech space with some great people, I began to have a love/hate relationship with the concept of an MVP (Minimum Viable Product).
According to Techopedia, the definition of MVP is “a development technique in which a new product or website is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters. The final, complete set of features is only designed and developed after considering feedback from the product’s initial users”.
Reasons to love the MPV
So why do I love it? Firstly, everything about an MVP kicks the ass of ‘Presentation Procrastination’ or to put it another way ‘Strategic Constipation’ – Too many great brains dancing around a presentation and simply not getting anywhere.
It’s as if the product WAS the presentation and nobody knew how to actually make it happen.
I remember working with the hugely inspirational Marko Ahtisaari (@moia) a few years ago and after some great chats about a new idea we had, he just stopped me in mid-sentence and said ”Enough. I’ve heard enough. Let’s just do it – let’s create an MVP and we will learn along the way”.
OMG! This was a revelation. Particularly for someone like myself who had grown up believing something needed to be crafted to perfection before it could be released.
Could we really release something -flaws-and-all – into the big wide world?!
Minimum Viable Proof?
Of course, the MVP also has a much greater role: It’s the prototype to prove a market need; to prove the technology can work, and to prove that there is potential money to be made. MVP isn’t just Minimum Viable Product, it’s Minimum Viable Proof!
MVP’s are great as the antidote to procrastination, the proof of concept, or the ability to learn in the real world. They should be encouraged at all cost!
Or should they?
The pitfalls of the MVP
For me the worst MVP is actually MLP (Minimum Lazy Product). It’s saying ”let’s just get it out there, we can make it better later”.
This is a very dangerous game to play with consumer patience, for as much as you think they will forgive, you may actually be wasting their time. Fail once and you may be forgiven, fail twice and they’ll walk away in a heartbeat.
Say ‘hello’ to GTBR
An MVP quickly needs to move to GTBR, a Get-The-Basics-Right product.
All too often I have seen developers get bored with the basics in their quest for innovation.
MVP1 is replaced by MVP2, as MVP1 gets forgotten about in the pursuit of the new and sexy.
I remember talking to one of my clients a few years ago and I said ”It feels like you’re trying to build an extension before you’ve even finished the roof on the house – and there’s rain coming in”.
MVP is great, just make sure your house stays dry!