Just the other day I was at the playground watching my son riding the seesaw. In a given moment, he was riding the seesaw with another kid with the same weight, later came a heavier kid, then a lighter one and lastly, one stood up and the seesaw was tilted to one side. That made me thought about the minimum viable product – MVP.
“Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is the simpler version of a product that can be available to validate a small set of assumptions on the business.
Basically, you don’t want to waste time, money and effort building a product that won’t attend your expectations. For that reason, you need to understand and validate the hypothesis about the business. MVP helps to validate and learn the fastest way.
Different from products created using the traditional way, usually taking too much time and effort on prototyping, analysis and elaboration, the goal of MVP is only to validate the first step, the minimum product, far less elaborated than the final version. MVP focuses on the minimum but viable product to verify if the direction is correct. The initial set of functionality needed for hypothesis validation and for learning more about the business. “ from the eBook To The Point, a recipe for creating Lean products.
The seesaw and the MVP
The smaller the MVP, that is, the most minimum it is, the less product it will be.
On the other hand, the more product it is, that is, the more feature it has, the more time and effort it demands, probably, creating something beyond the minimum viable to validate something.
It’s hard to define the MVP. As in the child’s play, the seesaw will keep oscillating from one side to another. Sometimes the product goes a little further than what’s needed; another time the minimum will fall a little short of the expected product.
But this seesaw has two sides. If one is missing, the MVP won’t exist and the acronym will only have two letters.
MVP with no product
Imagine the seesaw without the product. We only do the minimum to validate something. But note that this is excellent. We are validating. This is as good as it gets. However, if there’s no product, this is not an MVP. The P from product is not there. This is an experiment. An MV, a minimum viable to validate something.
MVP with no minimum
Now imagine the seesaw when there’s no minimum. For some reason a list of requirements and features for the product is created. A list in which nothing is minimum. Several things to be built. Once again, this is not an MVP, for does not have a minimum defined. This is a VP, a viable product. Someone made a plan to build a product. And someone is not following the MVP style.
Examples of MV(no P) and (no M)VP
An example of MV is the beginning of ContaCal that Joca Torres tells about in his book “Product Management: Delight your customers with your software”. He had three ideas. He bought AdWords to verify what was most searched on Google. All that way before he had a product. An excellent example of experiment, of a minimum viable, before thinking about the P or the MVP.
What about a list of requirements that is too large?
Oh, stop. I don’t even need to give you an example of a list of product requirement without having the minimum viable well set. Unfortunately, this still happens in many companies that still hold a very traditional way of work to create and manage products. Even companies who define themselves as agile have backlogs of agile requirements without a defined MVP.
MVP in balance
But what is the minimum viable? How to line up and plan the creation of the MVP?
The sequence of activities described on the book To The Point has been very helpful to companies and teams in order to understand the MVP.
We need to start this journey to work more effectively and efficiently on creating digital products. The lean inceptions based on the To The Point are an excellent starting point.
Align, understand and create the MVP soon. Balance this seesaw. And celebrate the success of new digital products, delivered effectively and efficiently.
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