Minimum Viable Product

Ok, so what is a MVP?

MVP stands for various things. Some people call it

  • Minimum Viable Product
  • Marketable Viable Product
  • Minimal Marketable Feature – (Which doesn’t even make sense as it’s not got the right initials)

In a nutshell, it is the smallest set of features required that provide value to the consumer / customer / product owner.

Creating an MVP mimics the most successful development process the world has ever seen – The Evolution of Species.

Evolution only does what is required to be better than than the previous competitor, the strong feature wins every time. From a single cell to the human brain; iterative development over millions of years, with the next release hopefully being better than what came before.

Saying that though evolution did come up with the Panda and the Duck-billed platypus; so it doesn’t always get it right.

Reasons for doing a MVP?

  • Get something out quickly & gain feedback – do you like this, is there any worth in carrying on? How successful would this be?
  • Potentially get money back into the process so that you can carry on, improve and gain more
  • Implementing the MVP may get you recognition by future customers

What if you don’t do it?

  • Long time until you know if you’re on the right track or not
  • A competitor may beat you to market

Right now you may be asking..

“This is all great if you’ve come up with an original idea, one the world has never seen before. But what happens if you’re attempting to create something that already exists?”

A Quick Example

If you were creating a car from scratch, it could take you years to create a working & safe car that people are willing to buy. All that time you’ve got to find a way to fund yourself and it’s future development. You may even make assumptions of what is required and you only find out that it is wrong until you release – remember Homer’s Car from The Simpsons?

the-homer-inline4

Copyright Fox Broadcasting Company.

The use of the car is a good way to explain the MVP process, as a quick Google/ Bing on MVP images will bring up the classic image of

MVP image

Taken from http://www.infoq.com/articles/lean-startup-killed

So, how do you identify the minimum requirements for a car?

The minimum I’d say is that it must be able to transport someone from A-B. That is it’s value to the end user – It doesn’t need air conditioning or cruise control as these are things that can come later.

The diagram above shows that in the first stages you don’t build a car, but a bike as this meets the minimum requirements i.e. transports you between A-B.

Moving the design on a little, we see that it evolves into a motorbike and then with a few more redesigns it is the car that we all recognize today. All the time we’re getting feedback on what our users like and importantly don’t like. Plus we don’t spend a fortune working away in isolation only for it not to be needed.

The key is to look for what makes your product usable, release those features first, then look to enhance or add additional features.

How about this – What would happen if the Government slapped a huge tax demand on all brand new uneconomical cars – just as you’re about to launch your product for the first time?

When you set off on this development you didn’t know about the tax, but this could stop the whole company! It may stop your future profit and your future success! By iterating features, improving the design, showing people what you’re working on and not doing a “big bang” release it allows you to adapt and learn. As you’ve already released many times previously you’ve hopefully got some paying customers who have helped influence the design decisions, you’ve re-invest in the product and maybe you decide that you’re not actually going to release the car based on this new change. Not to worry, as you’ve still got a previous product  you can  use, stick with that one – in our case it is the motorbike.

The key to successful product creation is lots of evolution – iteration, regular feedback and getting investment / sales back into the company so you can continue on the process.

As a planet we’ve been evolving and working on the Minimal Viable Product  for billions of years – so why wouldn’t you copy a successful model for product creation?

Don’t Build Homer’s Car  (or a Duck-Billed Platypus) – Build Value and Build It Early

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