Minimal Viable Product

By John Hunter, author of Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability.

Minimal Viable Product is an important concept. The idea is to learn from customers (users) using the product/service as soon as possible. Having customers direct experience available as soon as possible allows those designing and creating the product to learn as early as possible from those customers.

The idea with MVP is to speed up the learning process. It also puts a premium on customer focus in a very Deming-like manner.

As with many good management ideas the benefit realized using the concept or tool will depend by how it is applied in the organization. Organizations that use MVP to quickly learn from customers and adapt and repeat that process can get great results.

But if that mission to learn from customers and experiment isn’t ingrained organizations can spend lots of energy without results. This graphic does a great job of illustrating what the process should look like.

minimal viable product illustration  - skateboard, scooter, bike, motorbike, car not pieces of a car until the last step
Deliver usable products to allow learning to take place. Illustration by Henrik Kniberg.

Keeping that illustration is mind should be very helpful. Even after that is done there is a tricky judgement call that has to be made about what is suitably viable and what is not. And that requires a good understanding of the customers for the product.

As with the PDSA cycle the idea with using MVP is to learn quickly and immediately apply that learning to a new cycle of learning.

Related: The consumer is the most important point on the production-lineCustomer DelightApproaching a Minimum Viable ProductThe Process of Discovery is Iterative (webcast with George Box)

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