MVP... what do you see?

This week I’m inspired by my Coca-Cola can. “MVP” …what do you see?

With the start of football last week, I know Coke was going for a football reference but I saw something different.

In my world, “MVP” isn’t the acronym for most valuable player. It stands for “minimum viable product.”

Stay with me for a minute — it’s not as lame as it sounds, and what’s really cool is after reading this you can waltz into your nearest IT department and strike up a conversation with the best of ’em. #yourewelcome

Minimum viable product was born in software development.

Launching a product [thing] that’s minimally viable [getting stuff done, enough] is what MVP is all about. It’s the alternative to absolute perfectionism.

You know, perfectionism: idea > meeting > approved > start working > new idea > stop working > okay go ahead > go ahead > go ahead > leadership shares with the world > present the deck to leadership > “we didn’t agree to this!” > not approved > scrap the whole thing > politic > politic > shareholders want it > go ahead > launch it > well, not today it’s Friday > launch it now > the colors are wrong > relaunch it > yay, we did it > oh, our competitor did this 2 months ago

LOL (more like SMH).

MVP was once explained to me like this: A customer asks for a car. Imagine we have never made a car before in our lives. What is the customer really asking for? They want something to get them from point A to point B. We could go the perfectionist route: undertake this massive project that may or may not work at the end (oh, and spend hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars), or we could launch a minimum viable product.

We give the customer a skateboard. It’s pretty wobbly and requires a lot of effort, they’re not very happy. Okay. Not a ton of time, money, effort wasted there. Let’s add a handle to that skateboard! We’ll call it a scooter. A bit less wobbly but still pretty slow.

We can do better. We iterate. A bicycle. A motorcycle. Finally, we make it to the car. And who knows, perhaps at the motorcycle launch the customer is satisfied. What’s amazing about this approach is that we’re putting “stuff” out into the world and seeing what happens. This allows us to respond, or not. We learn and grow much quicker this way.

Personally, I left the software world a few years ago but I still use the concept of MVP in my work and life. I challenge you to do the same.

Want help? Or curious why I took this photo at an ice rink? Reach out to me and let’s talk. What could MVP look like in your life?

Parallel listen: “Little Bit of Everything” Keith Urban

What do you think? I’m grateful to read your opinions.

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