The Minimum Viable Product

I can’t count how many times I’ve said or heard, “You know what would be awesome?  If our product did this, this, and that!?”  As a developer and entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up in the bleeding edge features for your products, especially if those features present technical challenges.

It’s also easy to assume that “more is better” because of our inherent human behaviors.  This oftentimes leads to dizzyingly heavy products with obscure value propositions.

Next time you find yourself talking about features, think about the following counter examples:

Steve Blank.  Well known author and cultivator of ideas such as Lean Startup, and Customer Development, provides a very needed explanation of the minimum viable product here….  something any entrepreneur and/or product manager should read and understand.

Steve Jobs.  Well, no need to explain.  But you can see the minimalism everywhere (what?  still no buttons?).

37 Signals. Thought leaders in the space of minimum feature set, creators of the development framework Ruby on Rails, and authors of the new book Rework which encourages lean, fast, out the door decision making with minimum feature set releases and multitudes of customer feedback.

None of these people should keep you from dreaming up the next hottest feature or high-fiveing a great 2am coding sess, just be cognizant of the overall impact before adding all of these into the next release cycle.




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2 responses to “The Minimum Viable Product

  1. Great post Chad – not to mention the importance of this concept in preserving cash flow and beating competitors to market…

  2. Brian Glynn

    The question I like to pose to myself, is not what the immediate cost is (how ever you choose to define cost), but how much will it add to the overall maintenance of the project. What is this going to be and what will it cost me in 5 years forces the longer vision. Keep in mind, it’s always harder to remove a feature down the road.

    Of course, being product manager and developer means, you’re going to make mistakes. It is just too easy sometimes 🙂

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