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Sod the MVP, it’s all about MVF’s


What’s your Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?

I hate this question. Why?

  • An MVP is supposed to be all about learning. It’s rarely used in this context… It’s usually used to describe when the product will be ready to sell.
  • It’s also impossible to answer; it implies that the features your customers need are clear from the off. And that’s complete rubbish: you probably have a strong understanding of what they are trying to achieve, but to say you know the best way up front is misinformed at best.
  • Businesses like to define the “Viable” and therefore force development to define the “Minimum” ie reduce the scope/ quality of features, detached from the end user.

Just me who finds this term problematic? Not really, see the rise of other terms such as Minimum Marketable Product (MMP), Minimum Loveable Product (MLP) etc etc. Also the amount of wasted time, going round in circles, talking and never resolving what the MVP will be.

But you have got to know what the product will be right?

Nope. You have to have a clear strategic direction, a clear problem/ set of problems that you are solving. You have to know what you are building in the near future. Commit to features further ahead and you stifle innovation and learning. You will hurt your adaptability, your agility and your ability to innovate.

Forget the MVP, focus on MVFs

How do you become an expert? You focus, you commit and you constantly learn over time. There isn’t a single moment when you are suddenly the expert, it’s all about the small steps you take. You consistently improve over time and never stop learning, or else risk losing your expert status.

The same is true for products. We focus on the immediate future, and ensure that we build and deploy Minimum Viable Features asap (using the skimming technique discussed in another blog post). Then we learn. We listen, we debate, we prod our users and seek to understand if this helps to achieve their outcomes. More needed to achieve satisfaction? Let’s do it. This is the best thing since sliced bread? Nailed it; next feature please!