One of the most popular books in the business community over the last few years is The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. I’m sure many of you read it, or have it on your to-read list, but I wanted to highlight one particular idea in the book.
We digest product so quickly today, so we must get viable products to market fast and effectively. This birthed the Minimum Viable Product.
I bring this up not to convince you this is the way to go, but to address some ideas put forth by a couple of writers at Pando Daily. Now, I won’t assume their motivations for this piece, I would just like to offer feedback.
The article begins by stating two perfect examples of a lean MVP. I can’t decide if this is a good idea or not, but they are trying to educate readers on the concept and set the stage for their rebuttal. Of course, the examples of companies picking a few small features or one big idea and shipping it fast are vast. In fact, I would argue that many of the great products in recent history are built solely on this idea.
The argument the writers make are certainly valid. Large corporations spent billions on R&D every year, so it stands to reason that wasting some resources are okay for the right industry or product. I would say any drug I put in my body should be thoroughly tested. A minimum viable product is not necessarily referring to pharmaceuticals, though.
Also, the idea of “failing fast” (which is sort of overused at this point) is taken a bit out of context. When building a product, you don’t want to fail for failure’s sake. You fail with a purpose. You fail because it is impossible to build exactly what the market wants every time. Put something in customer’s hands and learn what you can do to innovate.
Which brings me to my last point. Sustained innovation is yet another buzzword gaining steam, because why wouldn’t companies want to build momentum of a steady stream of ideas! True innovation that is sustained is more about the culture a company creates for it’s employees to continuously make something better. Isn’t that the point of “failing fast”?
I think the concepts laid out by Ries are about making smaller, more calculated decisions on what to build and then get it there in a lightweight manner. You foster faster iterations, building stuff that matters, and a culture of steady improvement of process and product.
I can’t think of a better argument for a minimum viable product.