A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is defined on Wikipedia as follows: “In product development, the minimum viable product is the product with the highest return on investment versus risk. It is the sweet spot between products without the required features that fail immediately when shipped and the products with too many features that cut return and increase risk. The term was coined and defined by Frank Robinson,and popularised by Steve Blank, and Eric Ries] It may also involve carrying out market analysis beforehand.” In short, it is a (often first) product with all fundamental features, from which to elaborate, and which can grow into a full product.
Yes, developing a MVP is not the same as developing a sequence of elements which eventually combine into a product. A wheel does not excite or interest a user wanting a personal transporter like a car, as illustrated by the first line.
Instead, developing a MVP is about developing the vision. This is not the same as developing a sequence of intermediate visions, especially not, of these are valuable products in itself. I am not sure a skateboard will excite or interest a user wanting a personal transporter like a car, as illustrated by the second line. Basically, if you develop a skateboard as MVP, and test it with customers, you would be overwhelmed about the response, trash original vision (or at least stall it) and become skateboard-king.
So, in my opinion, developing a MVP means developing a sequence of prototypes through which you explore what is key for your product idea and what can be omitted. This means that if you are planning to develop a personal transporter like a car, the very first item you develop will be a personal transporter like a car, but stripped down to what you think at the time of developing the prototype is the bare minimum. Testing and sounding may result into a new prototype etc until you have your product which you feel is minimally viable.
Nowhere in developing a personal transporter like a car, you end up developing a full motorcycle, and I seriously doubt that the starting point will be a skate-board or a children’s scooter. In my vision, a MVP is as shown below. What do you think?
I asked the same question, ‘what do you think’ to my friend Tom, and he answered simply; ‘well, that depends on whether you look at the UX or not’. This resulted in a bit of discussion, and the outcome basically was that if you are developing an end-user product, then the user experience should be key from the start and any technical considerations not directly related to the user experience can be – for now – ignored. To illustrate that important point, I changed the first image of the last row and replaced it by a situation where there is not yet an engine, and instead, people are pushing the care. Basically, applying the Wizard of Oz methodology to car design.
So, what do you think?
OK. Been there, done that, got the T-Shirt.