Stop Thinking About Minimum Viable Products
Though lean and agile methodologies are widely adopted as the main approach to product development, they remain yet too challenging specially for big companies. When Eric Ries put together the world-renowned build, measure and learn model, by which product managers shorten the production cycles focussing on functionality rather than on completeness of vision, anyone could tell how difficult would be for a big company to risk brand exposure and live up to this dogma.
By using lean or agile methodologies, a business or product is built and launched to the market quickly, avoiding the expenditure in unnecessary resources and leveraging the gathering of customer feedback to influence the next build phase. This approach, however, may be quite unfeasible for a big firm willing to develop a new line of business. Enterprise products tend to be composed by multiple layers of communication and decision-making. Furthermore, bureaucracy, added to the amount of stakeholders involved in the decision process, converts the minimum viable product into something simply impossible to build ensuring a reasonable time to market.
What is totally misleading on this matter, however, is the fact that lean methodologies are not meant to be building something, but to making you learn something. Hence, big organisations should focus on building minimum viable experiments (MVE) and not minimum viable products (MVP). In other words, the ultimate goal should be to learn, not to grow.
By focussing on MVE’s, a big organisation can benefit from all the advantages of an MVP, whilst getting rid of its main drawbacks: the brand exposure is limited to a small set of customers and the corporate quality standards can be smoothen, for example. But there’s a better reason to choose MVE’s over MVP’s – ultimately, they are simpler. At the end of the day, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”.