“We need an MVP in 6 months!” declares the fresh-faced entrepreneur. “Let’s just build something fast, whatever it is, product person, bootstrap the business and get it going really quickly!” … Indeed, an MVP or minimum viable product – something that allows you to get the product out there, launch the tech, market the product and raise the next round, is often seen as the holy grail from non-Silicon Valley types, practically a magical technology fashion statement. And do it fast! Like in 6 months, let’s just half bake a something deliberately basic, like a pre-beta, to give a little teaser to the investors, staff and CEOs dreaming up “It’s no problem if it’s not perfect” they’ll say – you can always fix it post launch and worry about any issues at a later date ….
People asking for an “MVP” is one of my pet hates. This is very much 10 years ago in the tech industry but I am still seeing this … What people are really saying is “Let’s cut corners” (my favorite: this is agile! not waterfall!) yes, let’s put a v0.1 product out there, likely to be riddled with bugs and much worse, put a badly thought product out to market and then what … pray? A lot of founders are big dreamers, and while I am not into condescending their naiveté, the desire for a “quick and dirty” fix that gets the product on the way as a quicker route to revenue has been proven to cause much bigger problems for the business in the long term. Relying on an MVP at stage one often ignores proper engineering principles and is literally like building your house on sand and hoping it will stay standing in the future.
The issues with a poorly planned MVP
The #1 obvious issue is that you will, in 2021, when everyone has a digital life, you will lose every customer as they’re pushed buggy software that collapses at the first sign of normal usage – in other words, when you just settle for a poorly baked MVP and release incomplete software, you will leave your customers unimpressed, assuming they’re still customers after that experience. And because users are very discerning today as their digital life already has placed the bar pretty high, with little patience, they’ll immediately dismiss and not bother with if the product doesn’t work the first time – just go with a dodgy experience, sign-up process badly designed, confusing interface and you have lost your customers from day one and forever. And they’ll most likely talk about it on social platforms …
So … is going down the v0.1 half-baked MVP route really worth that risk? The “move fast and break things”. culture was probably okay between 2005 and 2015, but that era is absolutely over!
And if your entrepreneur boss hopes that if the product in the future is still miraculously a success and then you can go back and fix the problems, keep your customers and without compromising their data, just remind them that your customers are not your beta testers. Not, ever. “being agile (as in “not waterfall”) is not about releasing crap.
Product people don’t release crap, period.
That’s why I always use the term “Minimal Lovable Product” and ban using the term MVP from my product teams. Yes, literally.
So how to avoid the MVP trap and get directly to think product MLP?
Let me know what you think!
My name's phil mora and I blog about the things I love fitness, hacking work, tech and anything holistic.
Head of Product
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