The MVP transcends its acronym of “minimum viable product” to become a pivotal tool in crafting products that resonate with users. Alternatively, it guides the decision not to proceed with development if such resonance is unlikely.

At its core, an MVP is a development approach wherein a product is crafted with sufficient features to attract initial users and validate the concept early in the development cycle.

This validation is paramount: frequently, an MVP exposes the impracticality of investing significant time and resources into a complete product due to inadequate value proposition, mismatched audience, or flawed execution of what initially appeared promising.

In essence, an MVP distills the core features of an idea, swiftly transforms them into a product to solicit user feedback, iterates based on insights gained, and promptly iterates with a new version. It embodies a cycle of creation, evaluation, learning, and enhancement, all with minimal risk and investment. This encapsulates the business value of the MVP approach.

Key characteristics of an MVP include a well-designed interface, cost-effective production, functional utility, and clarity in communicating the intended purpose of the eventual digital product.

Good enough

The concept underlying the MVP embodies the notion of being “good enough” to swiftly embrace early and cost-effective failure. It serves as an effective pressure-reliever, as simply informing users, early adopters, or potential advocates that “this is just an MVP” is often sufficient to garner patience and foster openness that might otherwise be challenging to attain.

Hence, the project leader or product analyst has an opportunity to leverage this concept by portraying the development team as an MVP in its own right: a team in the process of familiarizing itself with and comprehending the product, still in need of learning and assistance, occasionally posing novice questions that hold the potential for profound review and fresh perspectives on various aspects.

Similar to the MVP, the development team learns to formulate assumptions about the rest, tests those assumptions, and gains further insights from the outcomes of those tests. Making mistakes is an inherent part of this iterative process.

However, it’s crucial to recognize that the “M” signifies “minimum,” and the “V” signifies “viable.” Consequently, there won’t be extensive time for research, documentation review, or full comprehension of all intricacies concerning the product-business relationship.

The Never-ending Story

The hardest part? An MVP never “feels” ready. Again, understanding this notion and accepting this reality is essential for dealing with stress and uncertainty in product development.

It’s possible that in iteration number 32, key information appears that would have been essential at the very beginning. Or that a beta tester discovers a critical problem that the development team overlooked.

There’s no need to worry. All this means one thing: there will be a new iteration underway, and the development team has generated new learnings that have also propelled them towards a new version of themselves.

A reassuring fact: some of the big digital companies we know today were born as MVPs. Among the most well-known examples are the property rental platform Airbnb, the mobility company Uber, the file hosting service Dropbox, the location-based social network Foursquare, and even Amazon itself.

In summary, among other benefits, the MVP allows for testing an idea with real users before embarking on the full development of a digital product. Its goal is to start the process of learning and hypothesis validation, not to finish it. There are no known shortcuts: the road will be tough and will require a lot of effort. As it is refined, completed, and improved, the goal will always be a little closer.