Where do You Draw the Line on Good to Start?


You have felt it and so have I — that inner tug of war between perfect and good enough. It's a constant negotiation we have with ourselves. Get something out into the world, or wait and keep developing the concept.

Hence the concept — and culture — of the minimum viable product (MVP). I probably confused the issue recently by bringing up the maximally valued product as the words associated with the same acronym. Truth be told, they are the same concept, seen from two slightly different vantage points.

  • you build a minimum viable product — so you get it in market and start iterating the features and functionality users do use to evolve the product along with their feedback in the form of behavioral quantitative and potentially qualitative data
  • people buy/opt-into a maximally valued product — one that has the features and functionality they seek to get the job done and pass the utility test with a dose of delight in the simplicity of the experience

MVP is a concept that spread beyond the startup community through Eric Ries popular book The Lean Startup.

Because technology moves so fast, yet humans tend to progress at a much slower, evolutionary pace, that is the way we build sustainable applications and experiences even for the enterprise. That is where the race is on to provide/build the platform that drives and tracks the customer experience all the way back into the operational aspects of what it takes to deliver it.

A solid MVP is disruptive. Why? In a proposal to SxSWi that was admittedly probably three years too early, I outlined my definition of disruptive.

Disruptive technology is both meaningful — relevant, private, and personal — and commercially viable (even in the early stages).
A technology is disruptive when it helps a business make and keep the
best of all promises and get in exchange the things that go to making
that business stronger, more resilient, and enduring.

The process to good to start

Hardest part is resisting the temptation to just develop an app. Instead, you want to do a minimal due diligence and some thinking to uncover what's going on that matters, what change is needed, and what you should do first, then second, third, etc.

  • Good strategy work that helps you define and narrow requirements — both those of the customers and the business
  • Great design — we're talking in the remarkable experience corner here
  • Get there early on content strategy — it's a before-thought
  • Get front end development involved to go from "this is what we envision" to "this is how it works" prototype either in HTML5 or native experience across devices
  • Validate with customers — test early and you are able to iterate before committing resources down a path that will not give you a maximally valued product

Preparation and research up front do save you time and help you build the appropriate experience, one only your business and brand will provide. Yet that is often the phase of the project that gets short-circuited. 

This is not a conversation about managing risk, although you do manage it by choosing both meaningful (to customers) and commercially viable (to the business). It's a process that helps you decide whether you would rather buy time or invest in it.


[image courtesy colleague Jonathan Lupo]


Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at
conferences and companies on a variety of topics. To book her for a
speaking engagement click here.

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