The Minimum Viable Product (sometimes also called Minimal Viable Product or MVP for short) is one strategy for this.
The Minimum Viable Product is not a prototype, but a pretotyping technique. Yes, you read that right. Pretotyping pursues the goal of building the right thing with the least amount of effort, rather than trying to build things right.
Read this article to find out what benefits the MVP can bring to your company for customer-centric product development.
The MVP as one element among other pretotyping variants is already used today in almost every company that wants to get quick feedback from early adopters of solutions.
So what does a Minimum Viable Product look like in terms of definition and what functions does it have?
The MVP fits perfectly into Eric Ries’ Lean Startup Cycle, which is all about building something as quickly as possible together with customers, then measuring and continuously learning from it. This helps your business avoid the risk of developing solutions that no one needs. By realizing a product idea, aligning its functional scope with customer needs, and validating this again and again, you will succeed in advancing an idea that really has potential.
The Lean Cycle can be found here in the following graphic. The Build-Measure-Learn method lets you iteratively test MVPs. Learn more about the Lean Startup approach here.
The value added of a Minimal Viable Product is now clear. But which business model or industries is this approach suitable for and is it really useful? As a rule, technical or technology-oriented products are suitable for this type of product development strategy. A development strategy with a Minimum Viable Product essentially involves three steps:
Create a simple and single product that solves a very small subset of the potential customers of a large problem for your target group.
While solving a small subset of smaller problems to address customer challenges, you will tackle the larger and more comprehensive problem. Why? Because you’re constantly interacting with the subset of your customers and getting feedback.
Use this product development strategy to create a vision and value proposition for the future end product.
Learn how to develop a customer-centric value proposition here.
The Minimal Viable Products existing today usually have a fundamental flaw: they only represent the functional level, but forget the importance for customers of the other levels such as emotional design, usability and reliability.
There are different types in the implementation and design of the MVP approach, which we would like to introduce to you.
1. Concierge MVP
2. Wizard of Oz MVP
3. Landing Page MVP
4. Email MVP
But how do these Minimal Viable Products differ?
The MVP does not only help you and your company develop new products or features that are designed with customers. Rather, you will be able to get to know existing or new customers more intensively in a pragmatic way.
Very helpful for MVP development and going much deeper into organizational development is the excellent book by Salim Ismael called Exponential Organizations: The Engineering Principle for Transforming Organizations in the Information Age. Highly recommended.
The term Minimum Viable Product was pioneered by Frank Robinson in 2001 and used in subsequent years by Eric Ries, a student, and Steve Blank, customer development enthusiast and lecturer at Yale University. The term is an essential element of the Lean Startup methodology.
Find more about Customer Development here.
An MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is a streamlined and very minimal product that fulfills a customer benefit, at least to a certain extent. This allows it to be tested as early as possible on the market with and on its customers, and the product to be further developed continuously and step-by-step on the basis of customer feedback. This includes trying out ideas, developing them further and, under certain circumstances, discarding them.
An MVP could also be described as the intersection between a “raw product without customer benefit” and a “highly usable product, but with enormous effort and costs”.
An MVP or MFP (a minimum viable product) comes from Lean Startup, developed by Eric Ries.
With a Minimum Viable Product, the aim is not to create a product with few functions, an aesthetically pleasing design or advantages, but to find out as much as possible about the product and the potential product users (customers) with a minimum of effort. In this way, it is possible to act more quickly and to be as well positioned as possible at the time of market launch.
The challenge is to define the “minimum” in such a way that the product is still usable, i.e. “viable”, and thus delivers an initial benefit to customers. Customer feedback is elementary for further development. Without customer feedback, companies run the risk of developing products based solely on assumptions and possibly even gut feelings and personal sensitivities of the founders/entrepreneurs and thus bypassing the market. In other words, a product that nobody needs.
As a founder and entrepreneur, I experience every day how important customer centricity is for companies.
Integrate the essential customer perspective into your product genesis and marketing processes. That puts horse powers on the street, until it runs.
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