5 MVP misconceptions to be aware of

MVP & POC product and platform development

A “Most Valuable Player” on the football field is one who has shown his worth and is considered the true prize of the season for a team. The MVP hopes to be something very similar, and may show early signs, but needs time to develop.

In understanding a minimum viable product (MVP), Agile, Lean and Lean Startup first need to be addressed.

In IT, Agile is a method for project development that prioritizes high-value functions then conducts ongoing tests with users throughout, thereby identifying and correcting errors early on. First pioneered in Japan by W. Edwards Demming for Toyota, Lean is a method in manufacturing that aims to minimize waste. Design a simple system, measure it all, and continuously improve. Lean Startup combines Agile and Lean then brings in customer development. The product is tested against users in Agile. But it’s tested against the market in Lean Startup. Agile avoids creating a product that won’t work. Lean Startup’s aim is to avoid creating a product that people don’t need. MVP is a concept coined and defined by Frank Robinson then popularized after Eric Ries described it in his book The Lean Startup, “that stresses the impact of learning in new product development ... A key premise behind the idea of MVP is that you produce an actual product that you can offer to customers and observe their actual behavior with the product or service. Seeing what people actually do with respect to a product is much more reliable than asking people what they would do.”


The big misconceptions about MVPs

Ideally, an MVP should accomplish three main things: have just enough features; satisfy early customers; and enable feedback for future development. But, confusion and miss-projections about MVPs can get you into trouble. The five big misconceptions are:

1. An MVP is not a draft or a prototype ... It’s the first instance of a real product, the beginning of its life cycle and the basis for future iterations.
2. An MVP is not the final version of a product ... The ‘M’ stands for ‘minimum,’ so keep it that way. Big ideas are hard to tamp down, but an MVP should be contained even just to one strong feature that can later develop.
3. An MVP is not the best mechanism to raise money ... Investors won’t invest in something that is not already on the go with compelling metrics, a following, and early revenue. An MVP needs more time.
4. Don’t assume your MVP is enough to launch an entire business ... MVPs are evolving products, it’s in an ongoing process and needs the time to mature.
5. If the MVP is not successful, the product is not doomed ... MVPs can be what determines if an entrepreneur needs to pivot. So, the MVP can lead to turning off one idea or track and turning on another.
Developing a minimum, bare-bones product allows for the opportunity to discover whether people need or want it. If they don’t, and that ‘great idea’ is flopping on its side, gasping for a bit for air, then change, refresh, move toward a new vision. This is what MVP does best.

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