There’s a little cartoon that sits above my desk titled “How to MVP”. The visual analogy used is slowly transforming your skateboard idea into a car by having it progress through the stages of scooter, bike and motorbike before evolving into a car. This is representative of a minimum viable product.
Effectively, the idea is to test your business concept in increments. For example, each time you experiment with your product, you learn from what customers have to say and improve the product accordingly. Gradually, it will grow from skateboard, to bike and finally, to car.
The link between each stage of growth is human interaction and feedback. You should not rely on your own assumptions on what you believe customers want. Nor should you progress too far down a particular path without taking in feedback.
The cartoon above my desk warns against the isolated approach. The car should be end-game however, it should not be the means to the end. There should not be tunnel vision to deliver the car upfront at all costs. Instead, start with a usable concept that you believe customers value and then release it for feedback. After each round of feedback, you will have the opportunity to improve your product to deliver even more customer value.
Inviting others to provide feedback requires considerable courage. Listening to others strip your business idea to the bone is a scary experience and I have often made the mistake of taking it personally. However, by not opening yourself to critique, you can become wedded to your idea and unwilling to accept change; a mistake that your business cannot afford to make.
Say, for instance, my business objective was to help others arrive at work quicker. Using the analogy of transforming skateboard to car, my MVP could start at the basics: axels and wheels conjoined by a wooden board. That is a releasable idea that others could use for travel. I test this in-market but, it turns out that the market wants something more powerful. Therefore, I improve my skateboard product to the scooter. These iterations of feedback and improvement occur all the way until I have a car; a product that provides immense value for those who want to arrive at work efficiently.
A simple example however, the principle remains the same. For a business, feedback is one of the cheapest and most powerful tools it can use. Useful and usable business ideas are often built on successive rounds of customer feedback. How will your business embrace this challenge?
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