When looking at how to adopt a minimum viable product mindset, we first must look at what is a minimum viable product (MVP)? An MVP is the smallest version of your product with enough features to satisfy your initial customer base. The main advantage of an MVP is it allows you to gain insights into your clients interest areas in your product without having to fully develop it. Additionally, the sooner you can get the product to market, the sooner you can start gathering feedback direct from market, allowing you to pivot and adapt.
Now that we understand what is a minimum viable product, and some of the core benefits in developing one, let's dive into how you can start to adopt an MVP mindset.
1. Understand your "why"
What is the problem you are starting with, and who are you solving it for? If you can't/ don't answer these questions first, then you may need to re-evaluate the purpose of the project.
We recommend reading how to start with a problem for agile software development.
2. Identify the what and when
So you’ve got your why, now it’s important to list out what needs to be done, and when it should be done in the timeline. This process of building out your backlog of requirements allows you to have control over the time and resources spent on getting this MVP to market because you can clearly see the pieces of functionality essential to delivering a strong product.
3. Look around
You would've heard the phrase "Nothing new under the sun." Keep this in mind when building software, chances are someone has built something similar before. Research these products, learn from their mistakes and borrow from the obvious wins.
4. Understand that done is better than perfect
The first step in adopting an MVP mindset is accepting the above statement. In order to get any of the advantages found with adopting the process you must understand that this is all about speed to market and fast adaptation, your goal is to release something good enough for people to use. That way, you can learn from them.
5. Continual evolution (build, measure, learn)
Build, Measure, Learn. Once you have released your first version, firstly take a sigh of relief and give yourself a pat on the back! Then start to get feedback from your users, listen to what they are saying, continue testing internally and prepare to build out your backlog so you're ready for the next iteration.
In summary, to adopt an MVP mindset you must be accepting of change, ready to discover new ideas and maintain the flexibility to act quickly. If you can do all of these things then you will be able to reap some of the rewards successful products like Airbnb, Uber and Dropbox did going to market with an MVP and building on learnings.