“What we call chaos is just patterns we haven’t recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can't decipher.”
― Chuck Palahniuk
Lean and agile ways of working have a vocabulary of their own, in that certain words and phrases are given a precise meaning. One term that has recently come into vogue is "Minimum Viable Product". Along with other Lean Startup terms like "Pivot" and "Disruptive Innovation", this expression has become rather devalued and its precision blurred. For example, is it the same thing as a "Minimum Marketable Product" - see Roman Pichler's excellent article on this topic. What about a "Minimum Usable Subset"? Then again, it may be argued that an MVP is in some sense equatable to the "must have" requirements on a Product Backlog. Lean and agile practices may now be popular, but the rate at which their terminology has been co-opted far outstrips the pace of shared understanding.
In this article we consider the intent and motivation behind the usage of this particular term, and present it as an agile pattern. Patterns like this can help in agile adoption if they capture best practices and suitable acceptance criteria for applying them are worked out. This is a first draft of this pattern and so feedback is very welcome.
― "Minimum Viable Product" is Pattern of the Month at agilepatterns.org
Minimum Viable Product
Intent: Deliver a small portion of value in order to provide
an early return on investment, and/or to allow lessons to be learned as
quickly as possible
- You Ain’t Gonna Need It
- Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS)
- Test the water first
- Minimum Usable Subset
Applicability: The delivery of a Minimum Viable Product is appropriate when the provision of a subset of product features would be useful in its own right.
Consequences: The provision of a Minimum Viable Product is time constrained. Either a Return On Investment must be harvested as soon as possible, or a hypothesis must be tested and lessons learned before time and effort is wasted. By definition, the constituent items in a Minimum Viable Product are all must-have requirements. As such there can be no flexibility of scope. The risk of not delivering an MVP within a specified timebox is therefore high.
- The Minimum Viable Product and the Minimal Marketable Product, by Roman Pichler
- Minimum Viable Product, by Ash Maurya
- Minimum Viable Product: a guide, by Eric Ries
- An MVP is not a Cheaper Product, It’s about Smart Learning, by Steve Blank