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Minimum Viable Product

Before you invest in the three-tiered cake, why not test the market and learn more with a cupcake?  A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a basic version of the product that is relatively cheap and fast to build (minimum), with enough features to satisfy early customers (viable) and is used to gain feedback that will inform future iterations.    THE MVP ADVANTAGE. MVPs are used to gain the most actual customer and market feedback with the lowest upfront investment possible. By 'actual', this differs from Prototypes or gaining feedback from test groups — MVPs are tested in a live market. MVPs reduce costs, test the core of your product idea, and provide an early and practical customer Feedback Loop to further develop your product and grow your market.    MVP vs RAT. An MVP is fundamentally an experiment and a way to test the hypothesis behind a product or business. There are many variations but MVPs tend to preview and test an experience – becoming a 'mini' or simplified version of the ultimate product.  An alternative approach, and one that can be incorporated into MVPs, is the Riskiest Assumption Test (RAT) which tests weaknesses upfront in contrast to the MVP approach of delivering and building on basic value. You can take a few approaches to this end including creating a landing page to capture interest before you build a product. View our RAT entry here, and consider how you might combine the two approaches. PREVIEWING THE EXPERIENCE. We've gone with the 'cupcake' metaphor in our graphic, which was first outlined by Brandon Schauer, and highlights the importance of ‘previewing the customer experience’, rather than just presenting isolated aspects of the most basic functionality of the final solution. That said, both approaches — of focusing on base functionality versus previewing the experience — are valid, it depends on which aspect is crucial to making that product 'good enough to sell' (ie. what makes it viable). FROM STARTUPS TO EVERYTHING.  MVPs were popularised by the Lean Startup model as a fundamental tool for entrepreneurs and product managers, but consider how you might apply it to other areas of your work and life. What big, complicated projects are you involved in? How might you invest the smallest resources, while providing clear value, so that you can gain feedback and iterate forward? From a large life decision like moving cities, possibly starting a new job, right through to supporting your child to start a new sport — consider how you might apply a 'MVP' mindset.  IN YOUR LATTICEWORK.  We've already pointed to strong links with Lean Startup and a related but often counterposed approach of Riskiest Assumption Test (RAT). Also consider how you can broaden your experiments with lessons from the Scientific Method, as well as considering Return on Failure and how you incorporate Prototypes and Split Testing.    

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