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MVP: Minimum Viable Product vs. Maximum Value Product


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Start-ups and product reboots are all thinking the same thing - how quickly can we get to market? The app market is break-kneck, and being first-to-market, or soon-to-market can be important, but, not at the expense of quality. In this talk we'll explore the motivations for being first, and argue the values of being "better"

From experience, we'll focus on how to convince clients and stakeholders to buy-in to quality over "fast" - as a philosophy, as a differentiator, and as a process to making it happen.

Anyone can make an app - just look at any of the app stores, but only the ones that focus on the customer, on quality, and on the entire experience as a whole will succeed.

This talk will give you a roadmap to create better products, get and keep clients on-board with your direction, and deliver outstanding products to the market.

Published in: Design, Technology, Business

MVP: Minimum Viable Product vs. Maximum Value Product

  1. 1. MVP: Minimum Viable Product vs. Maximum Value Product. Adam R.T. Smith, CEO / Director of Experience Design Liquid Reality
  2. 2. Adam R.T. Smith C.E.O. / Director of Experience Design @liquidreality
  3. 3. state of mobile today
  4. 4. "The global apps business is expected to make $25 billion in revenue this year, up 62% from a year ago, according to Gartner. To put that in perspective, movie theaters sold less than half that dollar amount at the box office in 2012." - WSJ: Business of Apps / Gartner Research crazy money
  5. 5. phenomenal growth iOS App StoreiOS App Store Google PlayGoogle Play Downloads 50 Billion + 48 Billion + Total Apps 850,000 + 800,000 +
  6. 6. seems like we’re doing great, right?
  7. 7. that’s misleading...
  8. 8. • Too many apps with poor quality, flawed UX, thoughtless design • Another photo app, another social app, another game • Me-too’s, also-ran’s, and flat out imitators are crowding the market • And users are noticing...
  9. 9. "Canalys estimates that just 25 developers accounted for 50% of app revenue in the US in these stores [Apple App Store & Google Play] during the first 20 days of November 2012. Between them, they made $60 million from paid-for downloads and in-app purchases over this period." - Canalys, December 2012
  10. 10. most apps fail...
  11. 11. most apps suck.
  12. 12. minimum viable product
  13. 13. • in 2009, Eric Ries coines the term “Minimum Viable Product” • based on the unconventional process used to build IMVU • developed the methodology after a couple his previous startups failed • made a name for himself through his book, speaking & helping entrepreneurs
  14. 14. • MVP methodology asks us to reach out to the market sooner than ever before • private beta, a landing page, or an AdWords text ad • tries to get actionable feedback from the market as soon as possible, as cheaply as possible • intended to validate a companies assumptions early & often
  15. 15. traditional roadmap
  16. 16. mvp roadmap
  17. 17. • positioned as sitting in the middle of two opposing extremes:
  18. 18. product development extremes
  19. 19. where mvp fits
  20. 20. • unique in the way that it combines market testing right into the earliest prototyping and validation stages • intended to let the market tell you at each iteration, what they like and don’t like, qualitatively and quantitatively • via in-product analytics tools like Flurry, Google Analytics, and Localytics • solicited and unsolicited direct user feedback MVP is:
  21. 21. • suggests you create something that can measure interest in the problem you are trying to solve • and the way in which you are attempting to solve it • before you’ve solved it • it’s a learning process, in theory, with the primary goal of gathering as much data, metrics, and analysis possible to figure out what works and what doesn’t
  22. 22. • note: purist view of MVP is not intended to cater to the whims of your customers, but rather to run experiments on them and derive your own conclusions
  23. 23. the experiment, or series of experiments, in a Build-Measure-Learn loop, allows you to continually evolve your product until it satisfactorily solves your problem, or your idea fails...
  24. 24. whichever comes first.
  25. 25. benefits touted for MVP include: • the cost of user acquisition for traditional product launches can be tremendously expensive, so adopting MVP lowers the cost of failing with a product the market doesn’t want • benefit from testing with real, organic use cases. It’s out there in the wild, used by real people in the real ways they will use your product • low-hanging fruit is identified and checked off early. Easy pickings for quick fixes and obvious missteps
  26. 26. • brings clarity to your business goals: re-prioritize and re- evaluate realistic milestones • allows you to test your marketing initiatives: value propositions, and messaging at very early stages, and with each iteration. • allows you to generate early revenue, because nothing speaks louder than people giving you their hard earned money. • allows you to fail fast and often, and learn from your failings.
  27. 27. not proven to provide any more value than any other methodology, and can in fact cause more harm than good.
  28. 28. problems with MVP as a methodology
  29. 29. • going to market too soon in order to validate your ideas and solutions is lazy and disrespectful • a way to avoid facing the hard problems head on, working through them to uncover the right solution, and building a great product for your future customers.
  30. 30. • do your homework • really GET the problems your trying to solve • really GET what your target audience wants and needs at the deepest level • are willing to put in the effort to really figure out what it is that NEEDS to be solved if you:
  31. 31. • you are far better equipped to solve those problems than random users who click on smoke-tests or sign up for private betas then:
  32. 32. with a minimal product that is incomplete, in flux, and doesn’t yet stand up to users maturing expectations, you’re asking them to have a lot of unsupported faith in your company and your dedication to solving their problems on their behalf
  33. 33. MVPs attract 3 types of users • the people that want to hate you from the get go, no matter who you are or what your product does • the people that want to love you and will tell you how much they appreciate where your products going, but, won’t bother you with the negative feedback
  34. 34. MVPs attract 3 types of users • in the middle, there’s those that genuinely care about the problem you’re solving, your product and really want to help you help them. • this middle group is often the smallest, and their data is obscured by the overly polarized data from the previous groups
  35. 35. • actionable feedback doesn’t come from beta testers who want to feel like they’re “in the loop” • it comes from users who care about your product, who believe in the solution you are offering, who see that you’ve put in the time to build something that caters to their needs • valuable feedback is inseparable from genuine care for the product • making product decisions based on the input from users that aren’t invested in the success of your product is potentially dangerous.
  36. 36. • WANT your product • DESIRE your product • find it hard to imagine how they got by without it before it existed • can’t be done with a bare bones product cobbled together to test your ideas users, even testers, need to:
  37. 37. In mvp, the user experience is often missing, downplayed, or relegated to a “future enhancement”
  38. 38. in creating something minimally viable, something that doesn’t feel whole, and openly testing it in the market, you are establishing a brand association with an incomplete, unfinished and unpolished product
  39. 39. in order to get people in sufficient numbers to actually get valuable feedback, you have to announce that you’re working on something so early in the process that it alerts your competitors
  40. 40. • “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”- Steve Jobs • “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”- Henry Ford (although, it’s not proven he said this) • “Some people use research like a drunkard uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.”- David Ogilvy • “The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.”- Arthur C. Clark
  41. 41. worse still, is the misinterpretation of MVP
  42. 42. minimum viable product vs. minimum viable product
  43. 43. as a means to reduce time-to- market • many startups that look at MVP, see a fast, easy way to validate their ideas as cheaply as possible. • problem is, unless you find that your ideas fail REALLY early on in the process, it is certainly not faster - it’s quite the opposite. • building in all this testing, analysis and learning into each iteration can dramatically extend the development process - if you are actually learning from your inputs.
  44. 44. as a means to reduce costs • similarly, using the mvp methodology isn’t cheaper, again, unless you fail early and abandon your idea. • in the long run, if you’re doing it right, you still have to do all the same work you always do to create a new product. • including strategy, UX, design, and development. • but with the additional and potentially exponential costs of doing it in continuous iterative Build Measure Learn loops.
  45. 45. as a go-to-market strategy • MVP is a validation and market testing strategy. It is not a go-to-market strategy. • in the long run, if you’re doing it right, you still have to do all the same work you always do to create a new product. • including strategy, UX, design, and development. • but with the additional and potentially exponential costs of doing it in continuous iterative Build Measure Learn loops.
  46. 46. intentional or not, MVP has created an environment where it's ok to fail
  47. 47. • “Failing sooner is cheaper”. • “Failing on each iteration gives us insight to what users don’t want”. • “Sure we failed, but, we didn’t waste that much money”. • “Failing on v1.0 can’t be our fault, we’ve been testing this idea in the market since day one. They must have lied to us”. • moves accountability for success off of the company, the startup, the team and onto the market itself.
  48. 48. methodology of excuses • it wasn’t my idea. • it wasn’t built very well. • at least I knew when to call it a day.
  49. 49. The pressures on startups & the pressures on new products are significantly higher today than even just one year ago
  50. 50. aim for awesome
  51. 51. maximum value product
  52. 52. why?
  53. 53. Because the iPhone solved 3 critical problems, and solved those 3 problems exceptionally well.
  54. 54. They chose to release the device without the feature not because it wasn’t important to the product, they chose to omit the feature because it wasn’t “just right”.
  55. 55. The iPhone delivered the maximum value product possible within the constraints Apple faced by focussing only on what it could do exceptionally well, and setting aside that which it couldn't.
  56. 56. • A product is like an ecosystem. Every feature or function you introduce, or remove, has a direct impact on every other part of your product. • Being able to cut something when it doesn’t stand up to your quality standards is more difficult than cutting a feature when you run out of time or budget. • You are consciously removing something from your product that you may have working in some fashion, but is bringing the experience and quality of everything else you have done down.
  57. 57. Cut it like cancer. You’re product is only as good as its worst interaction.
  58. 58. • Diving in deep, and digging until no more can be dug to uncover those 3 or 4 fundamental problems that your product needs to solve is fundamental to creating maximum value products. • Every product starts with an idea, but that idea is usually amorphous, and leans more towards the solution end of the spectrum. • You have to really uncover what those problems that generate the need for that solution are, and they are not always obvious, or even logical.
  59. 59. How do you know when you’ve discovered one those fundamental problems?
  60. 60. • Once you have your fundamental problems, it is usually quite clear which ones are your critical pillars. • Those are the ones you focus on, those are the ones you put your all into solving and solving completely. critical pillars
  61. 61. Maximum Value is not about creating value through building more features
  62. 62. it’s about maximizing the value within the features you do build.
  63. 63. Whereas minimum viable product promotes doing only what is necessary to be viable
  64. 64. maximum value product promotes doing only that which you can do exceptionally well.
  65. 65. MVPs compared Minimum Viable ProductMinimum Viable Product Maximum Value ProductMaximum Value Product places focus on validating the solutions to your problems places focus on validating the problems you are trying to solve tells you to use the market to solve your problems maximum tells you to solve your problems FOR your market aims to create an environment where you can fail safely aims to create an environment where you can face the hard problems head on
  66. 66. MVPs compared Minimum Viable ProductMinimum Viable Product Maximum Value ProductMaximum Value Product is doing only what is necessary to be viable is doing only that which you can make awesome often sidelines the small things, the niceties, the polish specifically focusses on the small things, the niceties, the details the polish
  67. 67. Maximum Value Product is • about spending the time and effort upfront to distill the problems you are hoping to solve down to their most fundamental cores. Then solving those, and nothing more. • about respecting your customers by putting in the time, putting in the effort, and facing the hard problems head on before you ask for their time or money. • about having the passion, the love, the willingness to sacrifice, and the faith in yourself and your team to persevere in the face of what seems impossible.
  68. 68. Maximum Value Product is • about finding the right product gestalt, it’s soul, and never wavering. • about knowing which solutions you can execute phenomenally, and focussing your efforts on those. • about knowing what you can’t execute phenomenally. And being willing to hold back anything that isn’t. Including your entire product if need be.
  69. 69. Maximum Value Product is • about sweating the small stuff. Obsessively. • about believing that quality trumps features in the long run. • about Not using your customers as lab rats.
  70. 70. Because you sweat the small stuff. And when you do something, you do it right.
  71. 71. You need to be obsessively concerned about the small things, the in-betweens, the transient states - these are the areas where greatness hides.
  72. 72. • when it all comes down to it, it’s all about the details, the niceties, the design, the user experience, the optimizations, the performance. • these are the things that create desirability, these are the things that create loyalty, these are the things that tell your customer you respect them. • these are also the things that are generally the first to get sidelined in an MVP, because they are intangible, hard to quantify, and even harder to measure.
  73. 73. doing anything exceptionally well is hard. and doing it exceptionally well takes time, dedication, love, passion and a touch of insanity
  74. 74. working towards maximum value
  75. 75. • Slow down. People want to start working too soon. Figure out what core problems you’re really solving first. • Focus on your problem, not your solution. • Set your bar high and early. Always be working towards awesome, even if you don’t get there, you’ll be better off than if you’re focussed on the minimal. • Face the hard problems head on. Attack them. Dissect them. Get everyone talking about them.
  76. 76. • break down the walls created by roles & disciplines and just be smart people trying to solve the same problem together • involve all key team members as early as possible and continuously, especially when uncovering the problems you are trying to solve, and the ways you intend to solve them
  77. 77. • Embrace your constraints (time / money / resources) to determine what problems you can solve in a complete and awesome way. • You don't have to solve every problem, but you do have to solve every problem in the most amazing and holistic way you can. • If you can't do something awesome, don't do it at all.
  78. 78. • Critical Pillars critical pillars
  79. 79. • Staged Roadmap staged roadmap