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That's All You Got?

Ryan Carlson

There are many names for early versions of a product or feature intended to test a market: Minimum Viable Product, "thin edge of the wedge", etc. Pursuing products this way is an efficient way to get real, validated feedback from customers, which is why they are the new hotness.

But beware of the challenges for someone who puts forth an MVP feature set for consideration. MVP proposals often elicit reactions that amount to: "that's not bad, but you could also do this one more feature or you could add this other great thing and it would be a lot better".  When commenting on proposed features, *everyone* becomes a designer or PM and wants to jump in and add more.

Worse (although less common) are reactions like these: "That's all you got? That's what you've come up with for our next killer feature? Dude, we need to get a new PM in here, this guy is not aiming high enough". And these reactions can come not only from sales but from the development team too.

Two tactics to help with this. First: when anyone is reviewing the MVP proposal, challenge commenters to improve the product by *removing* functionality. Anyone can make something "better" by adding functionality, but that's not the goal of the MVP.

Second, and more important: make absolutely sure the team is bought into a prototype / test / iterate philosophy, where they are 100% behind releasing early versions to paying customers. Don't just take their word for it either. Look for actions that indicate this philosophy. Very few people argue with an iterative approach in principal; but many have difficulty actually putting something minimal out there for all to see.