Minimum Viable Product or just crap?

Having started my career in the heyday of Total Quality Management (it brings us back to the early 1980s!) and being educated to worship customer satisfaction in the Lean way, I am not very at ease with the Minimum Viable Product concept.

A minimum viable product has just those core features that allow the product to be deployed, and no more. The product is typically deployed to a subset of possible customers, such as early adopters that are thought to be more forgiving, more likely to give feedback, and able to grasp a product vision from an early prototype or marketing information. It is a strategy targeted at avoiding building products that customers do not want, that seeks to maximize the information learned about the customer per dollar spent.

Even so I fully understand and partly support the strategy, I am experiencing cases that keep fueling my distrust.

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The one that got me angry and triggered writing this post is about an app designed to manage social media.

I have several accounts within this app and to my surprise, the app has different behaviors and proposed features, depending the account I log in with.

This inconsistency is quite a surprise and does not suggest very good standards nor consistency in development strategy.

Over time, I experienced several bugs and even gave detailed feedback to help the developers’ team to improve. But it seems that every time they fix one, a new one appears. The latest denied me programming posts at desired time, which is the very basic function this app is made for!

I am using the free version and this is supposed to be the showcase for the premium offer. I’ll never go premium and I will quit using this app.

What I supposed to be ongoing improvement on a minimum viable product is just steadily proposing new crap. Hence my reservations about the concept, which is likely to be used to camouflage poor capabilities to deliver.

Any thoughts?

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3 thoughts on “Minimum Viable Product or just crap?

  1. Hi Chris,

    I bet it must have been a surprise if you started from TQM basis. MVP was a discovery and surprise to me as well. Much cheaper (sometimes free), much faster and quicker, built around close-to-real-time feedback. Flexible, agile, dynamic, responsive. You know, for me the key is usability. If it is working, serves its purpose, then it is worth doing it as a method. Consider the case that you are not a target customer (audience) for the app mentioned. Maybe your role was chosen for you only as debugger. I know how it sounds (‘was chosen’) but it could be the case. No product is expected to satisfy anyone on the planet. Quite the contrary – REAL customer is what counts. Or maybe not :). I found concept of MVP, originated by Rick Ries and then developed further by Ash Maurya, very useful while running small startup – actually app. It did not finalize with success yet but MVP was a much simplified (hence lean) version of over-complicated Business Case / Business Plan approach.



    • Hi Alex,

      This was a quick reply!
      Thank you for sharing.

      I admit a strong anger-bias in my post, which…inspired me.
      Beyond these cases I have the intuition of the real interest of MVP strategy, yet it may be used as an excuse by those not able to really deliver.
      About being a debugger: I seek solutions to my problems, not to take over other’s.


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