The Four Parts of a Minimal Viable Product

The Four Parts of an MVP in the Storyboard

(This is part of a series of posts about testing product/market fit. You can download the Product/Market Fit Storyboard here. If you're in San Francisco, you can also join the Your MVP Sucks! Workshop.)

The terms Product/Market Fit and Minimal Viable Product have been inexplicably (and inextricably) linked in the tech consciousness.

If people sign up for our MVP, that means we've got Product/Market Fit, right?


As we discussed last week, Product/Market Fit is as much about being ready to scale as it is about having a desirable product.

If our MVP is just smoke test, a landing page just to test customer demand, certainly you're not ready to scale. (Frankly, calling most smoke tests an MVP is a serious stretch. We tend to forget that the 'V' stands for Viable.)

If our MVP is a Wizard of Oz test where you manually provide the service, you may not be ready to scale, but you may have a strong indication it's time to build a little bit more.

So what's in an MVP?


Product/Market Fit

False Positives and Product / Market Fit

As I've mentioned, being a lean startup is hard. Beyond the psychological pressures of trying desperately to fail at a rapid rate, there are a million ways to test a hypothesis, and a million hypotheses.

How do we know which type of test to use, and when to use it?

Should we do a smoke test? A concierge test? Talk to our customers?

All we want is to build something people want. Which one of these tests will actually tell us if we have the fabled Product / Market Fit?

(This is a giant topic that I'm going to explore over the next several posts. You can cut to the chase by downloading the Product / Market Fit Storyboard here. If you're in San Francisco, you can also join the Your MVP Sucks! Workshop.)

Let's start with the obvious...

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Lean Startup in the Enterprise Anti-pattern: The Lean Waterfall

Lean Enterprise Anti-Pattern: The Lean Waterfall

More and more enterprise scale companies are drinking the lean Kool Aid and starting to implement Lean Startup methodology. In doing so, they are failing at the most basic level.

Lean methodology is not lean startup. An MVP is not learning. A Business Model Canvas is not business model innovation. These things are just artifacts. They are workarounds. These workarounds, applied poorly and/or inappropriately, can result in some wonderful anti-patterns.

One of my favorites is that piecemeal lean-startup is just waterfall in disguise.

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