Your MVP is all Bull

By Anton Rossouw.

When I need some inspiration, I often start on the journey searching for it by looking at some of the works of my favourite artists, one being Marc Chagall, another Helen Norton and of course Pablo Picasso (I also love his quotes as they resonate so well with me!).

One of these explorations brought me to think about artistic merit in product design and how we need to think about and approach what we are designing in agile terms known as the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) in collaboration with the product owner.

 I believe at minimum the key characteristics is that the MVP must at least be:

1.    Valuable to the product owner and the end-clients with a real business purpose and utility and not just be another “nice thing”.

2.    Do-able practicable with realistic delivery in line with the team capability in a short timeframe (weeks not months).

3.    Affordably satisfy a tangible ROI in a no frills way and be able to evolve from an initial base  delivery to create more and more incremental value else it should be "extincted" quickly.

With that in mind my teams and product owners often ask how they  should approach the definition of the MVP and in particular "what it should look like".   Well, that's not an easy answer at all because the product concept may only exist initially as an "idea" that needs stimulation for manifestation. 

Before starting the  stimulation process we need to agree that we need to satisfy the above MVP key characteristics, and then enter into activities that will lead to the products exhibiting "artistic merit" by stimulating team creativity and innovation so that we can craft the MVP from virtually nothing into what it is to become.

For this not to just be a "woolly generic statement",  we need to refer to some examples to make it easy for the team to generate inspirational emergent ideas that will lead to "what this would look like" in real life. 

So for this I like to use Pablo Picassos "Bulls"  as  inspiration and illustration, by talking  the image through with the team and the product owners. This particular artwork is a very powerful creative instrument that often amazes with how quickly the teams "gets it" to start talking about what the MVP should look like.  

This image quickly lands the team to distil the product design framework to its most minimal and simple essence, exactly as Picasso does with his bull!  

Although Picasso has followed the process to "de-construct" the bull from the most complex to its mere essence, one can approach it from both sites as either de-compositional or/and re-constitutional points of view.   

Its for me the perfect illustration of how to achieve the ultimate MVP of the Bull. 

To sum up; To land on a great MVP the team needs to process some iterative hard tack inspiration interspersed with interaction and collaboration on de-and re-construction of the product as a Bull!

And now in the spirit of artistic inspiration some whimsical imagery from Helen Norton with "The Bull of Heaven Descending" 

(Note. The bull sculpture in the header is available for the serious collector - buy from here)