Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a popular term that speeds software products and other services through the design process. The concept’s essence is to release early so that potential users can participate in design through their early feedback. The more learning cycles of the development team and prospects go through together, the better the product, the better-tuned the features, and the faster the development. Presumably, when new products and services are delivered with the MVP approach, they “succeed faster.” MVP is a good thing.
However, getting a product to function as expected is a different outcome than getting that product to deliver value for customers. You know the story when people buy a drill, it’s the hole that they truly desire.
Since customers choose products and services not only on their functionality but on many factors, it makes sense to alter the MVP process to include them. The way customers evaluate value goes beyond functional benefits such as it works, saves time, reduces effort, etc. Customers expect other kinds of value such as aesthetics, fun, anxiety reduction, and status.
Some individuals bring even higher expectations. They expect the products and services they buy to help them transform something big, like their businesses, their clients’ outcomes, or even themselves. At the apex of the customer value pyramid, some want to make a social impact. Eric Almquist does an excellent job of breaking down “The 30 Things Customer Really Value” in his 2016 Harvard Business Review article.
Focusing on product functionality only (the core of the MVP approach) doesn’t address most of these value types. Let’s review a process that does.
MVE (yes, it’s a coined term) focuses on Minimum Viable Experience. It extends MVP’s definition (which focuses on the product itself) to include the entire end-to-end customer experience. Adopting the MVE perspective means that product and service designers can now figure out not only what works (the product) but how to make sure it works for the client (i.e., helps them achieve the most critical outcomes they seek). It’s a small change in thinking, yet it generates immense extra value in the real world.
“Changing your perspective from MVP to MVE is a small change in thinking, but generates big positive changes to the bottom line.”
Here’s how it works. MVE starts studying client reactions before the product is used, captures client behaviors during, and measures client results (i.e., measuring what they consider essential) at/after the end.
Focus your attention on these moments/places for maximum effect:
- Learning about the product or service
- Guidance with selection, configuration, and purchasing
- Training and support
- Customer service
- Billing and contracting
- Upgrades (sometimes) and renewals
- End-of-life routines
Since how the product works and how it creates value for customers are so tightly connected, it makes sense to use the Minimum Viable approach to deliver the most attractive, fastest to market, and fastest-to-scale solution. Changing your perspective from MVP to MVE might earn your next promotion for you or, at least, a nice bonus ;-)
In conclusion, I love MVP, AND I love MVE (maybe a little more).