MVPs: Fail Fast, Fail Cheap.

Josh Meyers
3 min readJun 7, 2021
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

The advantages of an MVP strategy

  • Design teams work efficiently to discover learnings while minimizing waste
  • Design teams stay focused on user outcomes
  • MVPs make business sense

MVPs are efficient

MVPs (Minimum Viable Product) are essential elements to the concept of failing fast, failing cheap.

As a design team, it is important to realize that time and resources spent have real business impact. The longer it takes to build or iterate on a product, the more expensive it gets.

Thus, employing MVPs to minimize waste and maximize learnings is a powerful and agile approach to product design.

Simply put, MVPs are the least effort for the most learning. The focus of an MVP is therefore what the team deems the most important thing to learn at the lowest cost.

Since a design team only needs so much feedback to determine the next step for the product, the MVP keeps the team honest by only allowing a minimum effort to discover that next step.

Application: When defining an MVP for your next sprint, focus on a learning goal rather than a feature or fidelity goal in order to shave off any waste in time or effort.

MVPs keep design teams focused

MVPs are helpful in failing fast and failing cheap by design. For example, say we plan to discover if people want to put a screw into a piece of wood (user problem).

Instead of building a drill (possible solution) which takes time, resources, and engineering, we might build a screw driver (MVP) first and test it with users. If people respond well to using the screw driver, then we know we have an opportunity on our hands.

If people don’t want to put in the screw when presented with the screw driver, then can quickly see how no one would want a drill either. As a result we can save our time and resources by not building a drill and instead discovering what a user really wants.

Application: Use MVPs to focus on a small area of innovation in order to validate the team’s hypothesis and user research. A failed MVP is just as valuable as a successful MVP, as it can aid the vision of the team.

MVPs make business sense

Since MVPs boost efficiency in terms of time and resources spent, design teams can use MVPs to communicate business value to key stakeholders.

It is much easier to pitch small iterative tests for a product roadmap than it is to convince managers of a long and expensive development plans.

Thus, taking baby steps with MVPs allow both the design team and management to track the efficacy of various development related projects and pull the plug on wasteful ventures.

Application: Using MVPs to reallocate resources from failed experiments helps on a business level to keep costs down. As a design team, being systematic with MVPs will help communicate business value and objectives to key stakeholders, building trust and confidence between teams.

Conclusion

MVPs act as experiments to deliver efficient learnings. Those learnings can then become the basis of the next iteration, building a product piece by piece.

Since an MVP strategy focused on distilling learnings into value, they can save time and resources by cutting everything that is non-essential.

Thus, the main benefit of failing fast and and failing cheap is the conservation of time and money to be reallocated. This follows the core principles of an agile framework that allows a design team to be nimble and flexible.

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