One of the most fundamental principles of developing tech products is to start with a minimal goal for a first version, rather than piling up all of your ideas and expecting reality to swiftly conform to it. Here are some thoughts on the process:

– When asked to choose whether an idea is part of the MVP the answer is too often intuitively ‘yes’. It helps to ask the question in relative terms, such as: “Would you prefer the product to be released x months sooner but without feature y or would you prefer to wait?“.

– There needs to be plenty of allowance for unknown unknowns at the end of the project. The bigger the MVP, the more unknown unknowns there are.

– The closer the project gets to completion and being presented to their customers/stakeholders, the more tempting it becomes to add to it. Receiving feedback on our work is frightening.

– There are still good reasons to make an MVP bigger. You might be investing in a product launch or might only have one chance to leave a positive first impression with certain stakeholders. Or you might be building hardware that can later not be changed easily.

– With that in mind, there’s the common advice to ‘fail fast’. This requires a fair bit of interpretation on the audience’s part. If you’re releasing a new medical device or Tesla are testing their latest self-driving features, ideally you don’t want to fail fast, or at all! But getting feedback from as close to the real market audience as possible, as early as possible, is a good thing.

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