Reducing Product Risk and Removing the MVP Mindset: A Framework for Success


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 13, 2023

4 min read


Reducing Product Risk and Removing the MVP Mindset: A Framework for Success

In the fast-paced world of product development, it is crucial to find ways to reduce risk and deliver value to users. This requires a shift in mindset from the traditional Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach to a more strategic and phased delivery model. By understanding the type of product problem we are solving and who we are building for, we can tailor our approach to de-risking projects and ensure success.

One of the key principles of product work is that it is never truly done. Initial releases will never have everything teams want, but that's okay as long as we continue to iterate and provide value to users as new features become available. This is where the concept of reducing risk comes into play. By categorizing our customers into different quadrants based on their level of sophistication and the amount of data they generate, we can adopt different approaches to de-risking projects.

For customers who are less sophisticated and generate less data, the focus should be on building minimum viable products (MVPs) or features. The goal here is to deliver value to users by building the smallest product possible to test our hypothesis. MVPs and Minimum Viable Features (MVF) are meant to prove that our ideas actually solve a problem. They help reduce the ambiguity around the product problem and solution. However, once a project is de-risked, we should shift our approach and start building the desired product directly in phases.

It may be tempting to build the entire product upfront, especially when we have a clear vision of what we want to achieve. However, this is not advisable for a couple of reasons. Firstly, if we wait to deliver all the value we envisioned, customers are left with sub-par experiences for a long time. It's better to deliver value incrementally over time and make micro-adjustments to the vision based on user feedback. Secondly, even with strong visions backed by data, the usage of products can surprise us. By learning from usage incrementally, we can make necessary adjustments and avoid costly mistakes.

Now that we understand the importance of reducing risk and moving away from the MVP mindset, let's explore another valuable insight: the importance of mastering the basics. Scott H Young, an expert in learning and personal development, emphasizes that it is often the basics that matter most. Whether it's math, running a business, or writing, mastery of the fundamentals is key.

We often overlook the basics because they seem obvious or mundane. However, it is precisely because they are so fundamental that they have the most impact. Young suggests that one way to return to the basics is by changing our environment. By immersing ourselves in an environment that prioritizes and reinforces the basics, we can develop a stronger foundation for success.

Another strategy is to change our goals. When we set a higher standard for what we want to produce, our actions must adapt accordingly. By challenging ourselves to excel in the basics, we can elevate our performance and achieve better results. Finally, Young suggests that we can find room for improvement by examining our work after the fact. By analyzing our mistakes and learning from them outside the heat of the moment, we can make conscious efforts to avoid repeating them in the future.

In conclusion, reducing product risk and removing the MVP mindset require a strategic and thoughtful approach. By understanding the type of customer we are building for and tailoring our development approach accordingly, we can de-risk projects and deliver value to users. Additionally, by recognizing the importance of mastering the basics, we can lay a strong foundation for success and continually improve our performance. Here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Categorize your customers based on their level of sophistication and data generation to determine the most suitable approach to de-risking projects.
  • 2. Deliver value incrementally over time and make micro-adjustments to your product vision based on user feedback.
  • 3. Focus on mastering the basics in your field of expertise, as they often have the most significant impact on your overall performance.

By implementing these strategies and embracing a mindset of continuous improvement, we can navigate the complexities of product development and achieve long-term success.

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