Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Minimum Viable Process

As I've been thinking about the idea of a "minimum viable product" popularized by Eric Ries (famous for the "Lean Startup" movement) I had the idea that what was equally important in an organization is "minimum viable process."  Like any good idea, it had already been (mostly) had by someone else.  Have a read of Cindy Alvarez's piece.  Some noteworthy quotes:

Calling anything a “minimum viable product”, in some ways, allows us to fall back into the familiar trap of writing a bunch of requirements and then building a bunch of stuff.Maybe we should reassociate MVP with Minimum Viable Process, to emphasize that this is an ongoing, iterating cycle that never really allows us to rest in our comfort zone.
So, there’s no ONE minimum viable product.  You can’t identify one thing and then stop talking to your customers and go build.  Because you’re not really building a product – you’re building an environment that supports increasingly educated guesses. 

An additional thought that I had that isn't really reflected in Cindy's is that "minimum viable process" is important for *how* you build your "minimum viable product" as well.  If you do a great job building an MVP but it takes you 5x as long because of your processes then you've just traded back part of your savings for having pursued and built an MVP.

I don't know how it works in practice, but the culture at Netflix appears to nicely capture a "minimum viable process"