Aneel

Executive Marketing Consultant

Minimum Usable Product

From product-out to user-in perspectives

Minimum viability is very much a product-outwards perspective: what’s the least amount of work we can do to find out whether going down this line of thinking is a business idea that’s worth being invested in. It has nothing to do with viability for users.
It’s a well worn notion that the right way to build a product is to iterate through stages of development, where at each stage you deliver something that, on it’s own, provides real incremental value by accomplishing the user’s goal appreciably faster/cheaper/better than was possible before. A functional approach.

What makes a product viable for use is:

  • Being more usable at each stage of creation
  • Creating experiences of greater efficacy at every turn
  • Providing incremental wins at each step that add up to something much greater — a sense of joy. [Something I’ve seen enough times to say it with a straight face.]
This is distinctly not a product-out orientation — but instead a user-inwards orientation.
We have to make up for the pain we put users through — our stumbling attempts at building something useful, the suffering of (re)learning how to do something, breaking their workflows — with some pleasure on the other side.

Leading to questions that should be answered:

  • What is the qualitative, subjective improvement from the perspective of the user? Does it feel better? Does it yield results of higher quality?
  • What is the quantitative, objective improvement from the perspective of the user? Does it get the task done faster? Does it yield more results?
  • What is the quantitative, objective improvement from the perspective of the product? Is it faster? Does it do more of what users want?
Programming notes: this post is n in a series of indeterminate length on Product topics mainly for startup people, mainly leadership, mainly coming from non-GTM backgrounds.

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