Tom Phillips

What do you learn from your MVP?

Minimum viable product (MVP) has become meaningless business jargon.

The problem with so-called MVPs is that no one learns anything from them. There is no hypothesis under test.

If your MVP doesn’t unambiguously validate or invalidate a hypothesis, then it’s impossible to know whether you are succeeding or failing.

What do you know about your customers? What problems do they have? How do they get value from your product? Will the answers to these questions change if you build the MVP? If they don’t change, then whatever you’re building is a waste of time and money, and it’s not an MVP.

In The Lean Startup (first published in 2011!), Eric Ries writes that an MVP completes one cycle of the build, measure, learn loop.

A hand drawn diagram showing the words build, measure, learn with connecting arrows to form a cycle. In the centre are the words "1 cycle = an MVP".

If we’re honest, most faux MVPs are just collective agreement on what is a barely acceptable use of everyone’s time. Something to keep people busy. A minimum tolerable output.

So next time someone says “it’s an MVP”, ask “what are we learning from it?”.