Category Archives: co-creation

The Better MVP: Why “Minimum Viable Products” Are Dead

The basic idea of a “minimum viable product” – popularized by Eric Ries and the Lean Startup movement – is good: Create just enough to validate that what you’re making meets a customer need. And it’s led to many hugely successful companies, like Dropbox and Zappos (more here by Vladimir Blagojevic).
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The problem we’ve seen is that “minimum viable product” can also lead to a product-centric mindset in which value to the customer takes a back seat to minimizing features. The dominant thinking is how little can we put in this product to be viable.

What’s the alternative? The intersection of “minimum viable product” and a different MVP we call “maximum value product” (others call it that too, like in this solid prezo by from Liquid Reality’s CEO Adam Smith).

“Maximum valuable product” is not about how many features you can pack into a new product. It is about how well can you solve whatever problem you’re addressing. That’s how you maximize value. The dominant thinking is not about how little, but how much; specifically how much of that particular problem you can solve for the customer.

The order and integration of the MVPs is critical. Here’s the 5 step sequence we recommend:

1) Maximum value: Start with the “maximum value product” perspective. Identify how much you value you can provide customers on a particular problem. Specify in details what aspects of the problem you’re solving, what benefit is created, and how important each is to customers.

2) Value validation: Validate with customers the meaningfulness of the problem you’re solving and have them rank order the importance of the benefits your product can provide.

3) Features: Make a list of what technology or features are needed for customers to experience each benefit and its value. Be sure to include low tech and high tech possibilities. Align features with the ranked benefits.

4) Minimum viability: Now bring in the Minimum Viable Product approach to decide what it will take to provide the required  features. Start with the features needed to deliver the most highly ranked benefit, then continue down the list. Think about trade-offs like this:

Option A: Do a good job at providing for the most important benefit, so that you’ll have enough resources to also provide for the second most important benefit.

Option B: Do a great job at providing for the most important benefit. Pour all your resources into that, and come back to the second most important benefit later.

5) Viability validation: Use lean and agile research techniques to get customer feedback on option A vs. Option B. Now you’re ready to take something to early adopters that has the optimal balance of providing value to customers and being viable to make.

Please share your experience with MVP vs. MVP!

Fear or Love: Which Drives Your Business Decisions?

John Lennon famously said, “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance.”

Some of our consulting engagements are with med tech and health IT companies that have created a culture of fear.  They don’t say so. But it’s evident in how employees are treated, how customers are viewed, and most clearly in how decisions are made.

We try to help them move away from fear and toward love- even if we usually don’t say so (my fear??). The main way we do this is by putting the customer first. This enables people to let go of the need to magically know what products to make and how to market them effectively and instead co-create the necessary understanding together with their customers. The process, when done well, is as humbling as it is empowering.

Do you work from fear or love? Can you imagine loving your customers? What would change if you did?

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More posts on how compassion is good business:

The Painful Cost of Disruptive Innovation: Uber & Cancer?

Introducing Compassionate Nonviolent Marketing: A New Paradigm

Co-Creation: Beware Asking Too Much of Customers

I am a strong proponent of co-creation. My consulting firm ResearchWorks does a lot of co-creation projects focused on product innovation and marketing in the health space. Done right, co-creation can be a very powerful, customer-centric way of growing a business.
However, co-creation can also lead to a harmful abdication of responsibility.  This happens when companies expect customers to essentially design products or invent solutions, or to create marketing messages. Not their expertise, not their job.
Identifying solutions and designing products and services is the responsibility of the product manager or program manager. Creating effective messaging is the job of marketing and communication professionals. However, customers can play a major co-creative role and inspire tremendous change when they’re engaged in the right ways and at the right time.
We advise clients to keep customers as co-creators in the space of their experience and what they can validly do – identifying meaningful problems and unmet needs, envisioning what a better situation would look and feel like, and reacting to and improving upon products and messaging we present to them.
Those are ways customers can meaningfully co-create in order to inspire better products and services that benefit all stakeholders.