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Effective First, Then Efficient

Updated: Oct 21, 2019

Defining the Minimally Viable Product – MVP – is brilliant guidance, and a dangerous crutch. As with most things, perspective is everything.


Working backwards, the “P” is self-evident and poses little question. Product – it’s that which is being created to be introduced. It could be tangible or intangible, but it is the work in progress. Simple.


Simplicity, however, ends there. It’s not that the words are overly complex.

Viable -- having the ability to grow, expand, develop, etc.:

Minimum – least possible

In combination, then, MVP is the least possible evolution of our work in progress, which is able to grow, expand and develop. The combination of words is not overly complex.

The complexity, however, is a function of who is defining MVP.


Let’s take a hypothetical software project – adding functionality for a CRM tool. No specifics are needed – one need only view the world from the perspective of the various players. To wit:

· The Executive sponsor wants the smallest body of work that will generate the targeted business value

· The subject matter experts from the business want the smallest degree of effort and change to their current processes, while still satisfying the sentiment of the sponsor

· The delivery team wants the smallest body of work which can be deployed, is testable, and addresses the requirements

All parties can talk about MVP – and be talking about something that is not at all the same. Small wonder, then, that projects fail as often as they do.


Rule 1: Ensure a global understanding of the why (desired outcomes) and the what (business capabilities being improved) behind the change. The other players are confined to the “how”. To be successful, the how must follow and support both the why and what.


Rule 2: Unless your project is has lives at risk (think NASA, operating room, medical devices, etc) strongly favor that which is believed to deliver an effective outcome at the expense of being able to execute efficiently. Your understanding as to what contributes to being truly effective will improve with time. Until then, effective beats efficient every time.


Both of these rules are made substantially easier with business architecture as a foundation.


We can help.


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