What Is Your MVP?

Not every version of you requires a big release. Take the more incremental approach.

“Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished? Yes, work never begun.” — Christina Rossetti

You are a work in progress. Unfinished. But have you truly started?

A minimum viable product (MVP) contains the smallest set of features necessary to test with early customers and receive valuable feedback. You defer risk with a small set of the highest value features to prove the product’s worth before developing the complete set of features.

You can apply the MVP concept to yourself.

There is a tendency to complete every feature of the new, improved you before unveiling what you have to offer to the world. But working in isolation away from the feedback of others is incredibly risky and prone to failure.

In the face of big change, many of us decide to stay in maintenance mode and never upgrade to the next version. Like an old software program, we fall behind and ultimately require a full rewrite. Those rewrites represent times of crises.

There is a better way.

The next version need only be an MVP, a few high value features you develop and test with the world. You get feedback and then iterate. Instead of one giant release, you go for many mini-releases.

Think of it as “building in public.” You try one or more things out and then listen carefully for feedback. Jack Butcher advises us to “make noise, listen for signal.”

It works like this:

  • Take a small, experimental step.

  • Release your work to the public.

  • Listen intently for feedback. Gather data.

  • When something resonates, a spike in signal occurs.

  • You then double down on what produces the spike.

Do this and the next version of you is simply a series of small, low-risk steps. With each step you take, the next version becomes clearer. It solidifies.

And then you realize there is no next version.

You keep making small changes, constantly improving, sharpening and refining. Each step provides incrementally more value and satisfaction. There is no longer a need for the big, splashy release.

You are always a work in progress, testing new features and evolving one increment at a time. Just be sure to start.