Many people struggle to discover the "Minimum Viable Product" and thus miss the chance to get to the market earlier and faster than the competition. Hindered by internal biases, misconceptions and false expectations products are built that contain many superfluous or secondary features instead of delivering the core value first.

In this workshop we will uncover the barriers that prevent finding and building a "Minimum Viable Product" as well as get a feeling for what is "good enough".
And we'll do this not by looking at slides or discussing - we'll go hands-on with LEGO!

Expect to be challenged, expect to be surprised, expect to be amazed. Expect to have a lot of fun! :)

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

1. Workshop Introduction (2 min)

2. MVP Concept Introduction (5 min)

3. Building Iterations (25 min)

4. Reflection (10 min)

5. Closing (3 min)

Learning Outcome

Attendees will learn what "minimum viable" can really mean. They will feel the struggle to abstract and reduce the concept of a given product to the very core value. It will create a shared understanding of the concept of MVP and the value it will bring to the business. Also attendees will experience the value of using LEGO as a visualisation and learning device in product planning.

Target Audience

Product Owners, Developers

schedule Submitted 8 months ago

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  • David Hussman
    By David Hussman  ~  7 months ago
    reply Reply

    I am sorry to be late to comment about the session. I like some aspects, but I am not a big fan of lego based exercises when it comes to MVP. There are already many misconceptions that hint at MVP being overly focused on building and missing the point that it is about learning.

    I would want to see some significant changes that challenge people to focus on validated learning over building something small.

    • Matthias Seul
      By Matthias Seul  ~  7 months ago
      reply Reply

      Hi David,

      glad to have you in the discussion!

       

      One of the learning "aha"-Moments in the previous workshops was that the key to MVP is fast access to market to validate the core idea of the grander vision.
      The theme that I emphasize through the session is that the focus is on the core value, not "just small", to check if this can even survive the conditions of the market.
      In the wrap-up we will then reflect on how the product will evolve forward and discover that it will usually have very little to do with the initial "build with everything" model. We will then understand that this divergence is the result of fast, validated learning which was enabled by the MVP.


      For example in the materials for a race car to participate in an event on Mars (in the far-flung future of 2100) a mini figure is included.
      Many participants will have a light bulb go off when I tell them the core deliverable is a vehicle that can participate in a race in a low gravity environment.
      Nobody said anything about having a human driver on the vehicle.
      As soon as this milestone is crossed all teams will debate and extract what the key aspects of a race vehicle are and will build accordingly.

  • Tathagat Varma
    By Tathagat Varma  ~  7 months ago
    reply Reply

    The idea sounds interesting. While it might be a great pedagogical tool to help participants understand what is an MVP, I am trying to understand how do we help them relate to the work they are doing, say building a platform, or a B2B workflow solution, etc. It will be helpful (and needed, in my view) to be able to cull out key learnings from the LEGO exercise that could then be transferred back to people's work, irrespective of the domain. As we have seen, the construction or a building metaphor is not the best one when it comes to explaining principles of product architecture or software design, I am a bit concerned about the key takeaways in real-life problems, apart from the fun and the instructional value which is totally there. Since you have done this session before, what were the experiences in this regard?

    • Matthias Seul
      By Matthias Seul  ~  7 months ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Tathagat,

      the transfer can be split up into three domains:

       

      1. Converging on a shared vision of the MVP

      We have the learning of breaking down a complex idea (represented through the LEGO model) in several teams until the actual core value emerges. Due to the fact that we're using visual models all well as Storytelling to explore the product every iteration it will become clear how a true MVP feels. The point is usually reached after 4-5 iterations of reduction, after which each team arrives at near-identical models, even though their starting point was the same.

      Participants learn that unless there is unity in the vision, the true MVP has not been found.

       

      2. Beyond Viable - Learning when too little is too less

      The number of iterations and reductions is intentionally designed to push the participants to reduce too many parts as to make the product barely workable. While the outcome could still be somehow aligned with the goal it will not be delightful or "viable" anymore. The key takeway here is that "Viable" and "Minimum" go together and that there is a point where you can just deliver a half-baked experience.

      Participants will be able to feel what "too little" is and learn how to roll-back to a more agreeable state. Finding the balance between short time-to-market and customer delight.

       

      3. Understanding Early Pivoting vs. Futureproofing

      Participants will learn that their "MVP" will most likely deviate from their initial vision. They will also learn that building up form the MVP later might not result in rebuilding the original vision.

      The key takeaway here is that early feedback and learning, as well as fast entry into market will avoid wasteful spending into futureproofing a solution for a future that will never come. Either because the assumptions were wrong (they usually are) or new requirements trump the initial vision (this always happens). 

       

      We will spend time in the Q&A section after the building iterations to reflect on the learnings and reinforce the approach in backlog grooming, prioritization and story splitting/downsizing.

  • Karthik Kamal Balasubramaniam
    By Karthik Kamal Balasubramaniam  ~  7 months ago
    reply Reply

    Hi 

    Thanks for your proposal. I see that you have done this session in the past, could you please share a video link as well?

     

    Regards 

    • Matthias Seul
      By Matthias Seul  ~  7 months ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Karthik,

      most audiences (at least in Germany) do not like to be captured on videos, especially if they will be publicly shared.
      What I can offer is a few selected photos from previous workshops showcasing the crazy and inventive ideas people will come up to build a specific challenge.

      I have updated the session proposal with a small, shared photo album.

  • Shiv Sivaguru
    By Shiv Sivaguru  ~  7 months ago
    reply Reply

    Would the reflections cover Q&A related to application of concepts learnt in the participants' own situations?

    • Matthias Seul
      By Matthias Seul  ~  7 months ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Shiv,

      we will absolutely cover the direct application into the participants own products. In fact this question usually emerges during the building iterations.

      Areas also covered during the building iterations are over-designing and after-the-fact value-seeking (aka "Trying to accept sunk costs").

       

      The key questions to be covered here are:

      - How does it *feel* to design an MVP?

      - What patterns emerge if a clear understanding has been established between participants?

      - What makes MVP different from "half-baked"?

      and finally

      - How does this translate to a (software) project?

       

      One recent success of this method happened at the Agile Building Day (about a week ago).
      After the workshop two participants (both product owners in a company) were planning of re-aligning their backlog using this method as they had been missing an effective, creative way to uncover the true MVP. Both commented that this module was the key take-away for them.


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