To the point. a recipe for creating lean products. Paulo Caroli. This book is for sale at

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2 To the point a recipe for creating lean products Paulo Caroli This book is for sale at This version was published on This is a Leanpub book. Leanpub empowers authors and publishers with the Lean Publishing process. Lean Publishing is the act of publishing an in-progress ebook using lightweight tools and many iterations to get reader feedback, pivot until you have the right book and build traction once you do Paulo Caroli

3 Contents Minimum Viable Product Origin MVP enhancement Small hypothesis, great businesses A sample MVP evolution plan Product Writing the Product Vision The product Is Is not Does Does not Clearing the objective Understanding trade-offs

4 Minimum Viable Product Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is the simpler version of a product that can be available to validate a small set of assumptions on the business. Basically, you don t want to waste time, money and effort building a product that won t attend your expectations. For that reason, you need to understand and validate the hypothesis about the business. MVP helps to validate and learn the fastest way. Different from products created using the traditional way, usually taking too much time and effort on prototyping, analysis and elaboration, the goal of MVP is only to validate the first step, the minimum product, far less elaborated than the final version. MVP focuses on the minimum but viable product to verify if the direction is correct. The initial set of functionality needed for hypothesis validation and for learning more about the business. Origin The idea of MVP is originally connected to the ideas that became popular with the Toyota s lean manufacture style ¹ ² ³. Steve Blank, an entrepreneur from Silicon Valley, created a methodology ⁴ based on client development. That was the beginning of the Lean Startup movement, which hit its apex with Eric Ries and his book ⁵ named ¹Womack, James P.; Daniel T. Jones, and Daniel Roos. (1990) The Machine That Changed the World. ²Ohno, Taiichi. (1988) Toyota Production System. Productivity Press ³Womack, James P.; Daniel T. Jones. (2003) Lean Thinking. Free Press. ⁴Blank, Steve G. (2006) The four steps to the epiphany: successful strategies for products that win. ⁵Ries, Eric. (2011) The Lean Startup: How Today s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses. Crown Publishing.

5 Minimum Viable Product 2 after the movement. While Eric Ries turned MVP popular since the publication of his book Lean StartUp, the expression was in use for many years before the movement came to life, especially amongst startups with their entrepreneurs and stakeholders from Silicon Valley. The expression minimum viable product came up for the first time in 2000 in a Willian Junk s ⁶ article, The Dynamic Balance Between Cost, Schedule, Features, and Quality in Software Development Projects, Computer Science. MVP enhancement MVP does not mean that the product won t evolve and enhance its features. On the contrary, the idea behind MVP is the product enhancement guided by proven hypothesis validation. Course correction or confirmation is what is going to guide the following enhancements. These enhancements are MVP: new minimum products added to the minimum products already validated. Once more, minimum products but viable to make decisions about the product evolution. The product now is elaborated, maybe with a bigger user database, allowing the validation of hypothesis even more elaborated. It is very important to comprehend that the MPV promotes an evolutionary creation. Ergo, the architecture as well as the building tools of the product must allow this continuous and progressive evolutionary feature. In 2010, Jez Humble and David Farley published the book Continuous Delivery ⁷. In this book the authors discuss a fast and ⁶Willian, S. Junk. (2000) The Dynamic Balance Between Cost, Schedule, Features, and Quality in Software Development Projects, Computer Science Dept., University of Idaho, SEPM-001. ⁷Jez Humble and David Farley. (2010) Continuous Delivery, Addison-Wesley.

6 Minimum Viable Product 3 low-cost delivery process, allowing the incremental creation of software products. They define Continuous Delivery as a discipline of software development that promotes quicker and more frequent deliveries. In spite Continuous Delivery goes on details about software products and the workflow for its creation, the essential idea of continuous delivery is the same that Eric Ries recommends on Lean Startup: fast cycles to validate hypothesis. Fast and frequent cycles, allowing very short liberation periods and low costs of experimentation. But it s not easy to implement this kind of approach. And the creators of MVP products are going to need different structures and practices from those used traditionally in products with a slow cycle. This book focuses on analysis and effective planning activities based on MVP. Continuous Delivery is the bible if you want to understand the necessary tools to software products creation and evolution. But even more, the techniques and the learnings shared by the authors of Continuous Delivery are being applied for other kinds of products, not only software products. The same apply for this book. Small hypothesis, great businesses The product is built incrementally, with recently created MVPs being added to the existent solid product. With MVP enhancements, the continuous and incremental delivery provides the increase of value of the product through time, while the creation process for traditional products does not provide any value up to the end, when the product is ready in its whole.

7 Minimum Viable Product 4 Do you need to get taller? Would you step up for that? Do you need to get taller? Would you step up once more for that? Do you need to get taller? Would you step up once more for that?

8 Minimum Viable Product 5 Do you need to get taller? Can you wait for an elevator to be built? Final result: to go up, use the stairs or the elevator. This picture sequence shows how MVP offers small validations in the long run, while the more traditional style to product creation only offer validation of the whole in the end. But please do not get caught in this example, because real products are not as simple as one step to another relatively similar. The following image offers another example of MVP: the MVP for crossing a river. A simple solution to crossing a small stream is to lay a wooden beam across it. And it makes a great MVP. Besides allowing a small stream of a river to be crossed, it is a simple way to validate the location for building the bridge. Perhaps lay more than one wooden beam on different locations, and validate which one will have more usage.

9 Minimum Viable Product 6 A very simple bridge MVP promotes an incremental approach in which only a small part of the general hypothesis are treated at the same time. Each one of these hypotheses is designed, created, and prepared to be added to the product, in order to generate useful data to its own decisionmaking, learning and validation. In essence, an idea (or great business hypotheses) is sequenced in a series of small, simpler and, ergo, easier to understand hypotheses. The outcome is: the simpler hypotheses are more quickly elaborated, and get available in the product for the final user. For instance: if there was a bridge in this place, how many pedestrians would use it in a week? In this case, the final user (or who validates the MVP) provides data for validating the enhancement of the product. This validation is essential for two reasons: (1) corrections and changes can be made in an initial stage of the product, instead of only appearing in the end of conception, reducing the product s risk; (2) the analysis complexity of the hypotheses is reduced. The product s creators and final users have early access to something functional and viable. Thus, the decision of the next steps and increments of the product are based on the product itself, instead of being hypotheses about other hypotheses. And this work pattern in small enhancements of

10 7 Minimum Viable Product the products and its hypothesis allows building products much more elaborated, with small steps but very well-founded. A sample MVP evolution plan The product is built incrementally, with newly created MVPs being added to consolidated existing product. The last released MVP has a positive result. Then the team follows the MVP evolution plan creating the next set of features for the next MVP release. MVPs for grass grooming This figure shows how MVP offers small validations over time, while more traditional product creation only validates the final product. Traditional product would focus on the final version, for example, the nice lawn mower (MVP 8) on the button right of the figure. The shears is the first MVP. Is there any grass to cut? Is there anyone to handle a simple grass cutting apparatus? The validation of these hypotheses drives the evolution of the product to the next MVP. Perhaps, something more convenient: a grass cutting apparatus with a cable. How about adding wheels to it? And so forth evolving the product from MVP to MVP.

11 Minimum Viable Product 8 The most important and valuable feedback is a negative answer. Is there any grass to cut? No. In such case, the shears will not be used. By the way, a nice and expensive lawn mower wouldn t be used as well. Your hypothesis is false, so a fully evolved product would have been a big waste of time, and money! This example illustrates how MVP promotes an incremental approach in which only a small part of a more comprehensive idea is treated at the same time. Each of these MVPs are designed, created and prepared to be added to the product, adding more (validated) functionality to it. In essence, an idea of product is sequenced in a series of smaller validations, and therefore easier to understand, create and account for. And it is worth remembering that fortunately software products is not manufacturing. In the software world, a lawn mower can be created by adding wheels, engine and a cable to a simple shears.

12 Product With a good understanding of the product vision, you can set which and how the first pieces of your business puzzle are going to gather up. You must decide on over which product feature the initial path is going to be traced, and which is going to be your strategy. understanding the business puzzle Writing the Product Vision Somewhere between the idea and the launching, the vision of the product helps to trace the initial path. It defines the essence of your business value and must reflect a clear and convincing message to its clients. This activity will help you to define collaboratively the vision of the product.

13 Product 10. For [final client], whose [problem that needs to be solved], the [name of the product] is a [product category] that [key-benefits, reason to buy it]. Different from [competition alternative], our product [key-difference]. Template The vision of the product, describe in the book Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers, by Geoffrey A. Moore (1999). Activity step by step 1. Write the template vision of the product in a white board or flipchart in a visible way for the whole team. 2. Divide the team in smaller groups and ask to each one to fill a blank separately (or more, depending on the size of the team). 3. Gather the result of each group, forming a unique sentence.

14 Product 11 vision of the product example 1 vision of the product example 2 In this activity it is very common that the result is a senseless sentence. Ergo, after executing the third step, it is important that

15 Product 12 the team works together to form a homogeneous sentence, using and altering the previous results, if necessary. The product Is Is not Does Does not The activity * Is Is not Does Does not * helps to define a product. Sometimes, it s easier to describe something by telling what this thing is not or does not. This activity seeks for explaining this way, asking specifically each positive and negative aspect about the product and what it is or what it does. Activity step by step: 1. Divide a white canvas or flipchart in four areas (Is / Is not / Does / Does not). 2. Write the name of the product above the quadrants. 3. Ask to each participant to describe the product, on post-its and putting them on the correspondent areas. 4. Read and group the similar notes. The product is The product is not The product does The product does not.

16 Product 13 an example of result

17 Product 14 another example of result This activity helps to explain the product. Typically, after such activity the participants will have a more consensual view regarding what the product does as well as what the product doesn t do. Strategic decisions can be clarified, such as this thing the product will never do, while that other one it still wouldn t do. Clearing the objective Each team member must share what is his/her understanding of an objective for those who use the product, and the several points of view must be discussed in order to reach a consensus on what is really important. This activity helps raising and clearing these objectives. Activity step by step

18 Product Ask each team member to write, individually, three answers to the following question: If you had to define this product with three goals for its users, which would they be? 2. Ask the participants to share what they wrote in a common canvas, grouping them by similarity. 3. Ask the team to re-write the goal, now collectively. By this time, it will be clear that some of the goals listed do not really represent the objectives of the product, and must be discarded. This way it will be clear to the team what is the focus of the product. Hereafter, a sequence of two pictures of steps 2 and 3. In the first picture, the goals are grouped by similarity. In the second one, the goals are re-written (in pink post-its). Notice that some goals were discarded (in the upper right corner). grouped objective

19 Product 16 re-written objective Understanding trade-offs Trade-off is a trade in which you let go something in order to get another one you want more. A lean product reflects decisions of the team regarding trade-offs. The activity Understanding trade-offs helps building and recording a common understanding about trade-offs of the lean product. Many decisions and conversations are based on individual visions and premises between choices. Some examples: what is most valuable: security or usability? And what about performance and security? And usability and performance? This activity promotes an open and collaborative conversation on trade-offs. Clearer tradeoffs avoid misunderstandings and help to make decisions quickly.

20 Product 17 Activity step by step: result example trade-offs of lean product 1. Describe all categories that are relevant to the product in post-its (for instance: security, usability, scalability). 2. Put the categories in the white board or in the flipchart as line titles. Next, draw an horizontal line to each category. 3. Draw vertical lines (the same number of horizontal lines). Write more (important) above the leftmost line and less above the rightmost line. 4. Ask participants to mark their initials in several post-its and put one post-it on each line. The restriction: each column must contain a post-it with your initials (for example: only one of the categories will be marked as more important). 5. Equalize the trade-offs. With a post-it with different color (green post-its in the photo), set the marks to each category, from less to more important. This mark should be relatively easy since it considers the post-its with the votes of everyone.

21 Product 18 another example of outcome trade-offs of the lean product

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