In business launch processes, the “Minimum Viable Product” or MVP concept is powerful and useful. Unfortunately, misuse of the term “MVP” frequently creates confusion and distraction, wasting time and energy; these negative effects even hinder some projects’ forward progress or contribute to projects failing. To help solve this misuse problem, and the resulting confusion, I am introducing the concept of the “Minimum Useful Demo” or “MUD” in my programs.
A team uses a MUD even before they are ready to create an MVP. A MUD is neither “viable” nor is it necessarily a “product.” A MUD is the smallest / fastest / easiest to deploy (i.e. “minimum”) thing that a team – at the stage they have reached in their process – can use to test real live reactions to one or more aspects of the new product, service or business they hope to launch. A MUD might be a hand-drawn sketch, it might be a photo (edited or not), it might be a “looks like” mockup, it might be a video, it might even be a prototype. The MUD’s defining characteristic is its ability to communicate or illustrate (i.e. to “demonstrate”) what the product, service or business model to be launched is, or how it will work. A MUD is a communication tool, it is not something for sale.
My team and I have been testing this new terminology with participants in innovation accelerators for the past several months. After exposing about a hundred teams to the concept of the MUD, I have found that the results are very positive, especially in corporate environments. By removing the “P” and the “V,” we have freed teams from their existing mental baggage about what a “product” can be and what constitutes “viability,” allowing them to continue fast and iterative testing.
Tune back in for future posts where I will spell out more thoughts, details, and examples about the MUD, the role it plays, and how it is different from the MVP.
Continue reading the next blog: Why You Should Ditch Your VP (at Least for a While).