Is Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Strategy the Right Approach for Digital Transformation

I suspect Digital Transformation is at the top of the minds of executives of established organizations based on the number of blog posts (including this one), pithy tweets, dense infographics and ponderous white papers that I see these days. The Chief Digital Officer role may eventually prove faddish, but the theme itself will be a constant source of anxiety. The anxiety is primarily because of the occasional forays into various industries by the “Disruption Posse”. The Disruption Posse is made up of Amazon, Alphabet and Apple.

This anxiety is causing established organizations to create new business units, anoint digital czars and to throw a cool billion dollars for a true garage startup and everything in between. Usually Digital Transformation projects are nothing more than forward looking bets on how future might unfold and usually entails the following

  • New marketing techniques
  • New types of customer engagement, support and service
  • New ways to support commerce
  • New products
  • New supply chain and manufacturing strategies

And they can leverage advances and changing societal norms from any of the following

  • Robotics
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Synthetic Biology / Genomics
  • Internet of Things
  • Cloud
  • Mobile and Social
  • etc.

What is unique about these types of projects is that there is a cloud of uncertainty in terms of what works, how things should be designed, what is effective and user adoption. These are the same questions that entrepreneurs and new product development teams have to answer when developing and introducing new products.

During their time working in the Silicon Valley, Frank Robinson, Steve Blank and Eric Ries discovered a pattern of product development that they called many names, including Lean Startup, Customer Discovery and Minimum Viable Product (MVP). The pioneering MVP approach put forth by SyncDev is perfectly suited for Digital Transformation. Some highlights from the SyncDev’s MVP philosophy below

Too large or too small a product (project) are big problems. The MVP is the difficult-to-determine sweet spot between them.
MVP is a mindset of the management and development-team. It says, think big for the long term but small for the short term. Think big enough that the first product is a sound launching pad for it and its next generation and the roadmap that follows, but not so small that you leave room for a competitor to get the jump on you.
The notion of MVP doesn’t stop at product. Ask, ‘What is minimum viable…” anything and you’ll discover that it applies to most business-model decisions, not just product: market segments, customers, services, channels, promotion, and more.

You can see from SyncDev’s website that many companies successfully launched transformational products using MVP approach. If your organization’s Digital Transformation efforts are going to primarily rely on homegrown innovation as opposed to buying startups, my recommendation would be that your organization should promote and become good at MVP approach.

Kris Gorrepati

My 2 cents on Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing, Design, New Product Development, Software Engineering, and related topics.

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