Great post by Seth Godin this morning on “When minimum viable product doesn’t work.” I had also recently written a similar post on how minimum viable is largely a capital conservation strategy that benefits the investors more than the entrepreneurs:
We live in a world that has learned to embrace and even worship the notion of a “minimum viable product,” not products that are the best that we can do. This is done for risk mitigation reasons. We are concerned that we may not know what’s best, we need to get feedback, and we need to move cautiously rather than boldly. It’s born of a desire to conserve capital and to raise capital. Capital, in many ways, has trumped Vision, Passion, and Products. Venture capital is hard to come by for Vision. They’ve been burned too many times, and it is too hard to identify Visionaries. It’s easier to fund traction. Let the markets decide. Let the people decide. It’s democratic. It’s safer. But it will never produce Insanely Great the way Steve Jobs has.
Seth always has a great way to turn things on their head and look at them sideways to derive great insights. In this case, Godin’s point has more to do with whether you can sustain the creative energy long enough in the face of repeatedly shipping something in the name of “minimum viable” that doesn’t quite get to critical mass. His central point is that Marketing just doesn’t work like Engineering.
He’s right, as usual.