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3 New Ways To Think About MVP

3 New Ways to Think About MVP

A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is the response to the question, ‘What is the smallest thing we can build to create the most value?” This sends the product team on a virtuous mission to discover the true value of their offering.

Unfortunately, though digital product leaders like Steve Blank, Marty Cagan and Eric Ries have championed awareness of the MVP concept, many teams still get it wrong by:

  • Sneaking features into the MVP because they can, not because they should
  • Not considering the full spectrum of viability (technical, financial, operational, physical, emotional, etc.)
  • Creating imbalanced experiences with regard to usability, value and feasibility

 These mistakes complicate development before the product has gotten off the ground, leading to costly wastes of time, money and morale.

But leading product thinkers continue to emerge and educate others on new models and applications on the MVP concept. Here are 3 new ways to think differently about MVP.


1) The Full Stack MVP – Jussi Pasanen (@jopas), inspired by Ben Tollady and Ben Rowe’s presentation, “Can you Wireframe Delight?


Why we like it

By allocating resources for an MVP scope up the entire stack, instead of spending the allocation exclusively across the functional range, product teams can more quickly prove that they can build something users love (or not).

They can also establish critical initial feedback loops by appealing to emotionality from the onset.

How to use it

If your project’s initial release is starting to feel boring or too big, this model can help steer attention towards non-functional ranges to help ensure quality and user appeal. It can also help to illustrate why users’ perceptions of the quality of release are not favorable.


 2) Skateboards, not Wheels – Henrik Kniberg (@henrikkniberg)

Minimum Viable Product

Why we like it

Both approaches share a common vision: a car. But the methods taken to realize the vision are vastly different. If the problem is transportation, and you were given a wheel as a solution, how far could you travel? 

Contrast this to the skateboard: it’s a far cry from the final vision, but it serves an effective way to get from point A to point B. More importantly, customers are using your product much sooner than later.

How to use it

Bet the garden, and not the farm. By starting small, the skateboard’s team can get the kind of actionable feedback to determine the next leg of the product journey towards the final vision. Scale back your initial offering if you find your team producing components of an experience that don’t hold up on their own. Commit to a cycle of Build -> Measure -> Learn, and you’ll see a much faster path to generating customer delight from your product.


 3) The Minimum Loveable Product – Spook Studios


Why we like it

A plain vanilla pound cake is one way to solve your basic need for food. But by scaling back on the meal-sized cake, and instead offering customers the chance to devour a snack depicting an iconic puppet mid-bite on a cookie, the offering transforms from unremarkable product into an experience not soon forgotten.

How to use it

GoKart Labs’ own Matt Johnson (@mcjohnson) also argues that we should replace “Viable” with “Loveable.” As experiences become more valuable as market differentiators, MJ and the rest of us at GoKart encourage teams to do less, better.

Kicking off a new product development effort can be a daunting task. But Minimally Viable Product approach can help teams get started on the right foot. When it comes to defining your own MVP, make sure it isn’t just functional, but also usable, reliable and emotionally appealing.



Provide your customers ample opportunities for finding love of your product throughout the entire development lifecycle, and they will help you prove this value along the way. This approach has worked for some incredibly successful companies, and we think it can help you, too.


GoKart is a digital invention & growth lab named one of Inc’s Fastest Growing Private Companies in America.

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This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. This is inspiring–even though we aren’t building products for commercialization, we are building custom things for clients. This article bridged a concept that I hadn’t thought of applying to our work before.

    1. Joyce, I definitely share your excitement for these emergent perspectives on MVPs. There is no such thing as too much understanding around Minimally Viable Products.

      The word Product can deter some teams from trying to use the MVP approach because of the, “but we don’t make products,” mindset. But even if it’s not a consumer facing product, it’s still a solid method for reducing waste and accelerating learning. Let us know how you are able to apply some of these concepts going forward.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Richard, thanks for reading. It’s great to hear that the article put you in a better position to help carry the MVP torch at your own organization.

    We’d love to know specifically which two ways your understanding of MVPs was enhanced. Please let us know, if you get a chance!

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