Today I went on a long walk and had some great time to think. During my walk I thought out how an MVP mindset could be used at other levels within software development.

In an agile environment we often talk about doing development using an MVP (minimum viable product) mentality. We refer to the much used example by Henrik Kniberg and turned into a video by The CRM Team found here: . In the video example the customer requests that a car be built, but the team begins by delivering a skateboard. The idea is that for each iteration the team delivers an incrementally more complex vehicle, but always a workable vehicle. Between iterations the team receives feedback from the customer to inspect and adapt. While the customer asked for a car, it may very well be that one of the iterations will be just enough for them.

This approach focuses on two key principles: iterative development and delivering just enough.

When a team tackles a large project with an MVP mindset, the dev team works with the product owner to determine which stories should be combined to get to the first iteration. Again, the iteration is a functional product.

What I thought of during my walk was how MVP thinking should also be considered at a lower level. Let’s say that one of the pieces of the overall delivery is to build a wheel. We don’t need to begin by building everything the customer asked for in a wheel. Rather, just like in the car example, we think about several iterations, all of them fully functional deliveries. I often like to think about this in thirds. What can you build that will meet the highest value requirements in a small delivery first. The customer’s feedback helps us to adapt and determine if we have just enough. If we aren’t there yet, we build a second iteration that builds on the first and delivers somewhere around 50 – 60% of the complete functionality the customer asked for. After each of the iterations, we evaluate if we have delivered just enough. Ultimately we may find that the first or second iteration reaches this level. Or, if not, we move to the third iteration that builds on the second and add the remaining requirements.

This example of the wheel follows the same pattern as the larger vehicle MVP model, but more at the story level. As a team can continue to think of ways to use this MVP mindset in all that they do, they will fine more and more success as they deliver just enough of what the customer needs to deliver the highest value and not necessarily what they originally asked for.