MVPs and the cringe

There’s a great quote that says something to the tune of – “If you don’t cringe when you see the first version of your product (or your minimum viable product / MVP), you shipped too late.”

While this quote talks about start-up products, I would generalize and expand it to a much larger group. For example, I’d say the same about behavior, habits and philosophy.

Just yesterday, I had an MVP reflection moment that made me cringe. I stay in touch with people I’ve gotten to know and, in some cases, just met via the 200 words project. For a lot of people, the weekly email digest idea works really well. It has worked wonderfully for me as it forces me to synthesize lessons from books/articles I read. Also, there is something wonderful about a serendipitous email exchange with someone I’d lost touch with.

When I just started this process 7 years ago, I used to be generally add most folk I’d met on the list – instead of a goodbye, it’d be in the spirit of staying in touch. While this was occasionally nice when there was a real connection, there were cases when it really was overkill. I cringe every time I think of some of those additions to this least. Gradually, I became much more conservative in adding people to the list. However, for the longest time, I still largely had people opt out. Such a bad idea. Things finally came to a head 2 years back when I signed up a group of folk all together. I just felt horrible doing it and I decided I would shift to 100% opt in.

Every time I think of these decisions/moments, they make me cringe. But, I also realize that I wouldn’t have given these things any thought if I hadn’t gotten started in the first place. We owe it to ourselves to give ourselves the permission to learn and get better.

And, that can only happen if we’re willing to ship a product that is consistently work-in-progress. As novel as that might sound, it really isn’t. After all, we “ship” the current version of ourselves every day… and, if that isn’t an example of the quintessential work-in-progress product, I don’t know what is.

Cringe, MVPs, products(Talking about cringe worthy MVPs, I the first version of Amazon’s website. So glad Jeff and team just shipped and got better, relentlessly.)

3 thoughts on “MVPs and the cringe

  1. Speaking of MVPs, and your propensity to use/appreciate good visuals, I really liked this one Vala Afshar shared on Twitter on Saturday.

    Certainly, some MVP’s don’t achieve this and it’s about shipping and then iterating, but a good illustration nonetheless.

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