There are many things wrong with the concept of “MVP = Minimum Viable Product”. I suggest we change it for “Minimum Valuable Process”

I’m not referring to HBO’s pilot episode of the excellent show Silicon Valley. MVP as Minimum Viable Product has been around for a while. According to Wikipedia, the term was coined and defined in 2001 by Frank Robinson and then popularized by Steve Blank and Eric Ries.

But here’s why it not only doesn’t work but it’s also dangerous:

  • Minimum and Viable refer to the same thing: “barely works”. Not only it’s grammatically sloppy, but it advocates for dangerous precariousness.
  • Who cares if something is “Viable”? What customers care about is that it’s “Valuable” to them.
  • You shouldn’t call something that “barely works” a “Product”. It’s an experiment, a step in the direction of a product.
  • MVP as Minimum Viable Product means to emphasize speed. Go to market quick so you can learn from your mistakes an iterate. But that is not captured in those three words. Yet, using the word “Process” does capture the essence of iteration, of learning.

As such, I recommend that MVP is from now on correctly defined as Minimum Valuable Process.