Give a minimum of love to products

Give a minimum of love to products

Nine years ago, Eric Ries published “The Lean Startup.” A global publishing phenomenon translated into several languages. The method described there, now established as a dogma, has infused all Tech scenes and all ecosystems. There are the “5 Why's” and Continuous Improvement directly taken from “Lean Manufacturing.” There is also the concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This embryonic version of a barely developed product that should be launched immediately on pain of being overtaken by the competition. What if the Minimum and the Viable alone were no longer sufficient?

The world of start-ups also has its cosmogony. His mythology. The Parents' Garage as a place of all possibilities. The Manifesto of a Hidden God Promising a Decentralized World. Without banks. Without a government to spin the infamous billboard. Satoshi Nakamoto. Jobs. Gates. Zuck. Musk. Page & Strand.

Apostles of a new Gospel. New Commandments. Engraved in PHP on the frontispiece of the Silicon Vatican. "Move fast and break things. "If the product you ship is perfect then you’ve released too late." In good French, the best is the enemy of good. And no omelet possible without breaking a few eggs. Quotes surrounding the papillotes opened during the holidays. Aphorisms as simple as expeditious. But not enough to prevent some from going to seek hermeneutics at Y Combinator in the United States. Or The Family in France. These shovel and pickaxe sellers taking advantage of a new gold fever. That of entrepreneurship. Feeding on the back of the beast. That of the entrepreneur-gold panner. Perclusives aches. Worn out by his dreams. Sifting mud from morning to night. And collecting one by one the gold straws which he hopes to make, one day, an ingot.

Y Combinator and The Family first teach him what an MVP is. A Minimum Viable Product. This parched and functional version of a technology used only to test the market. And too bad if this MVP is ugly. Too bad if it is light years away from a perfect and stabilized version. So much the better if it only works halfway. All that matters is to throw. Quickly. And iterate. Again and again. Until nausea. All that matters is finding the right dosage. The one who will transform the adoption curve into an asymptote. Expanding the circle of users beyond the basic geek. And give green to its performance indicators to parade better in front of investors. And quietly raise the stakes.

Say like that, it's beautiful. Say like that, it's tempting. Y Combinator and The Family pick up their checks. And the entrepreneur his rheumatism. Unable to place the cursor on what "minimum" and "viable" mean in his case.

An MVP for autonomous cars? Kill less than one passerby per month.

MVP for revolutionary diabetes treatment? Avoid killing too many vital organs during the tests.

John Maeda’s latest book is against this doxa. Inviting entrepreneurs to accept that the beta testers of today are no longer those of yesterday. That their tolerance for the discomfort of poor UX has frayed. And they're no longer just geeks looking to travel from point A to point B. Most of them got a taste for candy and the iPhone charger during their Uber ride. And kind words. And air conditioning too.

John Maeda proposes a new acronym to respond to this new reality. The MVLP. The Minimum Viable and Lovable Product. And all the difference is in the Lovable. Making the first version of your product highly desirable is no longer superfluous. It’s even essential. Its design can no longer be the prerogative of engineers trapped in their ivory towers. You have to let the Art Directors go up there. The sales people too.

And drop the Beatles' let it be for "All you need is love"


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