Maximum Viable Product: Stop when it is best

Maximum Viable Product: Stop when it is best

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Maximum Viable Product: Stop when it is best

If you own a Mac and have been looking for a To-Do app at some point, I'm sure you have stumbled upon "Things", a ToDo-List app created by Cultured Code. It has won several awards and is recognized in the industry for its clean, joyful design. In contrast to industry trends, though, it changes at a glacial pace.

Yes, new features are sometimes introduced (often coinciding with new capabilities of the operating systems it runs on) or new platforms added (like WatchOS), but the very core of the app is remarkably consistent since it's "new" design 2017.

It's like someone has made the decision to simply say No to most new features.

Now open up the app store on your phone and look at the update section: How many of the apps that you see there said Yes to new feature a few too many times?

Recently, Clive Thompson brought back the idea of the Maximum Viable Product - the state that an app reaches it full potential:

What if more software firms decided, “Hey! We’ve reached the absolute perfect set of features. We’re done. This product is awesome. No need to keep on shoving in stuff nobody wants.”
Sure, this would have risks. Standing still risks becoming obsolete, as other competitors swoop in.
But it can also just mean you have confidence in your amazing design.

I think it is not only about confidence, though, but also about realizing what your users and customers really need.

Internally, this can be a hard sell: Would you rather work on a new feature or on maintenance? How do you signal progress to your management, if the product always looks the same in your slides? And don't you want your tool to be the "Swiss Army Knife" of products – handy whatever the situation calls for, however rare?

But by recognizing that products can have an optimal state of features and functions, we not only avoid layering on useless things and deteriorating the overall experience, but also open ourselves up for new opportunities outside that one product. What other problem could your team tackle? That is even more exciting to think about than just another feature that barely anyone uses.