Satalyst Brilliance on 17 Sep 2016

The Paradox of the Full-featured MVP

The Minimum Viable Product – MVP

I recently encountered the phrase, “full-featured MVP”. Is there such a thing as a full-featured MVP?  Or is this the ultimate paradox in product development?

What is a minimum viable product?

The term Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is defined by Eric Ries as, “that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated customer learning with the least effort.”

It all starts with an idea – an idea for a product that you think people want. The fundamental question we need an answer to (and quickly), is whether a sustainable business can be built around the product idea? The answer to this question is derived from a number of underlying questions, including, but certainly not limited to:-

  • What do the target customers really want?
  • When do the target customers want it?
  • Are the target customers prepared to pay for it?
  • How much are the target customers prepared to pay for it?

One approach to eliminating uncertainty fast, is to build a minimum viable product and start the learning cycle quickly.

How do I determine the scope of a minimum viable product?

A minimum viable product by itself is not a complete product. It is however, essential for a MPV to deliver customer value. Insufficient customer value in the early stages leads to a compromised final product that nobody wants to use.

Gold-plated, highly polished products with all the bells and whistles are expensive and time-consuming to develop. And, if they don’t offer enough customer value, they will be a costly failure. With the MVP approach, you build just enough features to measure impact and effectiveness and apply learnings in the next iteration of product development. Fail fast and learn fast, and lower the risk through the development cycle.


A number of techniques exist for deriving the scope of your minimum viable product. The scope and complexity of the product idea make some techniques more appropriate than others. Some techniques Satalyst successfully utilises to derive the MVP scope include impact mapping, value proposition canvasses, story mapping and walking skeletons, and prototyping.

Isn’t a full-featured MVP then a contradiction in terms?

Yes it is.  Unless the product idea is a once-off-solve-a-problem-and-move-on idea, we advocate a lean approach to product development. Only build enough features, i.e. a minimum viable product, to deliver customer value. You get to market faster, reduce risk and cost, and finish with a completed product that is fully adopted and successful.

Need help?

Do you have a great idea and need help to derive the first minimum viable product and subsequent product increments?

Satalyst can help

Want to talk to someone with proven experience in helping customers successfully transform ideas into products? Someone who can talk about business outcomes rather than just technology?

Please contact us to discuss how you can successfully take your product idea to market within your budget and time constraints.

Contact  |  +61 (0) 8 9355 2807