“MVP?” Your Name is “MUD”

In business launch processes, the “Minimum Viable Product” or MVP concept is powerful and useful. Unfortunately, misuse of the term “MVP” frequently creates confusion and distraction, wasting time and energy; these negative effects even hinder some projects’ forward progress or contribute to projects failing. To help solve this misuse problem, and the resulting confusion, I am introducing the concept of the “Minimum Useful Demo” or “MUD” in my programs.

A team uses a MUD even before they are ready to create an MVP. A MUD is neither “viable” nor is it necessarily a “product.” A MUD is the smallest / fastest / easiest to deploy (i.e. “minimum”) thing that a team – at the stage they have reached in their process – can use to test real live reactions to one or more aspects of the new product, service or business they hope to launch. A MUD might be a hand-drawn sketch, it might be a photo (edited or not), it might be a “looks like” mockup, it might be a video, it might even be a prototype. The MUD’s defining characteristic is its ability to communicate or illustrate (i.e. to “demonstrate”) what the product, service or business model to be launched is, or how it will work. A MUD is a communication tool, it is not something for sale.

My team and I have been testing this new terminology with participants in innovation accelerators for the past several months. After exposing about a hundred teams to the concept of the MUD, I have found that the results are very positive, especially in corporate environments. By removing the “P” and the “V,” we have freed teams from their existing mental baggage about what a “product” can be and what constitutes “viability,” allowing them to continue fast and iterative testing.

Tune back in for future posts where I will spell out more thoughts, details, and examples about the MUD, the role it plays, and how it is different from the MVP.

Continue reading the next blog: Why You Should Ditch Your VP (at Least for a While).