If you live and work in the tech world, then "lean" or "agile" just might have been your first words.

Every meetup, conference, and startup in a 50 mile radius is talking about what it means to be a lean startup, and I have to say it’s been a great improvement over old-fashioned waterfall workflows. Unfortunately, another phrase that goes hand-in-hand with the lean/agile movement is the ever-present concept of the "MVP", otherwise known as the Minimum Viable Product.

In theory it's a great idea - inputting the minimum amount of time necessary to validate a product/feature - but like many great ideas it seems to be frequently bastardized in practice and reinterpreted as what I like to call MVPOS, or Minimum Viable Piece of Shit.

Yes, I understand you want to move quickly; and yes, I do think you should be doing the minimum amount necessary to validate your idea. However, that is no excuse for it to look and function terribly (or not function at all). Save time on things that don't scale [1] long-term but can be manually processed for the purposes of testing, but don't cut corners on the things that directly affect the end-users' perceivable quality of your product.

Short of some weekend hackathon you did with your buddies or an internal tool your company uses that took off unexpectedly, every feature of any product you intend to sell or monetize should strive to be as polished as reasonably possible and function just as your end-user expects it should. Don’t be one of those startups that delivers broken features with the excuse, "It's just the MVP., we'll fix it later."

Man up, admit it isn't good enough, and fix it now.

Otherwise, you're missing the entire point of the MVP in the first place - to iterate quickly on small features based on customer feedback and measurable data. If it doesn't work right in the first place, the only feedback you'll get is likely what you already know.

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1. If you havn't read Paul Graham's Do Things That Don't Scale, do yourself a favor and check it out.