The MVP of product: Stick a dart in the ground and go

When I spent my time as Director of Product for Grit Digital Health, I found myself relying on one phrase as a way to get folks on board with the idea of a product MVP: Stick a dart in the ground and go.

In the product world, we always want our deliverables to be top notch–full of all the features, all the bells and whistles, and be flawless, at that. But, that’s now how the product world actually works. In fact, that’s not how life works.

Remember that time in your life when you had a “pie in the sky” dream? The ultimate goal–maybe it was to be CMO, start a business, become a yoga teacher, quit life and start over in a new country. Whatever it was, for many of us, we were too scared to leap (and if you leapt, you’re my hero). Our reasoning? All the pieces weren’t in place, we didn’t have the money, work got in the way, or fear swept in. My point is, when we set super unrealistic goals for ourselves, we work to lay the path and realize that it probably takes too many steps, too much time, and in our minds, we need absolutely everything lined up perfectly to leap.

So back to product.

Facebook didn’t launch it’s platform with cover videos for business pages and GIF replies for comments. In fact, it wasn’t even opened up to the world when the product launched.

Apple wouldn’t let you delete native apps from it’s iOS (like the dreaded maps app) with the launch of the first iPhone 10 years ago.

When you launch your product for the first time, you have to ask yourself: what are the basic objectives that solve for the problem? Start there. Build, iterate, and repeat. And, once your user experience is solid, you can start to dream up product add-ons to enhance the user experience, to retain existing users and attract new ones.

Yes, I want every product I launch to be packaged up beautifully and tied with a solid gold bow, but if I did that, the product would never launch.

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