Minimum Viable Failure


This post is by Phin Barnes from sneakerheadVC - Medium


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Everyone talks about building minimum viable products (MVP) but a culture of minimum viable failure (MVF)is much more valuable. Identifying failure quickly and stopping is the key for founders at the earliest stages. Instead of wondering how you will know if a product feature or growth tactic is good enough, ask yourself, “What will it take for me to kill this idea?” and define the answer in measurable, objective metrics.

The purpose of an MVP is to test a hypothesis, to validate, de-risk or disprove your current mental model. When you build something that people want, you can tell. But how do you know if you built the thing that they want the most? How do you know if you have done enough? Defining success in something that has never been done before is really hard and full of mental traps and bias.

If you search to find the right

you can turn promotional and see success because it clears the minimum viable bar, as you have defined it. But, defining “good enough” is monumentally hard — and everyone wants to view themselves as “good enough” so emotion weighs heavy. The need to feel successful often clouds the lens used to identify success in what you have built and ego can drive you to keep pushing when you should stop and change direction.

Tactically, it is much easier to define objective metrics and clear signs something is not working. If you can orient yourself (and your team) to focus on the well defined, objectively measurable failure, you will maximize the pace of learning in your search for product market fit and the key levers of growth for your product.

In a great minimum viable failure culture, you celebrate the success of finding what does not work, you foster a mindset of iteration and transparency and a culture that supports smarter risk taking. When you embrace MVF as a founder, growth is built into the DNA of your business.


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