The Value of MVPs

Greetings.  If you follow sports you likely know that the acronym "MVP" stands for "most valuable player."  It's an award given to the player who made the biggest contribution to the success of the team or even the league.  Though it isn't always the player with the most talent…after all, there's a lot that goes into making a real difference including hard work, long hours and focused determination.  Along this line, many companies and organizations also recognize their own MVPs or  "most valuable people" (or employees) each year or even each month.  These are the folks who've made the most significant contributions to business success.  Again, they don't have to be the most brilliant or most important person, but rather the person who has worked the hardest to satisfy customers, create a new product or service, open a new market or improve top- or bottom-line performance.

But there is another definition of "MVP" that has become quite popular in business today, and it's almost the opposite of the more traditional idea.  It's the concept of creating "minimally viable products" that we put into the marketplace before they are totally baked in order to get feedback from customers and users in advance of putting in the time, effort and focused determination required to get them right. In this way, the logic suggests, we can find out if our initial concept strikes a cord and, if so, how to make them better prior to any real investment.  Simply create the crude prototype for a new product on your 3D printer, or the very rough design for a new software or smart phone application, then get fast input without spending a lot of time or money.  It's an idea that makes a lot of sense in certain disciplines assuming that the prospective offering is intriguing enough to get people to see beyond the faults to its potential.  But it requires us to come up with a concept that is likely to really matter to customers and an ability to engage them in the effort to make it a truly meaningful offering.

More importantly, it suggests the value of brainstorming with customers as often as possible as we try to figure out ways to enhance their success.

One very hot company that started as a minimally viable product is Dropbox–the personal cloud company that allows you to store and access all of your stuff on any of your devices or anyone else's.


We win in business and in life when we turn half-baked ideas into powerful possibilities.  And when we make customers an essential part of our development efforts.


Don’t Take “YES” for an Answer

Greetings.  We work so hard to get to "YES."  Thinking.  Analyzing.  Discussing. Proposing.  Brainstorming.  Refining.  Compromising.  Tweaking.  Then finally agreeing to move forward in a new and better way.  But what if "YES" isn't good enough?  Or, more importantly, what if "YES" isn't the best that we can be?

The key is not to take "YES" for an answer.  Not that "YES" is bad.  After all, the commitment to get something important done is a step in the right direction. And it's certainly better that "NO" or "MAYBE."  But if it's not the best we have to give, then maybe "YES" should simply be a valued starting point for unlocking our real brilliance and creating innovation that matters.  So the next time you and the geniuses you work with think that you've figured out the best way to do something, take a fresh sheet of paper and try to figure out an even better way.  Not the perfect solution to a critical challenge, or the solution to a great opportunity that will take forever to implement.  But a solution that is better than the one you were satisfied to use.  This commitment to really push the envelope is what separates truly great companies and organizations from the pack.  And it demonstrates a powerful desire to deliver the best value possible in meeting the needs of the customers you serve. It's also a wonderful way to really engage people.

Yes-noWe prosper in business and in life by challenging ourselves to be even better than we imagined.  What if you and your colleagues tried just a bit harder to be remarkable?  Maybe a good solution has put you one simple step away from being really awesome!