Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Agile with Mum: MVP

Working with a range of people, you end up with a growing list of things you steal. One of my favourites is from Helen Meek who often asks people to think of explaining to their Mum. So if we are saying we want a 'simple' interface, we might think of our Mum using it. This means no long words, no technology, no three letter acronymns - you get the picture.

Just recently, I was trying to get across the thinking behind an MVP and eventually imagined this metaphor which I thought I would share. This also covers the basics of Story Mapping and I hope it can be explained in under 5 minutes.

Imagine we are planning our ultimate holiday. This is our once in a lifetime, no expense spared, lifetime-memory-creating sort of holiday. This is important and very expensive and you have decided to plan this a little so that everything goes according to plan and gives you the best possible experience.

You realise there are certain stages to making sure this goes off without a hitch. You start to write them down and you end up with something like this:

Preparation -> Journey Out -> Enjoyment -> Journey Back

Each of these are not just one thing, they are each a series of things you need to do. So you start to list them out. Some of these are really important and some are not - this is the ultimate holiday so you want to remember everything that will make it awesome. We want to remember and think about all the little details.

You write your list of things and then order them so that the most important are at the top and the least important are at the bottom:

Check Visa Requirements
Tell neighbours and give spare key
Change Money
Stock up on sun tan lotion
Buy beach books
Buy new swimsuit

Journey Out
Turn off heating
Remember Passport!
Remember Wallet!
Book Taxi
Pack Suitcase
Charge Phone

Book excursions
Get Trip Advisor Recommendations
Tell Hotel about fish allergy

Journey Back
Book early wake up call for flight
Money for pressies at airport
Charm stewardess for seat upgrade
Book Taxi

You then start to look for your holiday.

The unthinkable then happens. You find the deal of the century. I mean a true "oh my god it can't be true" sort of deal that is totally legit. It's got everything, the ideal location, a superb hotel, all inclusive booze, transfers - the lot. All for a teeny tiny price.

But there's a catch. You have to leave in 15 minutes to get the flight.

Fortunately, you have your plan and you realise that since you have already ordered everything by importance to the ultimate holiday goal, you can use this to work out what you need to do to make that flight.

So you go down each list and stop at something you can leave out - everything above it is a must have. So in Preparation, you stop at "tell neighbours and give spare key" - don't need that, so everything below it must be not required too. In Journey Out, you stop at "Book Taxi" - we are just getting out of here right now so that's not required either. In Enjoyment nothing makes the cut, all that will have to wait until we get there. Journey back doesn't make the cut either since it doesn't effect the minimum we need to go on this holiday.

So what are we left with?

Check Visa requirements
Turn off heating
Remember Passport!
Remember Wallet!

This is the minimum viable product.