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Lean and MVP

What are Lean thinking and MVP in Agile product development?

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What are Lean thinking and MVP in Agile product development?

The following article is part of the self-preparation for the modern BVOP® Scrum Master Certification program.

Both Lean and MVP are Agile concepts aimed at optimally producing and creating the optimal product. The purpose of both ideas is to optimize costs and waste, as well as to satisfy the customer and user needs.

  1. What is Lean?
    1. Lean thinking
  2. The search for perfection through Kaizen.
  3. What is MVP
    1. MVP is not rushing to do everything
    2. Providing feedback on MVP
    3. MVP is recreated in cycles

What is Lean?

Lean thinking is a business idea that aims to provide a way of thinking about organizing human activities to provide more benefits while eliminating waste.

Lean thinking comes from Toyota Motor Company, which went from being a bankrupt Japanese carmaker business in the early 1950s to becoming the dominant global manufacturer it is today. At every stage of its expansion, Toyota is targeting new markets for products that are considered relatively unattractive. The organization avoids standard practices and thus seeks to increase the value of its operations and investments.

The company has applied the practice of appointing a unique group of elders (Sensei) and coordinators (teachers from Japan), dedicated to helping the company’s managers to think differently.

Toyota’s training focuses on developing people’s thinking skills, not forcing them to perform specialized tasks, and use standard practices, tools, and procedures.

These “sensei” have caused managers to look at their jobs differently.

Some of their teachings are focused on the following topics:

You go and see the working conditions first hand and discover the facts for yourself instead of relying on reports and meetings in the boardroom.

The workplace is where real people deliver real value. It should be evident that managers support and respect their employees for adding value to the organization through their ideas and initiatives.

The imposition of the idea that customer satisfaction is paramount is embedded in every step of the company’s process. You have to stop at every problematic part, analyze it and get to the point where you and everyone in the team do not let it be the reason for a defective product and do not accept defective work. The work process stops when things go wrong.

Understanding the cycle time and creating a rhythm. This “rhythm”, whether it is for the production of automobiles or software projects, leads to the creation of stable value flows, where stable teams work on a stable set of products in stable environments and with stable processes.

Reduction in production size. Every traditional business has strong desires for a large amount of work produced. High volume production can lead to waste.

Lean thinking

Lean thinking is trying to optimize the flow of work to meet current demand, not future demand.

By reducing time and difficulty in our work, it is possible to get closer to perfect results. In this way, we can dramatically minimize the overall spendings of our business by reducing the need for additional costs for outsourcing, fees, procedures, materials, equipment, and more.

Preview work and processes through Kanban. As much as a manager or an operational officer is experienced, process failures always occur. That is why, visualizing tasks, jobs, and processes through Kanban can make apparent work issues and greatly help everyone.

The search for perfection through Kaizen.

The old Sensei argued that it was not of the highest importance to use tools and standards for each process or activity but to develop the spirit of each employee.

Perfection is not achieved through better, smarter systems or characters, but by a desire to improve performance step by step together.

Kaizen’s practice is what creates deep and reasonably productive thinking in people’s minds and ultimately leads to complete transformation. Practicing Kaizen on an organizational level increases collective and self-confidence so the organization can face more significant challenges and solve problems.

What is MVP

MVP stands for “Minimum viable product”. A minimum viable product has sufficient functionality that satisfies early adopters who provide feedback on its future development.

MVP is not rushing to do everything

When you create an MVP this means that you are more focused on the essential concepts initially instead of rushing to implement every single thing you or your managers have decided, which can affect the product negatively.

Providing feedback on MVP

Providing feedback means that when you have a minimal product, you will be able to see the reaction of your users and customers. Do they like your product? Is it useful for them or not? On this basis, you continue your research and work.

Gathering initial information about your MVP is often less expensive than developing a multi-function product, which increases the cost and risk in the event of failure.

A minimum viable product has enough basic features (or functionalities) for effective initial product launch and nothing more.

Developers usually focus on a group of potential customers - such as early adopters, who are thought to “forgive” more minor issues, are more likely to give feedback and can understand the product’s vision from its early stages.

This strategy aims to avoid creating features that customers do not want anyway.

MVP is recreated in cycles

MVP is recreated in cycles and iterations by generating ideas, prototyping, collecting data, analyzing, and learning from the results so far.

The goal is to minimize the total time spent in an iteration. The process is repeated until the desired product is obtained or until it is considered unsustainable.

The following issues related to chapter "Lean and MVP" are included in the certification exam. The sequence of questions is presented in the table.
The data is current as of November 24, 2020, 3:59 pm

ID Issue Time Category
0 What is MVP 60 sec SM, PO
1 Lean thinking 60 sec SM, PO
2 MVP is not rushing to do everything 60 sec SM, PO
3 What is Lean? 60 sec SM, PO
4 Providing feedback on MVP 60 sec SM, PO
5 The search for perfection through Kaizen. 60 sec SM, PO
6 MVP is recreated in cycles 60 sec SM, PO

Comments from the BVOP™ community

Gabriella Doyle

Lean is a management approach that directs and limits the cost of production resources solely in achieving goals that create added value for the end customer. To be implemented as an approach in production, everyone must change their way of thinking. This way of thinking we call Lean Thinking.

Companies often waste resources

Companies often waste resources to achieve goals that do not create added value. Thus, they suffer losses, which are reflected in low productivity, increased cost, and unstable quality. This complicates the management system and it makes mistakes, which leads to more losses and more problems with productivity, cost, and quality. Instead of creating added value for the customer, organizations struggle with problems that may be challenging but do not make the product more marketable.

Lean analyzes what we need to do for the client

Lean analyzes what we need to do for the client. Resource costs are divided into two groups - useful costs that add value to the customer and unnecessary costs that prevent value-added. These are the so-called "Surplus losses". Lean's goal is to uncover them and eliminate them, or at least limit them to reasonable levels.

The seven wastes of Lean are:

  • Overproduction
  • Inventory
  • Motion
  • Defects
  • Over-processing
  • Waiting
  • Transport

Comments of our guests
  1. Martha Garzon
    As Scrum addresses the topic of product value, Lean thinking, and products following MVP approaches should likely be an important part of the Scrum rules. It is commendable that you have placed these materials as part of your Agile Scrum Master training. Many Agile roles have little or no understanding of these topics. In my opinion, every Scrum team and product should include Lean and MVP rules officially declared.

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