The curious case of Minimum Viable Product

I recently got into an IT project with a dream to digitise the process and use the efficiency to drive down cost, improve experience and reduce marketplace inefficiency (matching demand with supply) – sounds all familiar?

As in any IT project, we envisioned an end product that would meet all our requirements but then decided to prioritise a few features given the realities such as budgets and timelines – Thus came the MVP, Minimum Viable Product.

As the name suggests, it is minimum! Something like start small and make it big. But if we make something very frugal, can it live upto the expectations of the future? Perhaps not! So comes the second name, viable. Anything that is viable, gives more economic returns than what is invested in. So theoretically, we could make something very small as to not give any ecconomic output and thus any small cost would mean the product is not viable. Mathematically, 0/(however small number/cost) still results in 0.

So ‘the small’ that we start with should deliver sufficient economic value inorder to justify the denominator – that is the cost.

Also who determines the minimum? The person who is closest to being able to calculate the economic output should. Because calculating the denominator, cost, in most cases is rather simple. So it’s essentially business that should tell IT team if the economic output for certain costs is high enough.

But will the minimum viable product actually give raise to the theoretical economic output that is estimated? That is a business risk. And things can go different from plan and therefore a minimum viable solution should have a 6 months vision of product road map so that the project can be added with more bells and whistles to deliver better economic value.

So next time you think k of creating an IT product, think of a Minimum Viable Product where you so big enough to deliver economic value to justify costs and plan for roadmap atleast for 6 months.

Is Automation: RPA, AI going to end jobs and necessitate Universal Basic Income?

Elon Musk recently came out strongly for the Universal Basic Income because he believes that over time, computers will take over most jobs and people will loose jobs and to sustain this living, people will need to be given a Universal Basic Income.

Watch the video: Elon Musk on Universal Basic Income

But how true and workable is this idea?

While I am not personally against such an idea, I think there is a need for searching better alternatives. Jumping to a simplistic solution like Universal Basic Income inhibits creativity. Here are some reasons why Switzerland, a very rich country that can afford such a decision, actually decided against it (News Link for details).

  1. Disconnecting the link between work done and money earned would have been bad for society; clearly communist/socialism attempted and failed.
  2. The idea Elon moots is that with automation, efficiency will improve and everything will become cheap and a low Basic income would suffice to sustain. However there are challenges to this statement
    1. Efficiency will reduce cost of goods and services but everything will be expensive for an unemployed
    2. Universal basic income may only provide enough to survive, not enough to meet aspirations of the generations
  3. Who would pay for Universal Basic Income? If companies are taxed, then improving efficiency will not result in lesser cost

While those problem exist, I think India has figured out what people will do if they don’t have to earn for their living.  India once was a very rich country and marginal utility curve meant that doing anything more to earn more didn’t yield more happiness. Here are things we could do

  1. Spirituality
  2. Pursuit of Knowledge
  3. Family focussed
  4. Minimalist living as a way of life

But I think the world won’t get there very quickly! There is a lot of work that isnt happening today that needs to be done!

  1. Are all diseases cured?
  2. How many houses are designed by  expert architects?
  3. More sustainable living innovation
  4. zillions of more problems are yet to be solved and Human kind also enjoys luxury of war to go back to ground zero … regressive growth.

What do you think?

Re-post: Designing HR Services that Deliver Exceptional Employee Experience

In 1998 HR Guru Dave Ulrich wrote an article in Harvard Business Review that guided Human Resource transformation for rest of the decade. The idea he mooted was to separate out operational activities and manage them separately while HR focuses on change, strategy and business partnership. As a result, global companies spent their time identifying operational HR activities and moving them to a centralized Shared Services Centre…. Click to read on

If the click doesnt work:

Advertisement targeting kids – is it fair?

My son was asking me to put on his favourite YouTube channel. I selected one video and treamed it on the TV. It looks like a very usual video and I allowed him to watch it but just after 10 minutes of watching he came back and said he wants to buy eggs, gems and gold fish! I was surprised hearing his requests and enquired how he came up with them and he showed me how in the video a father and son make a pizza using all these stuffs. The video explicitly advertises Ben and Jerry ice creams by Unilever, some jelly stuff which I haven’t come across in India. (Don’t ask me why they are putting these things as pizza toppings!)

A video that at first looked very usual YouTube for kids turned out to be an elaborate advertisement getting kids to ask their parents to buy stuffs they shouldn’t be. The video that followed this one was all about two Kids trying to make McDonald’s burger and ice cream for a dinosaur.

Advertising for adults is good because in a way it educates consumers about goods. But consumers are mature enough to make decisions for themselves but kids are not. Search elaborate advertisements should be mark as spam by parents and should be removed by YouTube.

Note that there is a YouTube app for kids – it’s curated but still needs monitoring.

Every work that passes through me gets my stamp

Mr. Joe was pulled into a meeting early in the morning. Mr. Joe wasn’t too excited about the work nor was he too keen but he couldn’t say no to it. So Joe decided to just sit through it and did ‘class participation’.

I was in a meeting where my colleagues was complaining about the agenda not being circulated in advance. The required data was not available. He was complaining that he is clueless why he is there in the first place! I hushed him and asked him to drift along in the meeting… afterall we had senior executives in the meeting and if their time could be wasted – we can’t be complaining!

Does the above happen to you?

While most of us react this way for work we are not transparently accountable for, this leads to poor organisational performance. We take our work so seriously, we go carefully to select people for advise and insight. So when we are pulled into a meeting- someone else is in our position seeking advice.

What goes around, comes around! So participate in every meeting carefully and give your best. Your presence in the meeting is not accidental. If you don’t understand need for your presence, ask! But once in, give your best.