Why Search Sucks: The MVP Approach Maybe?

April 13, 2020

I read what seems to be a modern management write up. The implicit idea is that when developing an app or other software, people get excited. The coder or the team thinks of the many nifty things the new gizmo can deliver. What happens? There are Windows 10 and Apple OSX updates that brick a user’s computer? There are services like Quibi which fall over on Day One because scaling didn’t happen. There are other examples ranging from Google’s wild and crazy Zoom killers to Zoom’s encryption which wasn’t and still may not be… encrypted.

Why We Are Hardwired to Focus on the Wrong Parts of our Product” seeks to explain why flawed apps and software are the norm. Remember? That’s the big hump in the middle of standard distribution. The challenge today is producing software that sort of works; that is, good enough for today’s often clueless user.

The write up asserts:

Iterative product development achieves its speed through a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach. MVP means taking the possible feature set that could be included in a product, or the possible functionality a specific feature could deliver, and cutting it down to the minimum needed to bring value to the end-user.

The consequence of MVP: The bell curve of failure.

The MVP process primes us to want to regain the value we believe we’ve lost. As soon as the product is live, we fall into a weakness-based, additive strategy, where we are compelled to add new functionality in order to win back our lost value (real or imagined).

This weakness-based mindset gets further reinforced when we start analyzing data and feedback. Because loss aversion causes us to focus on losses more than gains, we are more likely to gloss over positive signals and areas of strength and focus instead on the areas of the product that “aren’t working.”

What’s the fix? Here you go:

Analyze what works

Move from addition to subtraction

Understand your strengths.

Sound too good to be true? Well, the approach may be good enough. I am waiting for a book called Thinking Wronger: A Basic Guide.

Stephen E Arnold, April 13, 2020


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