Why is defining a minimally marketable feature set so tough?

So I wrote a game for a course I also wrote called “Agile fundamentals for product owners”, the course is a heavily cut down version of more in depth technical versions Thoughtworks offer but the point of the game is to pit two teams against each other for transportation contracts. The winning team each round is the one that gets their solution to market fastest. OK so a little contrived but a few interesting things happen when you play the game.

1. The players start aggressively discounting features that aren’t essential – They suddenly really “get” the concept of a minimally marketable feature set.

2. When you ask them if they do this in their existing projects they unanimously say “no”.

3. the drive to do this comes from the fact they can see the other team approaching the same problem.

Which got me to wondering why they find this so hard in their actual business? The only real difference is they can’t see the other team they are competing with, but you can bet your bottom dollar they are out there somewhere.

Your only saving grace is the other team can’t see you either!

The reality of this situation is still the competitor who gets to market faster usually wins! Be it through understanding clearly what their minimally marketable feature set is or a good Continuous Delivery (CD) pipeline or ever through sheer bloody mindedness, I’d suggest Minimally marketable feature sets is probably the most important. If you couple that with a CD pipeline you are now in a very powerful position! – You now have the ability to repeatedly get changes into production that solves the problem faster than anyone else (or at absolute worst the same speed).

The winner in this situation is the team that really understand what their minimally marketable feature set is.

Do you?


August 3 2012
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