Pick Your MVP

Computer programming event - Hackathon

I haven’t personally done enough programming to call myself competent. However, through enjoying such a hobby, the methodology has rubbed off on me.

One example that took part in the COVID pandemic was Python1 Hackathon2 – an event in which a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming, primarily in the python programming language. During the event, I introduced a project I was working on and wanted to find a software based solution.

Through the process, I was learning the language used in this space to clearly share my project. I began to invest in this competency, which had brought me to a space where I can interact more easily with programmers.

Of everything I learned that weekend, the concept of an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) – from the larger field of product development – is the thing that has stuck with me. “A minimum viable product is a version of a product with just enough features to be usable by early customers who can then provide feedback for future product development. A focus on releasing an MVP means that developers potentially avoid lengthy and unnecessary work.” 3

 MVP and co-creation in the Field

MVP was not a new concept for me. In my experience streams, such as event management or incident response operate exclusively on some form of this principle, instead of using methodologies such as ‘triage’4. In those scenarios, the added priority of safety does represent a significant variable. The priority factors concerned with short-term damage prevention/reduction over longer term development.

However, the framing of MVP describes its principles in a very concise and accessible way. While still leaning more into creating a product that is designed to fail safely and contribute to ongoing improvement. I found this framing is easier to share within my project teams. 

My work has shifted heavily into co-creation and capacity development. This framing was helpful in organizing the concept development and troubleshooting process. Whilst collaborating with teams representing many different priorities, expertise and lived experiences.

In software development, concise framings comes from the reality that in the coding space the only limitation of what can be done is the imagination. Without some guiding framework, you can get distracted and lose focus of the objective. Programmers value clear and concise objectives in as much detail as possible. This coupled with the ever present variables of unique contexts, perspectives and understanding.

 Picking your MVP when working with social actors

A group of motivated individuals with a shared social impact goal are a formidable force. In this space of passion, personal investment and creativity, the number of offshoots from a particular idea, challenge or objective can be limitless. This way, it is easy to fixate important details and potential priorities that team members bring to the table, often personally and professionally invested in their social impact missions.


During concept or work program development, I brought up the framing of MVP to the project team. This is a great tool that removes a bit of the pressure from us. There is always space for constant future improvement:

  • Our essential objectives and priority risk factors.
  • The most viable and direct path to addressing them.
  • How to leave linkages for sustainable ongoing development.
  • Make failure safer for everyone though capacity development in our communities.
 

In our world of constant economic, social and health challenges, nonprofit and community organizations have been facing significant strain in resources as a direct effect of the pandemic. Therefore, it is more important now than ever to ensure we’re introducing these types of core competencies within our communities so that more people are empowered in their own contexts.

References

  1. 1. What is Python? Retrieved from https://www.python.org/doc/essays/blurb/
  2. 2. Hackathon 2020. Retrieved from https://www.bdc.ca/en/bdc-hackathon
  3. 3. Minimum Viable Product (2021, July 09) Retrieved from  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_viable_product 
  4. 4. Kagan, J. (2021, May 19) What is Triage? Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2WeEI8R

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