MVP and the Life Languages™

I was recently coaching a client and he was relating a challenge that he was having with his staff. He has strong Mover and Influencer Life Languages™ and is brimming full of ideas. He is in frequent touch with his peers in the industry, reads voraciously, and interfaces with the local community (his users). He is exposed to a myriad of things that fuel his creative juices and driving passion to innovate. So he brings them to his staff enthusiastically and they are overjoyed to hear about the next new frontier and challenge. At least he wishes that was the case! Actually, no, his ideas frequently are often met with lots of questions and skepticism. He is frustrated by the lack of passion and uptake.

Fortunately, he had worked with us to have Life Language™ assessments of all his staff and it was pretty clear that the challenge was that he had a deep bench of Contemplators on his leadership team. These are people who *know* things, deeply, and need time to research issues and answer questions. This is incredibly valuable to him and the company as they need to have in depth domain knowledge in order to serve their community well. And they ask questions, often looking logically at their workload, and drawing from past experience to broach realistic concerns about any new projects that are being proposed. And he interprets this as pushback. So what should my client do?

I remembered that in high tech there has been a tremendous push towards agile software development, which focuses on small iterations in order to deliver software. The idea is that instead of working 6 months on a software release and finding out that you've misjudged the market or your competition, you want to deliver software in smaller iterations to reduce risk and increase flexibility. Some companies have pushed this to the extreme, like Google or Facebook, where they might release new software tens or even hundreds of times per day!

In order to do this, the definition of what needs to be developed also needs to change. There's a class of thought that focuses on MVP or Minimum Viable Product. What is the minimum feature set you would need to develop to prove that this idea is a good one and that you should push it further? It's a bare bones approach to testing whether you are heading in the right direction. It's like a sailboat tacking upwind towards a destination that is not quite known yet. The key to this is if you are wrong you fail fast and course correct and try something else. (1)


So back to my client. As we discussed MVP, we fleshed out the thought of him bringing his ideas forward with his staff and when the questions started, could he ask about what the MVP the team could propose to do to proof the ideas out. In their business, understanding how best to reach the community and engage them are paramount. Small trials that measure engagement as a proof could be very valuable and informative. He was elated and willing to trying this out at his next meeting. I'll let you know how that goes for him.

After our call, I got to thinking about how an MVP approach can be perceived by all seven of the Life Languages™. I've think it might be good approach. What do you think?

(1) A prime example of how this is used in startups is that they will often develop their website *before* they develop software. A description of the product with a button to add you to their mailing list can be an MVP before even one line of code is written.

Life Language™
Mover™ To innovate New idea will get some traction and testing. We're moving forward!
Doer™ To get things done Well-defined task without a large unknown commitment. I can do this!
Influencer™ To connect and communicate This is an opportunity to connect and learn about something from our users!
Responder™ Caring for others We can do something fast that might meet someone's needs sooner. Win, win!
Shaper™ Making and executing on a plan This is likely not to derail our existing plans and if it is valuable, we can revise our plan!
Producer™ Good management and wise resource allocation We will not be dedicating a large amount of resources unnecessarily, this is the most economical way to test out an idea.
Contemplator™ To know and have certainty By doing this, we can know more about where this is a valuable area to invest in knowing more about!

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