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Agile Product Discovery in a Non-Startup Environment – Building MVPs
November 29th, 2011 by Joca

As mentioned in my first post about Agile Product Discovery, I’m trying to take the ideas I used in my lean startup experiment (phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3) in a non-startup environment.

Locaweb has almost 700 employees now. We ended 2010 with approximately $100M in revenue. We have around 130 people in our engineering group which include software developers, system administrators, user experience designers and product managers. We decided to use the SaaS team – around 25 people – as the group who will be part of the experiment.

In phase 1 we worked on figuring out what to do. The next phase is building the MVPs!

Organizing the team

From the 10 ideas we tested, 6 had enough traction to motivate us to build the MVPs, i.e., the minimal viable product. However, one of them was not simple enough to be developed as an MVP in 1 week so we decided to move on with 5 MVPs. The self-organized into 5 groups of 5 people each to work on developing the 5 MVPs. We wanted the groups to have focus during a whole week, so the groups were allowed to work in a different place so they ware not disturbed by daily work. Since we could not leave the company without anyone capable to deal with daily needs of our existing SaaS products, we decided to have 2 teams working during one week and the other 3 teams working during the next week.

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

Building the MVP

The MVPs

And with no further ado, here are the MVPs:

Lessons learned

  • It was good to have the teams fully focused for a whole week.
  • Since we put in the same team people who are not used to work together, it was a bit difficult to estimate the effort and many times we under estimated the effort.
  • In some products we believe we didn’t get the M for minimal correctly. We may have built sub-minimal viable products that may require another week to get to the minimal level.
  • Back to the daily activities of the non-startup environment it’s a bit difficult put some energy, even a small amount, to the MVPs.

Next steps

Now we are measuring the interest in each of the MVPs. We intend to have another Agile Product Discovery week in Feb/2012. During this week we intend not only to discover new products, but also work on the existing MVPs, specially those that we believe are sub-minimal.

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