Solution Zoom

Zoom in on your potential solution so you can identify your MVP

Grab the tool to distill your idea down to a core promise and MVP

How do I define an MVP?

Teams are often confused by what an MVP is. Is it simply a beta release? Is it releasing a buggy product? Is it launching an ugly app? The point of the MVP is to learn about the value you’re creating. Viable is as important as minimum. So, how do you know what to build?

This question can be answered by working through the Solution Zoom, the third in a series of tools used to zoom in on market segment and value proposition before running experiments to validate your riskiest assumptions.

The Solution Zoom is meant to identify the specific functionality you must deliver in order to provide the value that you’ve promised (refer to your Problem Zoom). It helps you articulate your value proposition and what you need to build in order for your idea to succeed.

Using the Solution Zoom tool is a three-step process which we encourage you to complete rapidly as a team:

  1. Brainstorm and select the top solution features.  What specific functionality delivers the value you promise?
  2. Articulate how you will deliver your features.  What is the minimum needed to provide the functional solution?
  3. Determine your MVP solution.  What is the very minimum required to address the problem sufficiently for the product to be viable?

Remember, the term viable is just as important as minimum. If your MVP does not sufficiently solve the customer’s problem, you will fail. If you build too much, it’s easy to lose sight of the core value that you’re providing.

Ready to dive in? Let’s get started!

The Setup: Take a moment to review your target customer persona along with the pains and problems they experience (refer to your Customer Zoom and Problem Zoom tools). What did you promise the customer you would help them achieve?

If you have not already done so, begin thinking about how you will deliver on this promise. Take 10 minutes to brainstorm ideas using sticky notes, then select the boldest idea that you believe will have the greatest impact on your customer.

idea prioritization

This is your solution. It will be fleshed out in greater detail as you go through the Solution Zoom.

Example: We’ll highlight an example from an enterprise team creating a new product for the automotive market.

Initial Promise: We promise to reduce the time, money, and stress involved with buying your dream car so that family trips are more enjoyable, enhancing your quality time spent with family.

We promise to save you time buying your dream car, so you can spend more time with your family.

Solution: Website that will find and deliver your ideal new car within 24 hours.

Note: As always, we’ll be doing this work using sticky notes and a Sharpie.

Step 1a: After identifying your idea, brainstorm the necessary features that will bring the idea to life. What specific functionality will deliver the value you promise? What are the non-negotiable, must-have features? Be as specific as possible here.

Task: Brainstorm 5-10 key features.  (10 minutes or less)

Example: Account creation/login, user can create profile of ideal car, allow consumers to send text messages directly to dealerships, algorithm to match with lowest price, database of all new cars with buyer attributes, car recommendation interface, local dealer recommendations

Step 1b: Review your list of features and select the top three most crucial to your solution. It’s tempting to think all features are equally important, but try to prioritize as best you can.

Task: Narrow your list of features to the three most important and place them on the Solution Zoom using sticky notes. (2 minutes or less)

Example: User can create profile of ideal car, car recommendation interface, allow consumers to send text messages directly to dealerships.

Step 2: Articulate how you will deliver each feature identified in the previous step. What platform will the features live on? How will you distribute the product to customers? Is there a specific technology required for your solution to work as intended? Remember not to worry about scaling just yet; the implementation should be whatever is minimally needed to provide the required functionality to one customer.

Task: Document how you will deliver each feature on sticky notes, and place them on the Solution Zoom. You should have no more than 3 sticky notes in this section of the tool. (10 minutes)

Example:

 

  • Platform – mobile-optimized website
  • Distribution – car buyer trade show booth
  • Technology – sms interface

Step 3a: Identify your MVP solution. This is the very minimum required to viably address your customer’s problem. Some questions to think about include: are there aspects of the idea you plan to automate in the future that can be done manually at first? What is crucial vs. nice-to-have? What nuisance is your customer willing to put up with if their core pain is addressed?

Task: Write your MVP solution on a sticky note and post it to the Solution Zoom. (10 minutes)

Example: An sms-based tool for new car buyers that will allow dealers to find your ideal car within 24 hours.

Step 3b: Articulate the very first thing a user must do when attempting to get value from your solution. From the user’s perspective, how will their first attempt to use your solution play out?

Task: Write down the first behavior a user must take in order to gain value from your product, and post it to the Solution Zoom. (5 minutes)

Task: Send a text message to a dealer and answer a few questions about the car they hope to purchase.

Congratulations! You have now zoomed in on your Customer, Problem, and Solution. You should feel confident in who your are targeting, how you plan to alleviate their greatest pains, and what the initial solution will look like.

Use your MVP moving forward to identify the riskiest assumptions behind your idea which you can now test using behavioral experiments.

Grab the tool to distill your idea down to a core promise and MVP