THE MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT

Use of the MVP concept for validation is aided by thinking of a place as a product with features. The features can be anything required to test your ideas, for example, defining the place spatially, changing its meaning through art, adding new activities to invite people to spend more time, providing varied seating and so on. It's important not to attempt to do any more than necessary to accelerate execution and to reduce complexity (this is known as capacity constraint). The MVP concept requires two judgement calls, you must decide on:

  1. The features which need to be included in the prototype to adequately test what you want to learn.

  2. The quality of features that you need to test your predictions or hypotheses.

  Urban innovations are exported and adapted around the world   There is now a huge variety of successful examples for cities to make great places and build city life. City makers can emulate successful cities and put their local unique twist on a concept and scale it up or down to their community's size. An example of this adaptation is  a street food market on Copenhagen's waterfront  where the vendors are inside the warehouse and protected from the Scandinavian climate. This type of project creates huge social value for a city's social life and diversifies its social offering so we need better methods to import and adapt ideas. The Lean Startup is one of the best we've encountered.

Urban innovations are exported and adapted around the world

There is now a huge variety of successful examples for cities to make great places and build city life. City makers can emulate successful cities and put their local unique twist on a concept and scale it up or down to their community's size. An example of this adaptation is a street food market on Copenhagen's waterfront where the vendors are inside the warehouse and protected from the Scandinavian climate. This type of project creates huge social value for a city's social life and diversifies its social offering so we need better methods to import and adapt ideas. The Lean Startup is one of the best we've encountered.

The MVP is a flexible concept for learning how to make a successful place because it is contextual. After testing the initial set of features, new versions of the MVP can be created. Importantly, features which do not work should be removed or adapted to make space for features that do add value.

The Lean Startup is strategic by design - the direction is known but the exact route to getting there is not determined, and most importantly it anticipates that the direction will likely change once learning occurs with the users in the real world. The author of the Lean Startup provides the analogy of driving a car (Lean startup) versus launching a rocket (traditional business plans). Masterplans maximise risks for the client as assumptions underpinning the plan are not tested (i.e. traditional business plans are like the 'rocket' in the analogy). The Lean Startup which uses prototyping to learn and reduce uncertainty minimises risk for clients. Our experience with clients testing out this analogy has found it is easily understood and useful for a broad range of audiences and facilitates good discussions on the strategy of creating a successful place as people understand that there is no one right answer.

  Napier's first MVP   Napier's first 'urban oasis' March 2015 - a pop-up space on Market St had the following features (from near to far): box seating, market umbrellas, bean bags, artificial turf, and a small buskers stage. The judgement call on quality impacted on the quality of materials used to finish the seating boxes and the design of the turf - an Art Deco pattern to match one of Napier's heritage characteristics.  Through the learning loop, Napier Council found that the buskers stage was not being used as buskers preferred performing next to the flow of people along the footpath on Emerson St rather than performing at the urban oasis where people hung-out. The stage was removed in iterations of the oasis, and bistro style seating was tested in the same location.

Napier's first MVP

Napier's first 'urban oasis' March 2015 - a pop-up space on Market St had the following features (from near to far): box seating, market umbrellas, bean bags, artificial turf, and a small buskers stage. The judgement call on quality impacted on the quality of materials used to finish the seating boxes and the design of the turf - an Art Deco pattern to match one of Napier's heritage characteristics.

Through the learning loop, Napier Council found that the buskers stage was not being used as buskers preferred performing next to the flow of people along the footpath on Emerson St rather than performing at the urban oasis where people hung-out. The stage was removed in iterations of the oasis, and bistro style seating was tested in the same location.

What next?

The bias toward action of the startup approach has helped our clients to reduce risk and cost, and accelerate outcomes and build relationships with place stakeholders and delighted their communities. The startup approach is great for quickly establishing a rhythm of of build-measure-learn for projects when resources are available. Yet cities are not businesses and the regulatory environment in which they operate can cause headaches for city makers. The start-up approach needs to be combined with the traditions of urbanism.


MAKE AN IMPACT IN THREE STEPS

Overcome challenges that limit your progress on your big goals. Use a simple three step process to make an impact in your city. The steps:

  1. Engage.

  2. Accelerate.

  3. Adapt.

Contact us for an initial consultation about your goals.