Rachel and I ran a Lean Life Canvas follow up session this last week and it was a great opportunity to revisit our canvases with the clarity of hindsight from the last 3-6 months. One of the areas on the canvas that can be a bit counter-intuitive at times is the Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

Within software development, a minimum viable product has just enough core features to effectively deploy the product, and no more. What we mean by MVP for Life starts with the basics, the essentials, the stuff we have to do.  It can be helpful to think of it as the first two layers of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs or perhaps what do you need to do or have in your day to day life to hit 20% awesome. For me, this looks like:

  • all of the family up and dressed (apart from the dog obvs) and fed;
  • everyone deployed to their various roles – school, work, dialysis;
  • sufficient fuel in the car;
  • clean clothes;
  • the week ahead planned out;
  • food in the fridge;
  • minimum 5hrs sleep

Those are the basics for me and sometimes the reality of this is pretty messy and haphazard but it’s the starting point – my MVP.  I generally achieve MVP most days (except for yesterday where 2 of us spent the whole day in our pyjamas….).

The reason that this is on the canvas is that this is the starting point for looking forwards; the cornerstone from which we can build up our awesome.

In understanding our MVP, we can then add to it as we understand what helps us to build our awesome life performance.  We can think of operating at 80% Awesome as Optimum Viable Product (OVP) so once we have our MVP, we add in the things that enable us to achieve more awesome.

In my case, this looks like:

  • more sleep & time to myself
  • being part of a fantastic team and playing my part in it – family, work, hockey etc
  • remembering birthdays
  • having capacity to support my friends and family
  • planning and preparing my teaching
  • exploring new opportunities
  • finding elegant solutions

There’s more but this is enough for now! In understanding what 80% Awesome looks, feels, smells and tastes like (and what our OVP is), we can identify what our success criteria are – I know I am operating at 80% Awesome when…..

The rest of the second part of the canvas is about planning to create those conditions where we can increase our day-to-day awesome and planning what we can do. I have found that this process also helps me to understand where and when I need to ask for help.

Creating an MVP (and an OVP) is part of deepening our understanding of ourselves and the needs of our individual lives and contexts but it’s not a stick to beat ourselves with. There are days when MVP seems too much and that’s ok too.

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