“Begin with the end in mind” – Stephen Covey
The first step in our 80 Hours to MVP requires us to make a jump forward in time. For this, we’ll take a cue from author Stephen Covey and “Begin with the End in Mind”. It is the 2nd habit covered in his bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Using visualization, we can prepare ourselves for success. You’ve no doubt heard countless stories of how athletes use visualization to prepare themselves for success on the playing field. I was introduced to this technique in an undergrad Sci-Fi Literature class in which I was tasked with writing a resume representing my completed writing career. It was a great opportunity of project myself into the future and look back at the choices that I would like to have made.
In applying visualization to my development projects, I complete a self interview about the completed project, which helps get my initial vision out of my head and into a tangible form. I’ve used various templates but most recently I’ve settled on using questions that I’ve seen on Apple’s App Store “Meet The Developer” section. Getting featured in the App Store is a goal I’d like to achieve so it’s not a stretch to imagine how I would answer these questions.
Let’s take a look at the questions and see how they can help.
What problem were you trying to solve with this project?
Starting with our WHY is critical as you should have a clear idea of the problem that you are trying to solve. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering to be worthwhile, it just needs to be clearly stated. Referring back to the answer to this question during the development process can help you stay on track and prevent feature creep.
What was your biggest challenge?
This is a funny question to me because I have always been wrong in retrospect. Imagining the future won’t prevent mistakes from being made. There are many assumptions in the beginning, particularly because the are so many unknowns.
What turned out to be easier than you expected?
This question is similar in nature to the previous one and can be just as difficult to answer. There’s probably at least one aspect of this project that will be much easier than initially imagined.
At what point did you realize that this was going to work?
What would the project look like/do at a minimum for it to be viewed as a success. It is that point at which it is determined to “work”. Use this to define success milestones for the project.
How and where does everyone work on the this project?
Answering this question provides an opportunity to get a handle on logistics. Are you working on this project alone or with others? If working with others, how will you communicate? How often will you meet to discuss progress or issues?
What advice would you give to your younger self?
This question was the impetus for the 80 Hours to MVP approach. After completing the Gobo app, I realized I could’ve gotten to a usable version much sooner by thinking/shipping smaller. There will almost always be something that you’ll wish you’d known when you started.
After the MVP is complete, what are the next steps? Think about both the obvious (e.g. additional features, other platforms) and not-so-obvious (e.g. marketing campaigns, press releases, support) actions you can take.
Once you’ve completed the MVP, go back to this initial interview and go over the questions.
- How accurate were you?
- Which assumptions were right/wrong?
- What would you do differently?
- Are there any additional questions that you would’ve have asked at the beginning? (feel free to add those to your template)