Proof of Concept vs. Minimum Lovable Product: What’s the difference and why does it matter?
For most innovation teams, delivering a proof of concept of their ideas is the end of the road. Job done. Not Sogeti. In each of our applied innovation projects for our clients, we go further – much further – to create what we call a ‘Minimum Lovable Product’.
Like a proof of concept, a Minimum Lovable Product is delivered quickly and cost-effectively. But only a Minimum Lovable Product can provide true business value. In this article, I’ll explain why.
Let’s start with some definitions:
- A Proof of Concept is a paper model that proves a product or service is technically viable. It performs the function it was designed for but nothing more.
- By contrast, a Minimum Lovable Product is a market-ready product or service that proves the technical feasibility and business feasibility of an idea. In a Minimum Lovable Product, design and user experience (UX) are refined to a level of quality that makes the innovation ready for deployment to the intended marketplace or user environment. Owners can begin to gather feedback immediately, and users are more likely to adopt the product or service, helping it to scale much faster.
Radically different results
A Minimum Lovable Product delivers business results that are impossible to achieve with a proof of concept alone:
- ROI. Using a proof of concept to prove that an idea is technically possible is no guarantee that the idea offers business value. We created our Thinkubator program for exactly this reason, having seen innovation teams across the globe develop reams of technologically advanced proof of concepts, without ever having delivered an innovation that made it to market.
In our applied innovation practice, we start by defining the business outcome that our clients want to achieve or the commercial problem they want to solve via innovation. Technology is a secondary consideration to this question. This ensures we stay focused on achieving business value at every step of the innovation process, to deliver a product or service that generates demonstrable ROI for the owner.
Having a clear understanding of the business case for innovation also makes the process more cost-effective. Because the innovation brief is clear, it’s easier to see when the innovation process is going off course and to stop it or redirect efforts.
- Adoption. Apps like Uber, Airbnb and Amazon Netflix all offer excellent digital experiences. Users expect a similar level of quality from every digital product or service and will abandon those that don’t make the mark. Unlike a proof of concept, a Minimum Lovable Product is therefore designed to offer a best-in-class user experience that just works.
Focusing on user experience creates a virtuous circle. Offering a good experience means users are more likely to adopt the product or service, which increases the amount of user feedback they generate, which innovation owners can use to refine the user experience further.
- Buy-in. A proof of concept meets the requirements of the technology team that builds it. A Minimum Lovable Product meets the needs of the whole business – including end users, IT teams and all other key stakeholders.
Engaging leaders is especially important. During our ‘Thinkubation’ process, we consult with business leaders and use our Minimum Lovable Product to show leaders how their innovation will provide business value in the real world and how the technology will work with their existing tech stack. This isn’t always possible with a minimal proof of concept.
Engaging leaders this way ensures our clients’ executive teams buy into the project. This is essential, given that it’s leaders who have the power to remove barriers to the process, provide additional funding and derail or stop the innovation process. We’ll even pause projects when leaders are unavailable to take part in workshops.
- Culture. Building awareness this way creates a longer-term impact across organizations, helping them to fulfillfulfill their innovation potential.
Teams outside the innovation process that see the value delivered by the Minimum Lovable Product are more likely to want to adopt innovation into their practices. For this reason, Sogeti’s Thinkubator process is designed to be scalable and repeatable across large, complicated organizations.
Minimum Lovable Products are especially powerful for persuading risk-averse stakeholders to experiment with innovation because they prove business value and impact beyond doubt – something a proof of concept is not designed to do.
By driving ROI and adoption, cultivating business buy-in and shifting organizational mindsets, Minimum Lovable Products have a far higher success rate within organizations. 95% of the applied innovations developed via our Thinkubator process go on to become production-ready products and services within our clients’ businesses. Only a fraction of proof of concepts achieve the same.
So, what are you waiting for? Working with Sogeti to develop your first Minimum Lovable Product will accelerate your time-to-value and enable you to drive greater value from your investment in innovation. Don’t settle for less.