"You need an MVP", observed Himself, as he popped a third cup of hot tea beside me, skillfully retrieving the two previous cold ones before my mouse hand knocked them over. He eased himself into the chair, dumped the battered folder of Layouts I Like on the floor, and squinted at the screen. "It'll be next summer by the time you get this done at this rate."
"I know", I sighed, wriggling my stiffening shoulders. "I'm just not sure how this design ..."
"That'll already be version number twenty, probably", he interjected. I ploughed on.
"... is going to work further on. There could be well over fifty pages in this photobook at least, I reckon." He tipped his head on one side, and raised his eyebrows. "Oh, go on - you know you want to!", I sighed. "What's an MVP, then?"
Turns out it's a Minimum Viable Product. And it's how to Get Stuff Done these days in programming circles. Don't waste time trying to perfect what you're doing; get it up and running, and modify it later when you either get feedback or its deficiencies make themselves clearer as you use it.
"You see?" he said? "Simples!" (as our advert Meerkat friends are fond of saying). Sounds like a plan. So here we go: opening spread. (MVP tip number 2 - don't do the Title page or Contents till last.)
(Text: How did we come to decide on Costa Rica? Ah well, there’s a back story, as journalists say. Many moons ago, when Sarah first talked about her sabbatical and what she might want to do in it, South America featured large: happy memories of her first trip to Mexico, the possibility of visiting a friend in Argentina, and anything else that would fit into five weeks. “You could come and join me for a bit of it!” she smiled. “I could!” I replied, truthfully not really believing it at the time. But as the months in 2014 slid by, it began to seem possible. “I’ll look after Dad”, promised Himself. “The weekend you’re away, I’ll come up”, offered Bro. “It’ll be a mum-and-daughter adventure”, was how we began to talk of it. But where, exactly? Some countries were politically too unstable. Cuba? Hmm, hurricane season. How about Costa Rica? asked a colleague of Sarah’s, who’d worked there and loved it: ecologically green, safe, tropical. We googled, borrowed The Lonely Planet book from the library, perused the Rough Guide bought in a charity shop and then, late at night on the 28th of August, we sat with phones on speaker-mode and fingers on our respective keyboards a hundred and seventy miles apart. Juggling with differing flight combinations, seat reservations, dates, time zones and treble-checking everything, we finally took a deep breath on the Air France website and pressed Book Now: Sarah would be heading out first on the 15th October, I’d join her for the last nine days and we’d fly back together. It was really happening! They flashed by, the subsequent weeks, in a blur of myriad choices about where to stay, how to get there, what we’d like to do. My Bookmarks began to fill with info on mosquito-repellant clothes, footwear for the jungle, and packing light. There were Away Lists - insurance, visas, currency; Home Lists - documents, Dad’s medication, appointments, what-to-do-ifs ... And then, suddenly, it was time.)
Next up in the gaining-momentum-on-Monday stakes, pondering what else could be shifted forwards with an MVP. Or perhaps I could just get going with an MVA? (Minimum Viable Action). I thought I had just invented that, but I've googled it and hey! I haven't :(. Wishing you a productive day!