“I love naming things that no one has named. When you do that you get new patterns and A Whole New World. This is especially true in the context of MVP.”
What brings you to work every day? Why do you do what you do? Those are deep questions, and every company has a unique answer that differentiates its aim. Manifesto puts that unique purpose in words for the World to see.
There are just a few startups out there who have realized the potential of a developed culture as a tool to stand out and only a couple of them are setting an example of how it can be done. Most startups, and their founders, are too focused on scaling too fast and are missing out on an opportunity to shape the real company culture with meaningful values from the ground up.
Why should startups have a Manifesto culture?
Everybody is on the hunt to get the best employees available. To attract them to your company, you need to stand out. The way to do this is not by paying them more money than anyone else (for the short term, that might actually work), but to create an awesome company culture, a company where the brightest people thrive and want to work and stay.
To shape a company’s internal organizational atmosphere—and to attract them perhaps you should consider developing a culture manifesto, i.e. define your organization’s core cultural values.
Apple is a great example in that regard. CEO Tim Cook stated the Apple Way six months before Steve Jobs passed away. That declaration left employees and investors believing that Apple will go on without Steve Jobs. Here is the summary of that declaration:
“Apple is on the face of the earth to make great products. We’re constantly focusing on innovating.We believe we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution. We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so we can focus on the few that are meaningful to us. We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination in order to innovate in a way others cannot. We don’t settle for anything other than excellence in any group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change. Regardless of who is in what job, those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well.”
What Manifesto means to us?
With the growth of our team we’ve been able to step back and spend more time looking at the big picture. Consequently, we tried to define what Manifesto means to us. What resulted was a (master)piece of paper that has become a cornerstone in how our company approaches building everything from our team to the actual products we validate!
And that Manifesto is – nothing more and nothing less! It’s an assembly of concentrate thoughts on a piece of paper. A short form which contains a string of alliance. One can say it’s a Culture phenomenon. Manifestos are best known for political movements! However, the emotion of such words can also motivate people to excel in the world of business and identify themselves with values they share.
Manifesto statements should focus on external goals rather than internal ways of working or thinking.
Still, those statements should guide both external interactions with community members, as well as it’s internal workplace culture. But, always keep in mind that Manifesto, in the first place, needs to be externally oriented, not an internal guide! Set values above tools!
A Manifesto is greater than organization! It should not be written if it’s not exceeding company’s boundaries.
“The highest values devalue themselves.” – Nietzsche
People are use to painfully simplify most of the complex ideas. We think that it’s better to say:
The highest values deconstruct themselves.
A Manifesto is an idea which has its own dynamic and its own pace! It provides specific ideas, with a deeper theme that drives many, but not all,members of the Manifesto alliance. You should treat Manifesto as your contribution to the society from which something greater is arising.
It needs to evolve and you with it!
“A text is not a text unless it hides from the first comer, from the first glance, the law of its composition and the rules of its game. A text remains, moreover, forever imperceptible. Its laws and rules are not, however, harbored in the inaccessibility of a secret; it is simply that they can never be booked, in the present, into anything that could rigorously be called a perception.” – Jacques Derrida
So the text plot thickens.
If you read this quote carefully—the meanings of a text (e.g. Manifesto) is not something that can ever really be nailed down. The text’s fancy structures (its “law and rules”) are not there to be deciphered. They’re not evidence of secrets that are locked away in the Manifesto’s inner depths.
Instead, reading a Manifesto is more like learning to play a chess game without anyone explaining it to you. You just, kind of, Pick it up As You Go along. And try your best to make peace with the fact that you’ll never figure out the Manifesto’s final and definitive “truth”—because it doesn’t exist.
Other players (members of the Manifesto alliance) will play the Manifesto-reading game by different rules and arrive at different truths. Because new ideas come from diverse ways of seeing things!
The purpose of the Manifesto is to be given to the community, without expectations to be fully implemented, but to be improved.
MVP WORKSHOP MANIFESTO
We believe ideas can be converted into measurable businesses. Businesses can be measured before they’re developed. Developed solutions can be validated by the customers from day one.
TIME & MONEY ARE EQUALLY IMPORTANT RESOURCES
- Failing fast is good because you try something else faster.
- Big spending doesn’t make your chances of success any bigger.
- If you minimize your feature set you maximize respect to your customers.
MAXIMIZE LEARNING & MINIMIZE TIME TO MARKET
- Being first is better than being better.
- Every new iteration should bring new knowledge.
- If an assumption is not risky than it’s not a valuable assumption.
TECHNICAL AND PRODUCT DEBT ARE NECESSARY & QUANTIFIABLE
- What can be measured can be managed.
- Trying to avoid the unavoidable is always a wasted effort.
Perfection is unmanageable and comes at immeasurable expenses
Recently we’ve organized the first Product Meetup in Serbia @Startit Center. The goal was to build a community around product management in general, and we’re happy to say that we’ve succeed. Around one hundred PM’s gather around to exchange information and expand their network. This MeetUp was the day when The World saw our Manifesto for the first time. And from that Manifesto, MVP Canvas was born, which you can find here:
We would be more than happy if you can make use of it in validating your ideas, hedging risks and building successful and scalable startups. Don’t hesitate to download it, it is FREE to everyone. It’s a token of our appreciation for lingering in this post!
We like to call our MVP Canvas Voltron. Let me tell you why. Have you ever watched Voltron: Defender of the Universe? If YES, you know what we’re talking about. In case you didn’t have that privilege, let me paint you a picture about Voltron.
Voltron is a story about a team of astronauts who pilot a giant Super Robot known as “Voltron”. Much like in our Canvas, there are pieces, individually strong, but when you put them together they can produce a force so strong that in Voltrons case, defends The Universe. Feel free to use this tool in order to defend, at least, your Time and Money.
Next blog post announcement
In next blog post, we’ll deconstruct our first Manifesto statement.
“Time once past cannot be brought back by any means. It is important to understand the value of time. In fact, time is more valuable than money. Time is very valuable partly for the reason that we are all only allotted a certain amount of time in our lives, and so we need to make sure that we use it wisely. Nothing can stop the flow of time. Time once past cannot be brought back by any means.” – Ivan Bjelajac
We hope our Manifesto & MVP Canvas can help others to think about Customer Development methodologies and building products in a new– more MVP – way. If so, we’ve accomplished our goals. If not that is completely fine, and we are glad that you spared the time to read this.
If you share the same values as we do – you can sign Manifesto right here, right now! Join the online community, just leave us a comment and we’ll invite you to productowning.slack.com channel. May the Force of Manifesto be with you!