If you’re building a peace project, it’s important to understand what you’re creating in the product phase, so that you understand what you’re selling.

Many creators misunderstand the idea of a minimal viable product. The definition, created by the writer Eric Ries (he of Lean Start-Up fame), is as follows:

“A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is: “[the] version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort”

In essence, a product that doesn’t try to be perfect (what the peace builder may want) but instead is a product that “ships” (i.e. gets into the market, gets out the door, gets into the customer’s hands, etc.) so that peace builders can interact with the market, rather than think about interacting with the market, is an MVP.

This is where many peace builders get caught up:

The blog that takes you ten minutes to set-up and allows you to distribute your ideas, thoughts, and passions about peace to the market is an MVP. The pretty website around the blog that “has to just look right” is not an MVP.

The email that is a conglomeration of various links, information about peace building, and allows you to interact with fans, audience, and potential customers, and that takes you an hour to set-up and an hour to send out three times a week, is an MVP. The list of emails to send the email to is not an MVP.

The workshop on active listening that you develop after ten minutes of thinking about the problems with clients in conflict that you are seeing at the mediation table is an MVP. Continually changing, researching, and referencing to make the workshop “perfect” is not an MVP.

The interaction with social media platforms through setting up a business page on Facebook, tweeting and retweeting links to peace building producers in other areas, or the posts that you consistently write and put on LinkedIn are all MVPs. The constant worrying about perfection (or not being wrong in what you retweet on social media) cannot lead to creating an MVP.

The issues with developing an MVP is that many creators of peace building projects get caught up in the idea that a product (a workshop) a blog post, a website, an email, or a social interaction has to be perfect. But the secret of the MVP is that the market isn’t looking for perfection.

The market for your peace building project is looking for YOU. The people in conflict who need resolution, engagement, help, ideas, a process, or even just advice, aren’t looking for perfection. And in many cases, once you engage with them with your MVP, enough people are generous enough to give you help, feedback, and encouragement to develop and reiterate your MVP so that it moves from being “minimal” to “maximal”

Selling begins when peace builders have the courage to engage with the market.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
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