September 18, 2016 -

Killer Ops: Minimum Viable Product?

Series - Minimum Viable Product

by Kevin Gepford

How does Creative Ops define MVP? Validating an idea by identifying the smallest things that could be done to get results.

Why it Matters By starting small you test your ideas, as well as gain momentum, experience and credibility in your quest to make a bigger difference.

Product Managers talk about Minimum Viable Product as a way of building a prototype with just enough features to gather validated learning about the product and its continued development.

One of the things I love about this idea is that its goal is to learn the most about a product with the least amount of effort. It’s inspiring. I should acknowledge that the term MPV has a very specific meaning in the world of Product Management. In order to emphasize practical ways out the specific benefits to Creative Ops, I’ve appropriated the term and tweaked that classic definition to suit my own ends.

I propose that, for our purposes, a Minimum Viable Product might be something we could actually do using the least amount of effort, fewest resources, and without disruption in daily operations. We can validate our idea by taking visible action – or even several small actions.

The ideas you’re validating could include: “Does your team have the capacity to adapt and change to new demands from the business?”, or “What is my personal capacity to implement change?” At its essence, it could be thought of as mini-makeover of our Creative Operations. As I see it, this could be a grassroots, or guerrilla operation. And the experience will give us some little proofs-of-concept that lead into the bigger ideas we’re working on — which will play themselves out on a larger stage and require organizational support.

Keep in mind that only you know what better Creative Ops looks like in yourorganization. But we share the same goal of improved and even innovative operations — processes, structure, people, and the tools needed to make it all work.

We can consider anything that meets the following criteria:

  • Tweaks current processes
  • Uses free or existing tech resources
  • Doesn’t need high-level permission
  • Doesn’t involve capital expenditure
  • Doesn’t require hiring
  • Does help morale
  • Doesn’t make people afraid that layoffs are coming
  • Can be explained in two sentences
  • Can be done without having to announce it
Here’s the assignment:

What can you do now, on your own and with the resources you have, to improve operations?

  • A Minimum Viable Product could include:
  • Build a template library for all your deliverables
  • Try using Slack
  • Create a Wiki page to introduce freelancers and consultants to your culture and process
  • Create a Wiki page for frequently asked questions
  • Develop an online Brand Style Guide
  • Create Digital Toolkits for video
  • Change your meeting formats to standup
  • Hold post-mortem meetings after a campaign has finished
  • Stop padding your deadlines
  • Push approvals down a level, to free up creative director time
  • Buy your team beer on Fridays
  • Can be funded from OPEX

In the longer term, of course, we’re aiming for bigger changes. But there’s a lot of work ahead to do to get ready for that.

Our final plan will require bold proposals and take more resources. It could involve:

  • Shooting for the stars!
  • CAPEX
  • Business case
  • Permission from IT
  • Permission from director of finance
  • Permission from SVPs
  • Hiring of consultants
  • Hiring new staff
  • New lines of reporting
  • Deploying new digital tools
  • Change management
Bottom Line

Test your Creative Ops Chops and start where you are — focus on what’s possible, try some small changes, and watch and learn from it.


About the Killer Ops series:

How can creative teams increase their Value Proposition? How can they become better strategic partners in the organization? Following the entrepreneurial model of Product Development, creative teams – and organizations – can learn to think and act like a startup, to develop a framework for continuous innovation, improved operations, and greater success.

Published by: Kevin Gepford in Creative Ops, Part of a Series