Why You Should Use MBIs in SAFe Instead of MVPs and MMFs

June 15, 2018 — Posted by Al Shalloway
The Minimum Business Increment (MBI) is the most significant concept I’ve seen in 20 years. It originates with Denne and Cleland Huang’s Software By Numbers. An MBI:
  1. Is the smallest chunk of value that can be realized
  2. Is all of what is needed to realize the value
  3. has value associated with it so we should be able to sequence our MBIs
 
This looks similar to the Lean Startup’s MVP but is considerably different. An MVP is about discovering if something has value and is being built around an already aligned team. MBIs are more about extending existing products where teams may or may not be aligned. 
 
While MVPs can be conceptually used as MBIs, they become an overloaded term that causes confusion. MMFs have this same problem (note, the book Lean UX never mentions MMFs). In any event, we should be finding only those parts of a feature that are in the MBI we’re working on. These may or may not be marketable.
 
By starting with MBIs, at the top, we can use an MBI mindset to first sequence our MBIs to know what order we’ll work on things and where to allocate our capacity. Then, as we decompose them, we know not to build anything that is not needed by the MBI. This provides us alignment, focus and fast realization of value.
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About the author | Al Shalloway

Al Shalloway is the founder and CEO of Net Objectives. With 45 years of experience, Al is an industry thought leader in Lean, Kanban, product portfolio management, Scrum and agile design. He helps companies transition to Lean and Agile methods enterprise-wide as well teaches courses in these areas.



        

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