MVL – Minimum Viable Leadership

One recent trend in product development is “minimum viable product,” i.e., do not develop anything beyond a bare minimum product that is sellable. The goal is to test if the market is there for this product. Afterward, you adjust the product as needed.

In the digital world, among digital employees running digital projects, the idea is that leadership should be handled differently than by those who lead technical or commercial teams. However, our experience does not support that digital leadership is different. It is just denser, more concentrated.

The essence of great leadership is the same as great product development, what we call “Minimum Viable Leadership.” It is important to know everyone on your team individually so you can match each person with an appropriate dose of both challenging (FIRE) and safeguarding (SHIELD). You do what is required in the situation – no more, no less. You don’t neglect anyone, you just focus on each person 100% for a short, intense time, and then move on. The goal is to find the right blend of both to match each person’s capabilities and strengths.

What is Minimum Viable Leadership in practice?

First, you need to be authentic, someone who does not BS and is honest. If you cannot be honest about something, do not lie. Instead, explain that you cannot provide them with an answer right now. In digital leadership we often work with people who are even less impressed with BS than the average person, with a BS-radar that works perfectly.

Second, you have to be clear, intelligent, and concise so that you can communicate what is needed quickly and then get out of their hair. The recommendation is to have 5-10 minutes of intense conversations on a daily basis. Focus on providing direction, not telling them what to do. Don’t micromanage, and do not destroy or interrupt the flow (=i.e. no unscheduled interruptions unless it’s life or death). Respect that, in most cases, you do not have a clue as to what your team does. Your job is to know how it fits into and benefits the rest of the organization.

The more you need to be a digital leader, the more necessary it is to clean up old habits. As in any digital project, if you do not clean up before you proceed, your leadership style in a digital work environment will be lackluster. Minimum Viable Leadership forces you to focus on what is truly important