What we learned from the Alpha release

As we are OH so close to publishing our beta version of the Minimum Viable Book, we thought it would be a good time to share some of the feedback and lessons learned from our alpha release last year.

The Alpha test group

The Minimum Viable Book alpha experiment was released by invitation-only to roughly 100 people in 2014. These folks had been very engaged with us over the previous year, either by attending workshops, interviews or interacting with us on email and twitter.

We asked these awesome people to read 10 article-length pieces of content online, each with a slightly different format, tone and topic and leave us a rating along with comments.

A few gems from our feedback bank

We noticed that the more thought-provoking, passionate or personal the article content was, the more positively a reader ranked the article:

“People really connect with people and stories about people, so this is a fab way of doing it.”

“I enjoy reading about entrepreneurs and what drives them.”

Most of our alpha articles were quite short and snappy, so they often lacked in-depth examples of how the person applied the concept we described to their work.

“Examples/case studies of how others do/manage process-improvements are really useful.”

“I would’ve found it useful to have concrete examples”

One of the content formats we tested was a simple, but neatly laid-out interview transcript. The idea behind this was to let readers take what they wanted from the interview, rather than us analysing it for them.

“I don’t think the quotes read well. There are just purely transcribed. I think you need to rewrite them to actually make more sense. It’s more important to get the sentiment that was being put across rather than the exact words used.”

“I was confused at the beginning what this was even about, if I wasn’t trying to help, I probably wouldn’t have kept reading. It took me a while to figure out how this might be relevant to me, even after I read the article.”

“I’m confused. I don’t understand how the individual content nuggets, fragments and formats are meant to be read together (if at all) and what binds them together.”

The video format went down well, with almost all participants leaving quite a lot of positive feedback for this format.

“Video > Writing”

“Love the videos”

“I liked the brevity. Saying useful things quickly. The idea being that you can then go and act on the advice.”

“Nice soundbites on the topic; good insights from people who have done it.”

Finally, we also found a couple of comments about a few grammatical mistakes, so we’ve decided to work with a proper grown-up sub-editor on the beta!

The beta

We are close to the release of a beta version of the Minimum Viable Book, and this will be available to buy in a printed newspaper format very soon. We’ve learned from our Alpha feedback, and decided to include many more in-depth examples, analysis and visuals around a central theme that ties the narrative altogether. We’ll be releasing another video too, although not in the newspaper, obvs ;).

In this first newspaper issue, we’ll be featuring stories that explore the positive force of 3D printing on hardware innovation and traditional industries; plus, the links between iteration and diminishing improvement of technology in large organisations. And so much more.

Join us!

If you’d like to contribute in any way, we’d like to hear from you. Drop us line.

The people of the Minimum Viable Book

We have never, ever had a bad interview for the Minimum Viable Book. No really.

I leave every interview with a little buzz on, saying “one more thing!” and “I can’t believe our time is already up!” Writing these ‘making of’ posts – and writing our actual book – has really made me pause and wonder why that is.

If I had to guess, I’d say the awesome, head-expanding vibe is something to do with the people who dare to reply to our interview requests.

People preoccupied with doing the thing

The folks we’ve been contacting often know very little about the principles of agile and lean, but they are very experienced in doing the thing they do. We look for makers and doers of all kinds of cool and kooky things around the world. These people are normally so preoccupied with getting their UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) off the ground, or running a laser cutting studio, or helping kids learn after school, that they’ve hardly had time to reflect on the way they do things.

And why would they? They are part of a movement of people who ignore the dogma, start small, take tiny calculated risks, iterate as fast as possible and are/will be the ones responsible for a new wave of innovation in their industry. The way they do things changes all the time.

Curious and generous people

They are the people who responded to an email, from strangers, out of the blue, asking if they could find some time for an interview about ‘making things happen’. They were curious and generous enough to give up their time for a chat about something random and abstract. They took a leap into the unknown.

We’re currently writing about the slow, risk-averse innovation cycles in consumer aviation verses UAVs after speaking with Mathieu Johnsson, an aerospace engineer from Bristol UK. We’re also writing about the emphasis of teaching kids to put effort in, rather than teaching kids to ‘get it right’ after speaking to Catriona Mclay from the Hackney Pirates.

Our minds continue to expand after every conversation, and we can’t wait to introduce you to these folks in our newspaper beta release in February 2015.

Making-of stories on the horizon

Hello Minimum Viable Book followers, it’s me Amy, checking in to tell you what we’ve been up to over the past few months.

While we’ve had our heads tucked into all kinds of weird and wonderful interviews, we realise we’ve left you all patiently waiting in the dark, sorry about that. To make it up to you, we’ll be writing a series of blog posts to bring you up to speed with the making of the Minimum Viable Book.

Here are some of the ‘making-of’ stories we’ll be covering in the coming weeks:

The alpha release
We had an overwhelming response and some really useful feedback on the alpha content. We’ll share some stats and some decisions.

Interviews interviews interviews
When we set-off down the path of running 4 workshops in 4 locations around the world, we weren’t expecting the random wacky interviews we squeezed in around the edges that really delivered the gold. We evolved our questions as we went, so we’ll tell you all about that.

Minimum Viable Book Tuesdays, Trello and Google Drive
We fit our Minimum Viable Book activities around full time jobs, weddings, start-ups and life so we need to be extremely organised and aligned on our approach to Minimum Viable Book content and interview scheduling!

Re-setting our target to February, visiting Bristol and Australia
Because content! Over the next few months, we’ll be targeting a few key interviews and wrapping up our content for a beta release (which will be available in a printed newspaper format). We’ll also be visiting our friends in Bristol to surface some of the stories that came up during our workshop last year. Amy will also be heading to Australia to chat to a few cool people who reached out over the interwebs.

Stay tuned MVBers.

Amy and Emily

Introducing the Minimum Viable Book Alpha

Thank you all very much for your ongoing support and interest in the Minimum Viable Book.

Over the past ten months, we have travelled to a few spots in the UK, Germany and the United States. We’ve met some truly generous folks who were willing to share their stories about making things happen. We’ve been on a mission to remove the buzz words, copyrighted processes and rigid methodologies (Oh yes, even agile and lean has these), and simply talk about what works and what doesn’t through tangible examples.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to contact everyone who signed up, but that doesn’t mean we won’t in the future. We hope this project carries on and on for quite some time yet.

We’d like to thank everyone who took part in one of our four workshops around the world, and also those who shared their stories in one-on-one interviews. Our minds have really expanded in the past year.

We’ve been juggling our Minimum Viable Book discovery and research activities with our full time jobs, so we haven’t been able to go as fast as we would have liked. We all have to pay the bills right?

BUT finally, we have some news: we’re almost ready to release our Alpha. Hoorah!

We’re putting the finishing touches on it, but here’s what we can tell you now:

  1. It’s not a book! We want to test a non-linear, topic-based collection of stories (initially in simple html)
  2. We are trialling ten content items and formats
  3. Each content piece has a slightly different style and structure and uses media in a different way
  4. The content will initially be available to read by invitation-only
  5. We’ll be analysing the statistics and sending surveys to help gather some feedback
  6. Once we have your feedback, we’ll plan a next iteration. Exciting!
  7. Our release date is currently planned for Wednesday the 30th of July

There’s still time to register your interest in taking part. Who knows, you might be selected for our Alpha.

We’ll check in with you all soon. Ciao for now.

Emily & Amy

Featured image by Azrasta

Guten tag people who make things happen in Berlin, Germany

Guten tag people who make things happen in Berlin, Germany. We want YOU!

We’re looking for volunteers from a broad spectrum of people to contribute to the Minimum Viable Book via interview or by contributing to our workshop at the People in Beta Festival. Whether you make websites, tables, craft beer, policies, software, household appliances, art or ice cream – we’d like to chat to you about your process.

Join our workshop

When: Saturday, 28th September 2013
Where: People in Beta Festival, Betahaus Berlin, Prinzessinnenstraße 19-20, 10969
Ticket cost: €10 (this fee is going to the festival organisers to cover their costs)
Links: Book on EventBrite, Facebook event.
More: you’ll be getting involved in some hands-on exercises aimed to help participants share stories about their experience with Agile, Lean and generally getting things done. Everyone who attends will not only be given the opportunity to discuss their process of experimenting and course-correcting, you’ll get a proper citation in the Minimum Viable Book.

Take part in our interviews

We have a very limited number of interview slots available on Saturday & Sunday afternoon. If you’re interested in chatting to us, please do drop us a line to to say hi.


Image by Jörg Kantel

Calling all those who make things happen in Austin, Texas

Calling all those who make things happen in Austin, Texas. We want YOU.

Hmmm that’s quite a broad call-out, isn’t it? Well yes, we want to talk to broad spectrum of people. Whether you make websites, tables, craft beer, software, household appliances, art or ice cream – we’d like to chat to you about your process.

What do I have to do?

Tell us your stories while we’re in Austin during October 14-18, 2013.

We’re looking for interesting people who would like to contribute to our book about Agile, Lean and making things happen, either via a face to face interview, or by applying to participate in our workshop at MakerSquare on the evening of Tuesday October 15. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be an expert on Agile and Lean or even know what it is. Drop us a note over here if you’re interested in either activity.

In exchange, we’ll provide the coffee, beer and we’ll also properly cite you in the published book and on our website. You may even be selected to participate in our short-form documentary on the subject.

More about our project

We’ve embarked on a wild adventure to write a book about Agile and Lean, and we’re eating our own dog food by writing it in an Agile and Lean way. For us, that means entering into a discovery phase that surfaces stories and experiences around a set of topics that our (very!) broad target audience has told us they’re interested in reading about.

While the concepts of Agile and Lean are not so new to the tech and digital community, people in other industries are only just starting to catch on. We want to make this topic more accessible so we are paying special attention to the wonderful stories of people using an iterative, course-correcting approach in all kinds of skills and areas.

We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch!

Image by Ian Broyles.

Drumroll… Minimum Viable Book Workshops

Hi folks. This week we’re excited to announce our our first Minimum Viable Book Workshop plans.

Before we tell you all about it, here’s a quick note about how we’re selecting the workshop attendees.

We’ve had a great response and we’ve received lots of names and messages via our contact form – thank you! This is really encouraging. We will be shortlisting people who have registered their interest to attend our workshops so we can cover a range of skillsets and industries. If you’re not selected for a workshop, don’t worry. There will be plenty of opportunities to input & share stories via our surveys and one-on-one interviews. Stories from you are going to be a big part of this. Please keep in touch.


We will be conducting 4 workshops on 4 topics in 4 locations, with roughly 10 people. The details are as follows:

1. London, United Kingdom – 9th July (done)
What better place to start than in our home town? Hopefully this will give us a chance to hone the format a little in front of a home crowd. Thanks very much to Go Free Range for lending us your lovely Shoreditchy office space for the occasion.

2. Bristol, United Kingdom – 1st August
We’re on the look out for a suitable location, but we have our Minimum Viable Book mate Libby on hand with tips. Stay tuned for more deets. If you’re in Bristol, please get in touch.

3. Berlin, Germany – mid to late August TBC
This is where things get a bit more fuzzy. In true agile style, we’re focusing our planning attention on the nearer tasks. If you’re in Berlin, please get in touch.

4. Austin Texas, USA – September TBC
Again, very fuzzy details. Stay tuned. If you’re in Austin, please get in touch.

So as you can see, the real work is about to commence. As always, we’ll keep you posted.

Chapter Themes

This week we spent some time workshopping chapter themes and now we would love your input.

These chapter themes are going into a list we’re calling the Chapter Backlog. We’ll add ideas and hone this list all the time, but we’d like you to prioritise them for us. We are writing this book for you afterall.

The current Chapter Backlog is below and this is your chance to tell us what you most want us to write about. If you think we’ve missed something important, then please feel free to add a comment.

Continue reading Chapter Themes

Project Drivers, Hopes / Fears / Mitigations and Roles

OMG! We’re writing a book!

As promised, we intend to blog about our process of writing the Minimum Viable Book and this is the first of many posts to come. It felt right to kick off our process with an activity to understand why we want to do this project, so today’s post explains how we captured these insights.

The first workshop

The first activity from our agile toolbox was a post-up brainstorming session which we completed together in Amy’s kitchen. We agreed on a few topics to cover that would help us understand why we want to do this project and what we hope (& fear) the outcomes will be.

The topics we selected:

Continue reading Project Drivers, Hopes / Fears / Mitigations and Roles

Hello world

What’s all this about then?

Amy Wagner and Emily Webber are planning to write a book about agile practices (read more over here)

What’s it going to contain?

We have an idea, but we don’t know for sure yet. We’ll be using agile techniques to plan and write it, asking for input from others and testing it with users along the way. Sign up to the mailing list to keep up to date.