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.

5 bites of advice for making things

Horray, it’s alpha day! Today we launched a private alpha version of the Minimum Viable Book to around 100 people. We’re testing 10 content items in a few different formats to see what our readers like the most.

If you missed out on an alpha invite, don’t dismay. We plan to open up a few more spots on our alpha soon, so get in touch.

We are also already planning a beta version that will be publicly available in both digital and paper formats with some help from our friends at the Newspaper Club.

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this video ‘5 bites of advice for making things’ featuring the thoughts of:

  • Mike Langford, Producer-Presenter of Locapour.tv, a show that celebrates locally brewed beer.
  • Veronica Roberts, Curator for The Blanton Museum of Art, one of the foremost university art museums in the United States.
  • James Adam, Founder of digital product development company, Exciting.io.
  • Jo Lammert, Studio Producer and Founder of Games Development company, White Whale Games.
  • Scott Bellaware, Freelance Agile Coach.

We’re always looking for awesome people to interview. If you’re someone who makes stuff, any kind of stuff, we’d love to talk to you.

More soon!

Emily & Amy

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