In an earlier post I talked about Eric Reis’ game changing book The Lean Start-up and Minimum Viable Product. This excellent blog post from Jeff Patton provides another layer of detail.

[Agile] Stories must be minimal marketable features

The term “minimal marketable feature” was first used in the book Software by Numbers. This book placed emphasis on the smallest portion of work that could be release into production and have value to its resulting customers or users.

To be marketable the feature needs to be large enough to be useful — probably larger than the teeny stories that take a couple days to build and seem to be best practice in Agile development today. A MMF may take weeks to build. But the important thing isn’t how long it takes to build, but that it be understandable and valuable to those who’ll receive it. To identify a MMF some folks ask the question “Would I announce it in my company’s product blog?” If it’s too tiny to mention, then it’s not a MMF.

This is an important part of Kanban development where the focus is on increasing value released from the development process. Each thing released must be valuable by itself.

via Kanban development oversimplified: a simple explanation of how Kanban adds to the ever-growing Agile toolkit.

Thus we can usefully describe a Minimum Viable Product as being composed of one or more Minimum Marketable Features. The rapid software changes promoted by Lean Software movement are typically small improvements to Minimum Marketable Features.