You know what the Minimum Viable Product is. (If you never heard about it GO HERE) It is fundamental for any startup effort, or even introducing a new product or process. There is a different use for the same thinking though.
As the question, What are the minimum set of features that I need, to satisfy a need?
Around this question is where utilitarian products live, but also where design gets simplified. It’s where the iPod, or the Model One by Tivoli come from.
Recently, I saw one of the most extreme versions of this thinking. We were in France, in transit for our travels. And while we are doing what tourists do, walking around aimlessly, we hear a siren (you know, the european siren type, those that have two tones and go tee-taa-tee-taa). We are expecting a big hunk of an ambulance, but instead, a small coupe hatchback passes us negotiating traffic.
Coming from my frame of reference, I ask myself “What is that good for? How on earth are they going to rescue someone with THAT type of vehicle?”. And obviously, I am missing the point.
The most urgent thing to do is not to transport the person affected. The priority is to get the medics on-site as soon as possible and stabilize the patient. For example, cardiac arrest requires CPR to be performed in minutes. Once first aid is administered, the patient can be safely transported to the hospital if needed.
The arrangement that SAMU (that’s the name of the French emergency services) has put in place, is less expensive than the big ambulance, it is more agile, as a small vehicle can negotiate traffic easier among the narrow streets of a city like Lyon, and it is as -if not more- effective in delivering the much needed first-aid to the patient on-time. As it happens to be, they even have medics on motorbikes!
When trying to solve for a problem, it pays to let go of biases, and ask yourself, What is what I REALLY need to solve for this?