The Minimum Viable Team, A New Team Concept

Written by Edwin January 28, 2018

Most of us are very familiar with the MVP phenomena, a Minimum Viable Product. A product in it’s minimum form, as lean as possible. In other words, start building with the smallest form of your desired product. The Lean Startup and the Agile Methodology have made this MVP term common understanding. Good to start small, get experienced and grow bigger.

That is what you also want for a team. Imagine, starting as a small team with the most important ingredients of a successful team. From then on, building your team based on the experience you get with each other. Your MVT, Minimum Viable Team.

In a self managed organisation, like Incentro Rotterdam, the success of the company depends on the success of the teams within. So a minimum viable team is one of the key success factors. You want to handle that with care and do what it takes to make them successful.

Minimum Viable Team

A minimum viable team, should at least meet the following criteria:

1. Common purpose

A common visionon the world is what brings the team together. That’s where it all starts. Why did we form this group in the first place? With that vision (or purpose) you create a goal you want to achieve.

These goals don’t have to be easy. It’s even better to create a goal that is far away and harder to achieve. Your team will get energy by pursuing this. Different theories are written about this topic. Especially the BHAG Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is a well known model.

2. Clear roles

Who plays which role in the team? The team is responsible and accountable for everything. So you have to think about all things needed to make it a success.

Think about roles as: Finance, Marketing/Sales and someone who cares about the team (coaching, recruitment). Define the responsibilities of every role to be as clear as possible.

3. Minimum number of employees

With fewer then 3 team members it is hard to call yourselves a team. So, 3 is the bear minimum. You are still very vulnerable for the world around you and it’s hard to divide the roles I wrote about above.

4. Balanced personalities

You need to have the right balance of personalities in order to complement each other in the team. Recently, Harvard Business Review wrote about the personalities in a team with the goal of 'Team Chemistry'.

The needed personalities are Pioneers, Drivers, Integrators and Guardians. The 'Belbin teamroles' is also a well known model. Whichever model you use, it’s important to have a balanced team.

5. Measurable Objectives

You have a goal and/or a common purpose. Now the complete team should be focused on getting to that goal, the best way possible.

And you should measure it. The danger of not measuring is that you don’t actually move towards the goal. The most famous way to measure success is by using the OKR (Objective Key Result) method.


These ingredients for an MVT are based on our experience at Incentro, but we would love to discover more.

Edit: a great visual has been made by Andy de Vale based on Edwin's blog post.

Written by Edwin
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