A minimum viable product is “…that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”1 i.e. a product or offering with the smallest amount of functionality that (dis)proves something about the viability of the product. The term gained popularity in 2009 thanks to Lean Startup1.
(Compare to an MMP: minimum marketable product, which is focused on earning revenue as opposed to learning something about the product viability.
In 2009, Eric Ries released The Lean Startup, outlining his methodology for spinning up a startup that can iterate and adapt to the (“blue ocean”) market, without the overhead and expense of a long development pipeline.
The “lean” methodology advocates early experimentation and feedback loops (over forecast planning) as a way to reduce the risk of business failure.
From the diagram, lean looks very much like agile software development, with a strong focus on the completion of an MVP.