Minimum viable action

Having been a practitioner of minimum-viable concepts, starting with the Minimum Viable Product to the Minimum Viable Audience, I recently was excited to discover another similar concept. It’s called the Minimum Viable Action.

The big idea is to identify the smallest obvious step towards something and take the damn step. It’s pretty dang effective, especially if you’re the kind who’s a master procrastinator (like yours truly). The concept requires little effort and saves you from overthinking.

In his book, Effortless, author Greg McKeown shares how Reed Hastings started with a Minimum Viable Action when he first thought of launching a DVD rental service that evolved into the streaming giant it is right now. Reed began posting a DVD to see if it could be shipped without getting damaged and went from there. One small step at a time, and each step serves as a feedback loop for the next step.

Practising the Minimum Viable Action can be as simple as putting on your workout T-shirt the night before or your workout shorts/attire first thing in the morning before deciding on the next steps. For me, it’s getting inside the gym (I have a home gym) followed by getting down to the floor, taking some deep breaths, and then starting to warm up with easy body movements.

And there have been days when I leave the gym after those easy body movements. You have to listen to the body after all, but I end up training the other 99.99% of the time. Essentially, the micro-steps allow you to take a lot less cognitive overload than the idea of giving your best in a training session.

You don’t have to be a procrastinator to use the tactic. If you’ve been overwhelmed or have too much on the plate, think about the Minimum Viable Action you can take to get moving and go from there. Instead of worrying about the end goal, consider how best you can take the smallest step towards the goal.

It’s a small step, but you still make progress.

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