Better together: Agile + Lean UX

I’ve always liked Dave Landis’s diagram on how design thinking, Lean UX and agile go together. Something, however, always felt a little off that these elements still seemed separate over being integrated.

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Better together by Dave Landis

It took me til I went to Jeff Patton’s Passionate Product Owner course (CSPO) that I began to know what I didn’t know about product management and a view of its integration with Scrum. In essence, it confirmed what I had felt for a long time:

  • Backlog Refinement can be considered a discovery exercise
  • There’s no real reason why you couldn’t expand Backlog Refinement time to do more discovery work if and when it’s needed.

That’s not to say that Jeff was saying turn Sprint work into upfront discovery in the way some people do Sprint 0 — where there is no real Increment and they tend to engage in discovery activities until they feel comfortable to proceed with real Sprint-based work.
Jeff painted a picture of two paradigms — “pay to learn” and “pay to build”. At any time, a Scrum Team could be more focussed on one than the other. He also suggested that through delivery, the Scrum Team:

  • Learns from building and that this is often more valuable than just doing paper prototypes or similar experiments because the Development Team is actually assessing whether an idea can actually be built!
  • Learns about its customers from engaging with them (customers encompassing external and internal users and stakeholders) throughout the Sprint.
  • Has opportunities to pivot their solutions by using the Daily Scrum — which is a critical part of the Development Team’s inspect/adapt process.

So, what does all this look like? Well, this is something that I’ve been encouraging the Scrum Teams I’ve been coaching for over a year now.

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Agile Product Development: Pay to Learn/Pay to Build

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Matthew Hodgson

Matthew Hodgson

Founder of Zen Ex Machina. Scrum/Agile Coach. Designer of digital experiences since 1992. International presenter. UX & psych geek. Chocoholic. Loves red wine.

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