The two most popular methods for product development in recent years are Lean UX and Agile. While both of these approaches have their pros and cons, many organizations find that a combination of the two is the best way to get work done efficiently and effectively. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits and drawbacks of both Lean UX and Agile so that you can make an informed decision about which approach is right for your organization.
Waterfall vs. Agile vs. Lean
There are three main approaches to software development: waterfall, agile, and lean. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
The waterfall is the traditional approach to software development. It is linear, with each phase of the project being completed before moving on to the next. This can make it easy to track progress and ensure quality control, but it can also lead to delays if problems are found late in the process.
Agile is a more flexible approach that allows for changes and adaptation as the project progresses. This can be beneficial in a rapidly changing environment, but it can also lead to scope creep and confusion if not managed properly.
Lean is a hybrid of waterfall and agile that emphasizes continuous improvement and customer feedback. It can be adapted to different projects and team sizes, making it versatile, but it can also be difficult to implement properly without experienced guidance.
Common Agile Frameworks
There are a number of common agile frameworks in use today, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The most popular agile framework is Scrum, which is a lightweight and flexible framework that is well-suited for small teams. Other popular agile frameworks include Kanban and Extreme Programming (XP).
Discovery and User Research in Agile
In any successful agile project, discovery and user research play a critical role in unearthing insights that inform the product roadmap. At its core, discovery is about understanding the problem space, while user research helps to understand the people who will use the product.
Through discovery, teams can develop a shared understanding of the problem they are trying to solve and the users they are designing for. This understanding informs the entire product development process, from ideation to launch. User research is essential to uncover insights into user needs and motivations.
Both discovery and user research require close collaboration with stakeholders and team members. In an agile environment, this collaboration is ongoing throughout the project lifecycle. Discoveries made early on may need to be revisited as new information arises; user research findings should be used to inform iterations on the product itself.
The goal of both discovery and user research is to generate insights that will help create a better product. In an agile setting, these insights are constantly informing the development process, ensuring that the final product meets the needs of users.
Lean Methods for Ideating and Defining Solutions
In order to ideate and define solutions effectively, it is important to use lean methods. The first step is to identify the problem that needs to be solved. Once the problem has been identified, it is important to come up with as many potential solutions as possible. After that, it is time to start narrowing down the list of potential solutions by looking at what will work best given the resources available and the constraints of the situation. Finally, once a solution has been selected, it is important to define it in as much detail as possible so that everyone involved knows what needs to be done.
UX Work in the Product Backlog
Assuming your product backlog is in good shape, your UX work should be able to flow pretty naturally from there. If you’re not familiar with the term, “backlog” simply refers to the list of features or tasks that need to be completed in order for your product to be considered “done.” In Agile development, the backlog is constantly being refined and prioritized so that the team always knows what needs to be worked on next.
As for how UX fits into all of this, there are really two ways you can approach it. The first is to think of UX as just another type of work that needs to be added to the backlog. This means that every time a new feature is added, you’ll also need to add any necessary UX work (like wireframing, user testing, etc.) This approach can work well if you have a dedicated UX team whose sole job is to focus on the user experience.
The second way to approach UX work in the backlog is to treat it more like a cross-functional discipline. This means that everyone on the team – not just the UX specialists – should be thinking about ways to improve the user experience. This can be done through things like pair programming, where developers and designers work together on code and design respectively. Or it could be something as simple as adding a quick usability test to every sprint.
Both approaches have their own set of pros and cons, so it really comes down to what makes sense for your
Sprinting Through Iterative Design and Delivery
Sprinting through iterative design and delivery is a key component of Lean UX. It allows teams to rapidly prototype and test new ideas without incurring the costs and risks associated with traditional waterfall development processes.
Agile sprints are typically two weeks in duration, during which time the team designs, builds, and tests a new feature or set of features. At the end of the sprint, the team assesses what has been learned and decides whether to continue with the feature (if it was successful) or pivot to something else (if it was not).
This iterative approach to design and delivery reduces risk and maximizes learning, which is why it is such an important part of Lean UX.
Retrospectives for Reflection and Improvement
In order to reflect on their past performance and improve for the future, many teams choose to hold retrospectives. Retrospectives can take many different forms, but they all aim to give team members a chance to share their thoughts and feelings about the work that was done, identify any areas that need improvement, and come up with plans for making those improvements.
There are many different ways to run a retrospective, but one common approach is to use the “good-better-best” method. This involves team members taking turns sharing something they felt went well during the work period, something they feel could have gone better, and something they think would have made the work even better. This approach can help teams identify both areas of strength and areas that need improvement.
Another common approach is the “start-stop-continue” method. This involves team members sharing something they would like to start doing, something they would like to stop doing, and something they would like to continue doing. This can be a helpful way to identify new processes or habits that could improve the team’s work going forward.
Whatever method is used, it’s important that retrospectives are conducted in a safe and respectful environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. Retrospectives can be an incredibly valuable tool for teams who want to continuously improve their performance.
Making Agile More Manageable
There are many ways to make agile more manageable, but one of the most important is to ensure that everyone on the team is on the same page. One way to do this is to have daily stand-ups, where everyone gives a brief update on what they’re working on. This can help identify any potential issues early and ensure that everyone is aware of what others are doing.
Another way to make agile more manageable is to use a tool like Jira, which can help track progress and ensure that everyone is aware of deadlines. Having a clear understanding of what needs to be done and when it needs to be done can help keep the team focused and avoid any last-minute scrambling.
Finally, it’s important to remember that agile is all about constant iteration and improvement. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it up and try something new. The goal is always to learn and grow, so embrace change and be open to new ideas.