Lean UX, as described by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden (Lean UX – Designing Great Products with Agile Teams, 2nd edition, 2016) is the evolution of product design and team collaboration. It takes the best parts of the designer’s toolkit, combines that with Agile software development and Lean Startup thinking, and makes all of this available to the entire product team.
Lean UX contains principles, a process and many tools and techniques (see the QRC Lean UX too).
The Lean UX principles
The foundational principles for Lean UX are the core attributes that any Lean UX team should strive to embody. Lean UX principles can be organized into three groups: principles to guide team organization, process and culture.
Principles to guide team organization are:
- Cross-functional teams
- Small, dedicated, co-located
- Self-sufficient and empowered
- Problem-focused team
Principles to guide culture:
- Moving from doubt to certainty
- Outcomes, not output
- Removing waste
- Shared understanding
- No rock stars, gurus, or ninjas
- Permission to fail (see YouTube video)
Principles to guide process are:
- Work in small batches to mitigate risk
- Continuous discovery
- GOOB (getting out of the building): the new user-centricity
- Externalizing your work
- Making over analysis
- Getting out of the deliverables business
The Lean UX Process
The lean UX process is a iterative cycle with four steps:
- Outcome, assumptions, hypotheses
- Design it
- Create an MVP
- Research & Learning
The first step Outcome, assumptions, hypotheses is about driving vision with outcome by defining the Project’s problem statement. Declare assumptions (4 types: Business outcomes, Users, User outcomes and Features) and transform assumptions into hypotheses (tactical and testable).
During step two Design it, you build a shared understanding, generate and converge ideas by using:
- Design Studio: problem definition and constraints, individual idea generation (diverge), presentation and critique, iterate and refine in pairs (emerge), team idea generation (converge)
- Design systems, style guides, collaborative design sessions, and simple conversations
In step three create an MVP you build the smallest thing you can make to learn whether your hypothesis is valid.
- Creating an MVP to understand value: get to the point, use a clear call to action, prioritize ruthlessly, stay agile, don’t reinvent the wheel, measure behavior
- Create an MVP to understand implementation: be functional, integrate with existing analytics, be consistent with the rest of the application
- Final guidelines for creating MVPs: it’s not easy to be pure, be clear about your learning goals, go small, you don’t necessarily need code, the truth curve
- Examples of MVPs: landing page test, feature fake (aka button to nowhere), Wizard of Oz
- Prototyping: paper, low-fidelity on-screen mockups, middle- and high-fidelity on-screen prototypes, coded and live-data prototypes.
In the final step, Research & learning the team is looking for feedback and performing research.
- Collaborative discovery: as a team review, decide who to speak, create interview guide, break your team into research pairs, arm each pair with a version of the MVP, meet the customer, interview and take notes, begin with questions, conversations, and observations, demonstrate the MVP, collect notes and customer feedback, switch roles
- Continuous learning: three users every Thursday, simplify your test environment, making sense of the research
- Monitoring techniques: customer service, on-site feedback surveys
Download QRC Lean UX: Lean UX (QRC, 170812) v1.0
The book is divided in three parts. The first part introduces Lean UX and explains the principles. The second part explains the process. The last part focusses on Lean UX in your organization. How can you integrate Lean UX and agile (staggered sprints, design sprint, dual-track Agile), what organizational shifts are needed to comply with the principles and to integrate Lean UX. The book ends with several case studies.
The reason I read this book is related to a next Leading SAFe 4.5 training class I will give. The new version SAFe 4.5 moved from UX to Lean UX and expanded on user experience development. SAFe 4.5 uses a slightly adjusted Lean UX process:
- Outcome hypothesis
- Collaborative design
- Build MMF (Minimum Marketable Feature, SAFe uses the MVP in the Lean Startup Cycle)
As a SAFe Certified Consultant, I would say a must read and not only for trainers. The book is easy to read and contains a lot of explanation and examples.
To order: Lean UX – Designing Great Products with Agile Teams
Why do you need to fail – by Derek Sivers
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