“Agile doesn’t have a brain.” This quote from Bill Scott, VP, Business Engineering and Product Development at PayPal, is provocative for sure, but it spotlights the notion that in most organizations Agile is primarily applied as a downstream engineering approach that isn’t inherently concerned with optimizing product design and user experience, the determinants of value to the customer. The learning cycles that form the basis of Scrum are focused on verification and validation of user needs as they are already identified in the backlog’s user stories, but provide little guidance on how to translate organizational goals and customer needs into the backlog’s content and relative priorities in the first place. As a result, the danger persists that Agile teams end up very efficiently building products that implement an incomplete and subjective perception of customers’ wants and needs.
In this session we will explore how Lean thinking can expand the “inspect and adapt” cycles of Agile development beyond implementation and help to systematically determine which features and design choices really provide the greatest customer value. After a brief introduction to Lean concepts, we will discuss how Lean approaches product development as a series of hypotheses about customers’ value perception and builds on Agile’s rapid iterative delivery of working software to test these assumptions. Finally, we will examine ways to derive testable assumptions from organizational goals, such as the Lean UX Hypothesis Statement template and Gojko Adzic’s Impact Mapping.
Mathias Eifert is a business analyst and solutions architect with more than fifteen years of public and private sector consulting experience. He has used Lean and Agile concepts in a variety of roles, including as a Lead Business Analyst, Solutions Architect, Developer, Senior Process Improvement Engineer, Statistical Quality Control Consultant and Agile Coach. He applies his diverse experience to help his clients realize the full benefits of IT and firmly believes that BA and UX are essential contributors to Lean's concept of optimizing the whole value stream.