— Pure agile team with no experience working with UX
— Educating product and engineering on UX process and values
— Rapid growth
— Multi-city org
— Build 19 products at once, ready, fire, aim!
In the winter of 2015, a new agile coach joined the team in Minneapolis.
Suddenly backlogs were being pulled, our design system’s engineering resources were being questioned, and we repeatedly heard the refrain “that’s not agile.”
Hannah Grossman (our lead UX contractor in Minneapolis) and I had spent countless hours arguing for good UX process with the product and engineering teams in Minneapolis. This meant standards like user research, story maps, flows, and UX working closely with users and products preparing stories for engineering sprints.
She’d had difficult experiences with the agile coach in a prior role. We worked tirelessly for three weeks straight — I moved into the hotel across the street from our office in the middle of winter in Minnesota for long hours in small rooms.
The crux of our argument was around timing and terminology. The idea that design was working on anything without engineering was unacceptable to the agile coach. He felt strongly that stories should be defined as part of sprint planning, and that design and product should work in sprints with engineering.
To be clear, the “agile purist” approach can work for small teams and small application development. Iterate slowly towards a cohesive product. Engineering-led product development has done this for decades, but we were not a small team or a small product.
“The only thing of value in sprints is working code.”
— The Agile Coach
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan
Results over process. Creativity is messy.
Form is function. Design isn’t how it looks, it’s how it works.
Respect the user. Understand their wants and needs.
Test everything. You’ll never know until you take it to the user.
We're all designers. UX is everywhere, and the details matter.
Our agile coach was soon moved to a different role: leading a tech evaluation of an obscure multidimensional database we’d later become all too familiar with, called LogicBlocks.
Led UX role in team/tech/process merger
leading data science & planning platform
taking 100+ team in two cities to 500+ across ten cities worldwide
Repeatedly solved conflicts between product and development leadership teams. Fear, responsibilities, power grabs — UX navigated all of it and drove product towards solutions of soft and hard problems.
Elastic design process
Teams work in semi-autonomous pods
Internally open-source component library (design system) in Sketch & React
Lots. Of. Reviews. Collaboration+communication.
Integrated “concept car” roadmap exploration with user-centered design principles and agile methods, working with product teams to envision stories and app experiences years in advance, stress-testing product/roadmap/ architecture decisions and balancing team focus between short and long-term.