I was pleased again to be able to attend the Balanced Team conference this past weekend in San Francisco. Balanced Team is a conference about collaboration methods for technology development. It’s put on by a small group of designers, developers, testers and managers who are working to evolve new methods of cross-functional work.
What makes Lean UX Lean? What makes it different enough from other ways of working to merit its own name?
Lean UX is not some essential form of UX.
Some have suggested that Lean UX is about reducing UX work to its essence–that by taking a minimalist approach to our work, we can trim our work down to its essential elements–and that doing this makes our work “Lean.” While I believe there is great value in reducing our work to its essential elements, I don’t think this justifies the name Lean: it doesn’t capture the sense of the word evoked by Lean Startup, which is the connection to Lean Manufacturing and the Toyota Production System
At LUXr, we talk about the 9 Principles of Lean UX. And while they’re all important, for me, #8, “Recognize your hypotheses and validate them,” is the keystone, the one that makes the whole system stand up.
The keystone principle: recognize your hypotheses.
LUXr NYC will be hosting our next 2-day workshop on July 9-10 at Pivotal Labs in NYC. Come join me and Lane Halley at this fun and fast-paced weekend intensive.
The intensive is a two-day hands-on workshop for startup teams who want to improve the user experience of their product and for individuals who want to work more effectively by using lean user experience methods.
A few years ago, a development manager where I worked asked me to sit down for a chat. He had been running a very successful application development team that had done a great job adopting an agile development process. The cross-functional team had user experience designers from my staff, front- and back-end developers, business analysts, QA testers. They were a good unit, committed to collaboration and continuous improvement, one of the best teams in the company.
So I was surprised to hear how frustrated he was. “This isn’t going to work,” he told me, “unless we change the way executive management works around here. “They keep asking for feature X by date Y. That’s not how we’re doing our planning, not how we’re running our project. We need to figure out a way to get THEM to be agile!”
Recently, thanks to my friend Janice Fraser, I’ve had the good fortune of being exposed to the Lean Startup movement. I’ve been thinking and writing and talking about Lean User Experience for a few months now and have noticed that there doesn’t seem to be a simple explanation of the concept on the web yet. So this post is an attempt to fix that.
1. What is Lean User Experience?
Lean User Experience (LUX) is simply an approach to UX work that has been tailored to work in the context of a Lean Startup.
That’s it. It’s not a new, fancy thing. It’s not some special UX-on-a-diet, or UX-at-hyper-speed. It’s simply a context-appropriate way to do UX work.
2. That’s it? Why is that interesting?
It’s interesting for two reasons. First, for UX professionals, working in a Lean Startup culture offers some unique opportunities to do amazing work. And for entrepreneurs who are seeking to create value for their customers, the ability to do good UX work is key. UX people have been perfecting the core Lean Startup techniques of Customer Discovery and Customer Validation (the critical early phases of Customer Development) for 20+ years! Read the rest of this entry »
I saw this great post on Quora today from Isaac Hall, the co-founder of a Dropboxcompetitor. In a long, candid post, he talks about what he sees as the reasons for DropBox’s success. This part really jumped out at me:
If you’re starting a new company, the best thing you can do is keep your feature set small and focused. Do one thing as best as you possibly can. Your users will beg and beg for more functionality. They will tell you their problems and ask you to fix it. …. Until you have a lot of resources, stay focused on your core competency.