Agile Sprint One: Getting the UX Right
Updated: Dec 8, 2018
I’m a believer that Agile has many flavors, and that when we’re creating an innovative and holistic user experience, the customer lives in the beginning, middle and end. When I refer to the user experience, I’m not referring to the UI, but the whole UX enchilada. I invite constructive dialogue in the spirit of making sense of the fuzzy front end of innovation, UX, and the controversy around “Sprint Zero”.
“What if we found ourselves building something that nobody wanted? In that case, what did it matter if we did it on time and on budget?” - Eric Ries
I’ll start with a personal journey. We were looking for ways to help people find the best car solutions for their respective lifestyles. What would their full circle, ideal experience be? We were at the very fuzzy front end of innovation.
“Watching, participating, asking and being in the same psychic and physical spaces and places as consumers enables us to understand and articulate their stories.” - Idris Mootee
Sprint Zero or Sprint One?
We started with anthropology, empathy and seeking to understand. By sprinting, literally and figuratively, we gleaned the customer insights we needed. We went back out into the streets with prototypes. Some of the ideas were epic fails, but all of them got us closer to the truth.
We took the fruits of our labor, our HCD research, and tested the boundaries of our cross-functional capabilities. We synced the features, using our scrum teams to execute stories that brought the minimally marketable feature to life. In Scrum, Sprint Zero is a hotly debated topic, since the yield is supposed to be a usable working output. But isn’t getting the UX right critical to getting clarity around the fuzzy front end of what your customer value add will be? In the Scaled Agile Framework, Lean UX is a small part of the picture, and in my opinion, maybe too small.
Back to the fuzzy front end
I think we veer off course when we start building without truly understanding what the customer wants. Yes, we should be delivering value now. We should test our hypotheses and fail fast. But this critical customer insight work needs to happen early and often. It has to begin at the large solution level, down to the program level, and then back up. The customer is central in the fuzzy front end, and throughout all iterations. I think UX is Sprint One because it’s a value adding sprint. It could be a little slower, but with a functioning piece of work (a malleable concept) being the output.
“If you guide an untested product to fruition and it fails, you could be losing far more time and money: more than if you tested it through front end innovation.” - Amelia Schrader