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Anti-Patterns that Stifle Lean UX Teams


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Presented at WebVisions May 2013 in Portland, OR.

What happens when you take teams that have traditionally not worked together closely? Teams that are used to the "delivery mindset" and instead try to bring great experiences to life in a collaborative manner?

All hell breaks loose!

We are all creatures of habit and we all bring baggage to the table. And events conspire to tear our teams apart. This talk takes the flip side of how teams work together well and instead looks at behaviors and events that can stifle team collaboration for Lean UX teams. 18 anti-patterns are used to sensitize you for what to watch out for as well as strategies to overcome each.

Published in: Design, Technology, Business

Anti-Patterns that Stifle Lean UX Teams

  1. lean ux anti-patterns@billwscott on twitterbill scott. sr. dir. user interface engineering @paypalwebvisions talk. may 23, 2013. portland.behaviors & situations that can stifle lean teams
  2. what is lean ux?background & principles
  3. lean startupfounded on build/measure/learnget out of the building (GOOB)invalidate your riskyassumptionsgo for the minimal viableproduct (MVP)fail fast, learn fastget to the pivot
  4. lean uxdesigning products for build/measure/learn (lean startup)requires 3 rules to be followed atall timesget to & maintain a sharedunderstandingform deep collaborationacross disciplineskeep continuous customerfeedback flowing
  5. principles of lean ux
  6. sharedunderstandingthe more understanding theless documentationbut this doesn’t mean ZEROdocumentationyou need whatever isrequired to gain andmaintain a sharedunderstanding1
  7. deepcollaborationstrong belief that ideas comefrom many different voicestrust is essentialall efforts never stray far fromcollaborative efforts2
  8. continuouscustomerfeedbackthis is the lifeblood of theteamgets rid of politicsturns a team outside-in3
  9. lean ux and paypalmy journey in championing lean ux @ paypal
  10. a good patterncontinuous customerfeedback (get out of thebuilding - GOOB)customer metrics driveeverythingthink it. build it. ship it. tweak itfail fast. learn fast.lots of
  11. fourdifferent PS3experienceslaunchedon same daylaunching the ps3experience16 different test cells2 different tech blogs weresimultaneously reviewing differentexperiencesfocus was on build/measure/learn
  12. paypal vs netflix
  13. paypal circa 2011roll your own.disconnected deliveryexperience. culture oflong shelf life. inwardfocus. risk averse.
  14. new dna @paypaljanuary 2012fleshed out ui layer that couldsupport rapid experimentationmarch 2012david Marcus becomes presidentof PayPalapril 2012kick off of lean project
  15. hermes projectwhiteboardto codecode to usabilityproduct/design/engineering teams usability/customerslean ux in action
  16. before leanux
  17. after leanux
  18. more transformations
  19. the anti-patternsproblems & situations i have seen stifle lean teams
  20. geniusdesignerall design emanates from anhuber designer. team doesn’tcollaboratively participate indesign/ideation.solution: Keep the inspirationof genius designer but bring inothers to brainstorm. focus onMVP (minimal viable product) totest with customersimmediately. critical to buildteam success early.
  21. tribal groupwhen a team is very smallmembers are forced to workacross disciplines. As soon asteam gets bigger, tribes reformaround skills. collaborationstops.solution: keep teamreasonably small. leaders ineach discipline must form atribe that works acrossdisciplines. keep collaborationhigh.
  22. strangerlean teams will form sharedunderstanding. however, whennew “stranger” joins weassume this hard earnedunderstanding will just happen.solution: the team mustimmediately stop and initiatethe newcomer. be patient,answer questions, resetvocabulary and enjoy the newvoice in the team. get back toregular cadence.
  23. bad habitsteams will often make a goodstart by trying out newbehaviors and seemingly leaveold behaviors behind. beware!old habits will creep back in.solution: you must do it longenough and be successfullong enough to ensure teammembers internalize the newhabits. build in checks andbalances that enforce newhabits.
  24. naysayerwith collaboration so importantit is key to believe in theprocess to create greatproducts. a single naysayercan bring the team down in aninstant.solution: the naysayer musteither learn new techniques orleave the team. often they havevalid concerns. channel thatenergy convergence time notdivergence thinking.
  25. visitorinput from outside the team isessential. however, watch out.people cycling in & out of theteam can cause the samedisruption that the strangeranti-pattern causes. alsoknown as swoop and poop.solution: customer trumpsvisitor. take input. test early andoften with customers. that isthe only “visitor” that ultimatelymatters.
  26. magic tooldesign & prototyping tools canaccelerate ideation and design.however, be careful, tools thatempower prototyping canenable designers to work inisolation.solution: use tools as meansto collaborate. never revert to“delivery” model of design.sketching is a real key toencourage collaboration. also“design in the wild” approach.
  27. going darkwhen a developer, productmanager, or designer goesdark for more than a day (ortwo) the team is losing valuablecollaboration.solution: working in isolationis necessary from time to time.however, limit to short periodsof time. make workcontinuously visible. balanceindividual productivity withgroup creativity
  28. change ofcadencechange of cadence is actuallya good and normal happening.however, whenever the rhythmchanges it can bringproductivity down.solution: prepare the teamfor the change and quickly getfocus and re-establish withnew cadence.
  29. too manycooksthe work needs to be dividedup among different types ofcooks (Chef de cuisine, Sous-chef, Chef de partie)solution: have clear decisionmakers in each discipline andhave specific roles (you canalso rotate these functions).
  30. not enoughpizzawhen a team suddenly scalesup in size the team is in dangerof losing cadence, sharedunderstanding and focussolution: keep teams to 2-pizza size. clear lines ofresponsibilities and laser focusfor the team must bemaintained.
  31. tower ofbabelshared understanding is key tolean ux. however, it is easy toassume too quickly that teammembers are speaking thesame languagesolution: always ask, “whatdo you mean by x?”. alwaysensure other disciplinesunderstand your jargon. spendtime with customers together.
  32. you got mailteams can revert to email overcollaboration. also, geo-graphically distributed teamscan fall into delivery by email vscollaboration.solution. utilize highbandwidth communication(face to face, hangouts,telepresence, magicwhiteboards, etc.) balance:asynchronous communicationis good.
  33. inmates runningthe asylumthis is from Alan Cooper’sclassic book of the same title.when engineers drive designthe inmates are running theasylum.solution. front end engineersmust partner with product/design and get out ahead ofbackend engineers (lean ux).experience debt is equallyimportant to technical debt.
  34. perfectionistnot embracing the challenge ofthe unknown, the perfectionistwill not share their work till it isperfect. easy for designers tofall into this trap.solution: engineers must notjudge rough designs, insteaduse as springboard fordiscussion. designers mustrealize iterative will yield betterdesigns. sketching can breakthis mindset. make it easy torelease experiences.
  35. weakest linkteam members who aren’t upto the challenge of closeproximity & transparency cancause a team to stumble.solution: talent acquisitionmust match this style ofproduct delivery. must havefreedom to replace talent. soft-skills are highly valued.
  36. the wallwalls between teams canhappen when• we allow tribes to form• we see the other teams asseparate delivery factories• geo-distributed teams• focus on documentationsolution: always work in smallteams, collaborating notdelivering and build sharedunderstanding. challenge everyhand-off point.
  37. tangled uptechnologyunless the technology stack is builtto have a clear separation fromexperience & services the leanteam cannot make rapid out when dev teams caretoo much about the specificversion of the UI.solution: key patterns includebuilding services, APIs and CLIs.Keep the services & UI separate.enable rapid experimentation.
  38. sharedunderstandingthe more understanding theless documentationbut this doesn’t mean ZEROdocumentationyou need whatever isrequired to gain andmaintain a sharedunderstanding1
  39. deepcollaborationstrong belief that ideas comefrom many different voicestrust is essentialall efforts never stray far fromcollaborative efforts2
  40. continuouscustomerfeedbackthis is the lifeblood of theteamgets rid of politicsturns a team outside-in3
  41. blogshttp://looksgoodworkswell.comhttp://designingwebinterfaces.comtwitterfollow me on twitter @billwscottbookpicture credits web interfacesO’Reilly