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The Agile & Lean UX News #135

Welcome to issue #135 of the Agile and Lean UX News. Curated by Quietstars and delivered to your inbox. Occasionally.

We’re just coming up to the end of the quarter — which means some of you are worrying about OKRs. Possibly for the first time! If you’re using OKRs and having problems — or adopting OKRS and want it to go smoothly — we’re running a 90m session that can help you spot & fix OKR issues early.

How to Write OKRs That Don't Suck, Oct 1st 2020
5-6:30pm BST | 12-1:30pm EDT | 9–10:30am PDT

You’ll leave the session with:

  • A list of common anti-patterns to avoid
  • A list of approaches and tips to help counter those anti-patterns
  • Worksheets & facilitation guides to help you and your teams create OKRs that don’t suck!

But enough about us — let’s get to the articles.

Articles of Note


Opportunity Mapping: An Essential Skill for Driving Product Outcomes

by Teresa Torres (@ttorres)

“How do we decide which opportunities are more important than others? How do we know which should be addressed now and which can be pushed to tomorrow? It’s hard to answer either of these questions if we don’t first take an inventory of the opportunity space. A single customer story might elicit dozens of opportunities. If you interview continuously, your opportunity space will always be evolving—expanding as you learn about new needs, contracting as you address known problems, and gaining clarity as you learn more about specific needs.”

Democratization Is Our Job

by Behzod Sirjani (@beh_zod)

“Democratization is a hot topic in our community right now, and unfortunately it's often talked about in binary terms - should we or shouldn't we? In this piece, I want to make clear that democratization is not about reducing the surface area for researchers, it's about increasing the surface area for what we consider research. Research has been done, and will continue to be done, by people who don't have "researcher" in their title. It's imperative that we improve the quality of their work, rather than pretend that it doesn't exist.”

Foundational Practices for Great Teamwork

by Daniel Szuc (@dszuc) & Josephine Wong (@igiwong)

“These lenses and the foundational practices that we’ve described can help guide people within environments and cultures to help them achieve authentic outcomes by being curious, listening with intent to advance their potential, and widening their perspectives to achieve healthier outcomes for the planet, other people, and themselves.”

The Design Systems Between Us.

by Ethan Marcotte (@beep)

“In my experience, design systems haven’t brought this kind of rich, cross-functional collaboration to most organizations. Instead, the existing divisions between design and implementation have become entrenched, and massively so. Now, this siloing isn’t because of design systems—not really. I can think of a few factors that contributed to the current state of things, and I’m going to look at each in turn.”

Working Towards User Research and Insight Libraries

by Stephanie Marsh

“I’ve now realised there are also different levels of sophistication between a research library and an insight library. Depending on how you define a research library. It could be a catalogue of research reports with metadata to describe the context of each report, which is a lot of work in itself. An insights library requires more curation, as it is extracting and cataloguing the meaning in the research.”

Worth Another Read


Continuous Discovery

by Marty Cagan (@cagan)

“Rather than a “Product Discovery Phase” where we come up with several weeks of validated product backlog items and deliver them to engineering, I encourage teams to do continuous product discovery — where we are constantly identifying, validating and describing new product backlog items. Some discovery work takes a few hours and other things can take longer, but it is an ongoing process of ideation, validation and description.”

Something for You To Watch


Mapping Your Maturity: How to Create Contextually-Appropriate Learning Models

(Marc Burgauer, 30 mins)

“Getting good at mapping anything takes time and needs varied experience and we don’t claim to have a fully formed method yet. But I hope that what I will share is enough for you to see the value in this emerging practice.”

Iterating Your Voice Product

(Lisa Vigar, 15 mins)

“Lisa Vigar takes us through the journey … of the BBC Voice for Kids Alexa app. She outlines some of the lessons learned around the challenges of developing voice products and working with children, and highlights the importance of detailed user research to engage and retain a regular audience (especially when your audience includes the complexity of parents and children!)”

The Importance of Empathy

(Jack Sheppard, 19 mins)

“Product designers such as Jack are often seen as the ones who should be championing empathy in the product world. We must remember that designers don’t monopolize empathy and it needs to be part of the overall culture. The key takeaways from his talk are that we need different experiences and interactions with different people to grow as product people. Also, using empathy is beneficial to people everywhere.”

Midwest UX Redux

Midwest UX had some great sessions last year. We think you will find these of especial interest:

The other sessions are well worth a look too.

Upcoming Events

Lean Agile Exchange, 10-11 September, Online

Lean UX & Product Discovery for Agile Teams, 15 September - 6 October, Online

Industry, 22-23 September, Online

How to Write OKRs That Don't Suck, 1 October, Online

#mtpcon London, 1-2 October, Online

UXDX, 6-9 October, Online

JAM, 12-17 October, Online

UCD Gathering, 15-16 October, Online

DesignOps Summit, October 21-23, Online

Quietstars help teams improve with tactical workshops, team coaching, personal coaching, and speaking & facilitation. Think we can help your product development teams? Have a question? Not sure where to begin? Visit to find out.

Adrian will be talking about OKRs for Agile Teams That Don’t Suck at the virtual Lean Agile Exchange conference next week — do say hello if you’re attending!

We’re going deeper into OKRs with our 90m online workshop How to Write OKRs That Don't Suck on October 1st (attending will also get you a discount on 1-1 personal coaching!)

Finally as you’ve probably already heard this year’s MTP London conference has been cancelled due to COVID-19 — including our one day user story mapping workshop.

Mind The Product should already have mailed you with the details — if not you should contact We’re currently investigating ways to run an online version of the workshop — if this is of interest let us know and we’ll keep you updated.

Have something that you think should be in this newsletter? Want to tell us what sucked or rocked about this issue? Drop us a line at

Until next time. Be excellent to each other.

Kathryn (too busy for twitter) & Adrian (@adrianh)

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