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The Agile & Lean UX News #115

Welcome to issue #115 of the Agile and Lean UX News. Curated by Quietstars and delivered to your inbox. Occasionally. We hope the sunnier weather is with you now and that we have something of interest for you this week.

Articles of Note


The (Messy) Shift to Starting Together

by John Cutler (@johncutlefish)

“Part of the reason autonomy gets sapped from a system is the omnipresent pressure on product (and others) to get upstream and try to figure stuff out. They don’t do this to intentionally sap the autonomy of anyone … they’re actually doing this to help and because keeping people engaged and busy is rewarded by leadership. They are feeding the feature factory. So when you start having more autonomous, mission-driven teams you get the backlash. Starting together is messy and involves a lot of ambiguity. It also takes TIME.”

Give Your Research Skills Away: Why Coaching Product Teams Won’t Put You Out of a Job

by Nancy Lincoln Perry (@NancypResearch)

“Some of the day-to-day work of user research will be distributed, giving full-time researchers more time for more strategic, specialized work. For any who feel nervous about whether coaching other disciplines might threaten their job security or sense of professionalism, I would emphasize that there’s no shortage of this kind of work to be done … So don’t hold back. Look forward to a future in which user research is no longer the voice of the customer but one of many customer voices — and give your research skills away. Our discipline may be changing and reinventing itself, but it’s not going to disappear.”

The Need to Think and Talk Like an Executive

by Jared Spool (@jmspool)

“The key to thinking and talking like an executive is money. Not having it. But using it to describe what the value of the design is and how it will pay off for the organization … UX design costs money. We have to pay designers. We need to do research. The money we spend on research, design, and production has to be less than the money the organization will gain because we’ve implemented that design. If it’s not, it’s not worth doing. This is a simplified notion of a return on investment. It seems obvious when we say it this way. Yet, it’s exactly what an executive needs to get behind an idea.”

5 Rules for Integrating UX with Agile and Scrum

by Jeff Gothelf (@jboogie)

“User Experience and Design bring with them many types of learning activities. These activities may be led by Designers (or researchers) but they should be practiced and attended by the entire team. The more the team can learn together, the less time is spent sharing and debating the learning and more time spent deciding what to do about the things we’ve learned (which is a far more productive conversation and use of the team’s time).”

The Science of Silence: Intentional Silence as a Moderation Technique

by Kate Kaplan (@katewkaplan)

“As UX professionals, we, too, can harness the power of intentional silence. If we can just become comfortable with that brief period of unsettling silence during our user interview sessions, usability tests, and workshops, we’ll get more out of our participants. Intentional silence, used strategically, can create space, invite response, and signal interest. And it is in periods of silence where participants often offer crucial and most-poignant information.”

Worth Another Read


Designing Ahead: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

by Anders Ramsey (@andersramsay)

“The more innovative the design work, the more groundbreaking or otherwise unusual it is, the more time you will likely need for upfront exploration. On the one hand, be mindful of the high level of risk attached to pursuing a highly unusual and non-standard user interface. At the same time, innovation is part of the UX game. Try to treat the innovation work like a UX spike, i.e. a short and intensive exploration. Just don’t turn it into an excuse for doing weeks or more of mockups and sketches. The goal should always be to find the shortest path to start to confront your ideas with something real.”

Something for You To Watch


Internal Product Development

(Lucia Adams, 25 mins)

“Developing influence across an organisation allows you to drive products – and transformation — forward. In this ProductTank London talk, Lucia Adams goes through examples and learning from her own experience (including all the times she got it wrong) as she offers her personal framework for accelerating change in business.”

Let’s Make a Design System! Live Coding at Smashing Conf

(Brad Frost, 55 mins)

“I had a great time at Smashing Conf San Francisco, where my session involved live-coding a design system on stage. I showed how creating a design system through the lens of design system pilot projects is a great way of making sure your design system serves real user/product needs. Of course I talked about atomic design as a helpful way of thinking about a design system as an interconnected, hierarchical set of components that come together to build real templates and pages.”

How Material Design Can Be Adopted and Measured for Product Success

(Michael Gilbert & Clara Kliman-Silver, 36 mins)

“Why use a design system? In this talk, explore how design systems and tools add value to teams and get a toolkit for setting up your teams to create, identify, and measure that value. With examples from Material Design, you’ll learn actionable tactics for implementing and understanding your design system’s success.”

The Lead Developer New York Redux

The Lead Developer New York took place last month with some great sessions. We think you will find these of especial interest:

If you like these, you might like to check out the other sessions.

Upcoming Events

Enterprise UX, 3-5 June, San Francisco

The Lead Developer, 11-12 June, London

No (Lab) Jacket Required: Designing Experiments For Learning, 12 June, Brighton

UX Scotland, 12-14 June, Edinburgh

Conflict Resolution for Agile Teammates Who Hate Conflict, 18 June, New York

RebelCon, 19-20 June, Cork

UXPA International Conference, 25-27 June, Scottsdale

User Research London, 27-28 June, London

Agile on the Beach, 11-12 July, Falmouth

UX Bristol, 12 July, Bristol

Mind the Product San Francisco, 15-16 July, San Francisco

Design & Content, 17-19 July, Vancouver

Agile2019, 5-9 August, Washington

UX Australia, 27-30 August, Sydney

re:develop, 20 September, Bournemouth

Industry: The Product Conference, 23-25 September, Cleveland

EuroIA, 26-28 September, Riga

UXDX, 7-8 October, Dublin

Mind the Product, 17-18 October, London

DesignOps Summit, 23-25 October, New York

Want to say hello in person? We’re attending Lead Developer London in June, running our popular one day User Story Mapping workshop at Mind the Product London in October, and looking forward to listening to the always entertaining talks at re:develop in September.

If you’d like us to run one of our workshops or talks at your company get in touch.

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

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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