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The Agile & Lean UX News #137

Welcome to issue #137 of the Agile and Lean UX News. Curated by Quietstars and delivered to your inbox. Occasionally.

Since the last issue Adrian has had several conversations with clients about rapid changes in styles of working / collaborating, which he wrote up in Overlap and Glue. He also wrote a metaphor about accountability and product development You Have A Performance Problem.

Finally our October OKR micro-workshop sold out! So we’re running it again in December for those who missed out!

How to Write OKRs That Don't Suck, Dec 1st 2020
5-6:30pm GMT | 12-1:30pm EST | 9–10:30am PST

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!

If you want to get an idea of the things we’ll be talking about check out the video of our talk at Lean Agile Exchange on OKRs That Don’t Suck.

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

Articles of Note


Introducing Maximum Viable Product (MaxVP)

by Joe Leech (@mrjoe)

“The MaxVP is reached when you're at the top of your game. Your product hums like a finely tuned engine. Business is booming. But there’s that fear it’ll end. Maybe competitors are snapping at your heels or your internal process are at max. The most common course of action is possibly the worst course of action. Keep adding features. At what point does the addition of extra features detract from those features already present. This is not just the law of diminishing returns. Adding more bells, whistles and enhancements can mean that finely tuned engine that is your product sputters and stalls.”

Managing Research Insights at a Portfolio Level

by Rachel Miles (@wonkyearrings)

“I was [am] constantly asked about past research findings and various questions about my studies. I’d have to go back into the files and find it so I could send them the link. Now, when I get asked, I send them to my repository. There are three main use cases for sharing a research repository with your team: seeing an overview of what research has been done already, managing the research pipeline, and absorbing observations and insights from research sessions.”

You Might Need a Collaboration Ground for Design Systems

by Budi Tanrim (@buditanrim)

“I hope this inspires us to not neglect the experience for people who use the design system and empathize. We should start with the people. While the collaboration ground works as a solution in our company. I highly encourage you to start talking with the system users. There might be a unique need in your company and a unique culture you are about to uncover.”

How Do You Build a Qualitative Data Lake?

by Rosemary King (@RozemaryKing)

“Qualitative data … is often data that is frittered away because it’s so difficult to collect in a way that allows you to pool it in one place. Even product teams, with careful research operations processes, architected drives, and elaborate Miro boards, have a hard time extending the value of qualitative data beyond a few months … Functional teams outside of Product often don’t have any hope of capturing the qualitative data that they collect. … Those countless feature requests from sales and marketing are useful nuggets and valuable data points that could build up to give REAL insights, if we could capture them.”

Falling in Love With Problems

by Julien Berthomier (@JBerthom)

“After nearly 3 years, we are throwing away 99% of the code we ever wrote, and we are launching an entirely new product. In other words, we are breaking up with our solution to fall in love with the problem again. It took us 4 steps to get to that epiphany: 1. Confronting ambiguity and facing reality. 2. Avoiding the "solution trap" 3. Picking the right problem 4. Choosing the path of least resistance.”

Worth Another Read


Co-Creation and the New Landscapes of Design

by Elizabeth B.-N. Sanders & Pieter Jan Stappers

“The evolution in design research from a user-centred approach to co-designing is changing the roles of the designer, the researcher and the person formerly known as the ‘user’. The implications of this shift for the education of designers and researchers are enormous. The evolution in design research from a user-centred approach to co-designing is changing the landscape of design practice as well, creating new domains of collective creativity. It is hoped that this evolution will support a transformation toward more sustainable ways of living in the future.”

Something for You To Watch


How to Connect Your Product Work to Your Top Business Metrics

(Pratima Arora, 73 mins)

“Nowadays, products are being bought instead of sold. This is as a result of customers becoming more informed, the rise of self-service initiatives and a greater emphasis on the cost of acquisition. This changing customer data means that product teams now need to prioritize what is important for the business and customers. They need to be aware of this change to get management buy-in on certain initiatives and product managers need to be able to use this information to allow their team to have quantifiable impact.”

Testing Business Ideas

(David Bland, 68 mins)

“Many teams struggle with designing experiments to generate learning. Taking a Jobs-To-Be-Done approach is helpful – what job does the product solve? When writing David’s book, he didn’t need to answer “why write this book?”, but rather “what job does the book solve for its readers?”. It’s fairly straightforward to visualize strategy in a business model canvas. But… how do you create tests that provide feedback back to the canvas’ strategy? To answer this, it only made sense to test the book about testing!”

Embracing the Art of Prioritisation

(Emily Tate, 22 mins)

“When working on prioritisation Product Managers need to be instilling focus, getting our teams on the same page and focussing on the next most important thing to do – to do this, it can help to keep in mind that your roadmap is where you are heading, but your backlog is how to get there. Your backlog contains your features, bugs, maintenance, tech debt, research, etc and they all need to be prioritised. Prioritisation, says Emily, is an art rather than a science and what works for one person might not work for another. Fortunately, she has a list of do’s and don’ts to help.”

MapCamp London 2019 Redux

Last year’s MapCamp London had some great sessions. We think you’ll find these of especial interest:

If you liked these do check out the other presentations.

Upcoming Events

JAM, 12-17 October, Online

UCD Gathering, 15-16 October, Online

Listening Deeply – Understand People Before Solving Problems, 16 October, Online

Managing Complex Products, 21 October, Online

Innovating In An Enterprise, 21 October, Online

DesignOps Summit, 21-23 October, Online

Reducing Inequalities, 28 October, Online

How to Write OKRs That Don't Suck, 1 December, 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.

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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