The latest Agile & Lean UX news - in your inbox

The Agile & Lean UX News #139

Welcome to issue #139 of the Agile and Lean UX News. Curated by Quietstars and delivered to your inbox. Occasionally.

The holiday season is upon us once more — and our long time subscribers will know that this means Lean UXmas is about to start. One classic article each day until Christmas. Visit each day or follow along on twitter @LeanUXmas.

There are still a couple of tickets left for tomorrow’s micro-workshop How to Write OKRs That Don't Suck starting at £49. Grab ‘em while you can. (If you want to get an idea of the things we’ll be talking about check out the video of the OKR talk from Lean Agile Exchange earlier this year.)

Finally any German speaking readers might enjoy Scrum sagt nicht, dass, a translation of Adrian’s article Scrum Doesn’t Say.

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

Articles of Note


Four Surprising Advantages to Teaching UX Workshops Online

by Sophia V Prater (@sophiavux)

“When our audience has a 3-second commute from their living room to their laptop, we have the freedom to create more digestible segments of content. When participants have time between sessions, they not only re-energize, they process the material. They literally sleep on it. I can even assign asynchronous homework to my participants — and to myself. I’ve found so much value in looking into groups’ Mural boards between sessions. I can see which groups are confused and I can anticipate questions to address as soon as we all get together again.”

Asking Better Questions

by John Cutler (@johncutlefish)

“You need to make it safe to ask “dumb” and less fully-formed questions. And you can’t rush it. When the people brainstorming are worried about looking silly, they’ll shut down. If they feel rushed, they’ll stick with surface-level questions. Great questions spring from less-great questions which spring from “bad” questions. It takes time and multiple cycles of divergence and convergence to come up with the highest impact questions. So make the time and make it safe.”

OKRs: So Simple! So Then Why Isn’t Everyone Using Them?

by Kim Atherton

“Linking Initiatives (which are experiments or projects) to quantifiable Key Results (business outcomes) means the impact they’re having can be monitored. This allows the whole organisation to take a more entrepreneurial approach and helps to embed the Agile principles that so many of us strive for. Furthermore, the cadence of OKRs is typically annually at the organisational level but quarterly at the team level, leading to a more dynamic and adaptable approach.”

Speaking the Same Language (When Talking About User-Centred Design at BT)

by John Anthony

“Our first step in building strong foundations has been to create a set of working definitions for key terms we use in user-centred design. This will give us all a shared understanding and the ability to communicate effectively when we talk about UCD … It’s important to remember that individually we attribute different meanings to these terms — and that some team members new to UCD may not want to admit they don’t understand some of the terms. This all leads to many wasted hours though misunderstanding and poor communication.”

The Product Strategy Cycle

by Roman Pichler (@romanpichler)

“Strategy and execution have to be closely connected: The former should not only guide execution, but execution should inform strategy changes and help adapt the strategy.

Based on this insight, I have come up with the product strategy cycle … It’s a model of an iterative process that systematically links the product strategy with the product roadmap, the product backlog, the development work, and the key performance indicators (KPIs).”

Worth Another Read


Writing Live Fieldnotes: Towards a More Open Ethnography

by Tricia Wang (@triciawang)

“It’s more about communication and less about perfection. My goal is more to show my raw notes than perfect notes. I do not aim for grammatically correct fieldnotes. I am often writing my fieldnotes while I’m walking or in the middle of eating or on a train. Often times I’m rushing to write my notes while I can grab a 3G connection or while I have 2 minutes alone before I have to be fully engaged again. So you may not always be in the most ideal or controlled environment when writing live fieldnotes, and that’s ok! Just roll with it and get the notes out.”

Something for You To Watch


Lessening the Research Burden on Vulnerable Communities

(Sarah Fathallah, 25 mins)

"This talk covers specific approaches to employ when working with vulnerable populations, starting with a definition of vulnerability, then discussing how to ensure that researchers remain safe, respectful, fair, and culturally appropriate. This includes: choosing the right research methods for the participants, topic, and context at hand; recruiting and compensating research participants; ensuring research participants are aware of their rights and potential risks for participating in the research.”

Evidence-Based Product Backlogs

(John Pagonis, 25 mins)

“First of all, you should turn your backlog items into assumptions, ask yourself if they need to be built rather than how or by when. Assign a value and a risk level to each of your backlog items and test your riskiest assumption first. For some products, getting access to users in a timely and affordable way can be tricky. Start with internal customer-facing staff such as your support team, sales team or analytics tools and synthesise the data you have first.”

Roadmaps & Prioritisation – Lessons Learnt the Hard Way

(Ren Yi Hooi, 21 mins)

“Be outcome focused. All planned releases should be linked back to strategic goals and objectives. Understandably the development team will need more tangible detail in order to plan the technical approach, however it’s important to have a shared understanding of why the work is important in relation to the longer term vision.”

Leading Design Redux

Last year’s Leading Design conference had some excellent sessions. We think you’ll find these especially interesting:

If you enjoyed these do take some time to check out the other sessions.

Upcoming Events

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

Managing Products: A Reality Check, 2 December, Online

Lean UX & Product Discovery for Agile Teams, 12 January - 2 February, Online

The What and Why of Continuous Discovery, 12 January, Online

IXDA Interaction Week, 31 January-5 February, Online

Control the Room, 2-4 February, Online

ProductCon, 9 February, Online

UXRConf Anywhere, 25-26 February, Online

Her Product Lab Virtual Summit, 4 March, Online

Business of Software, 22-23 March, Online

INDUSTRY, 20-21 April, 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 enjoyed talking about Pace Layer Mapping at #mtpcon earlier this month. We’ll be running a new micro-workshop on Pace Layer Mapping early next year. We’ll let you know when tickets are on sale.

(In the meantime there are still a few tickets left for tomorrow’s micro-workshop How to Write OKRs That Don't Suck starting at £49!)

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)

Forward to Friend
unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Copyright © 2020 Quietstars, All rights reserved.
Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp