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The Agile & Lean UX News #98

Welcome to issue #98 of the Agile and Lean UX News. Curated by Quietstars and delivered to your inbox. Occasionally. We hope you are enjoying this unusually hot summer. Take a seat in the shade and a cool drink and see what we have for you today.

Adrian spoke recently at The Lead Developer conference on Points Don’t Mean Prizes asking questions about stories to keep the focus on value to the user. It’s only ten minutes long so you won’t waste too much time!

Articles of Note


A Few Things I’ve Learned About Dual-Track Agile

by Maria Nicholas (@mariaanicholas)

“I think it’s important to remember that when working in dual-track Agile, there’s no way you can do everything yourself. The best thing you can do is to get your cross-functional partners to help you, particularly in discovery and user research (but also through ideation in design sprints, because good ideas can and should come from anywhere). When everyone pitches in, the reward is greater understanding, a greater sense of ownership, and increased speed because everyone is learning together in real time.”

How We’re Using Contextual Research to Improve GOV.UK Notify

by Holly Challenger (@HRChallenger)

“We’ve found it useful to not just take notes from contextual research, but to collect photos and other artefacts of the systems or processes we’ve seen. For example, we seek permission to take photographs of the other tools people are using alongside Notify and we get copies of documents they produce. This stuff is a really rich source of data — it shows us what people actually do, not just what they say they do.”

PMs: Share Outcomes With Your Team

by John Cutler (@johncutlefish)

“Software developers care deeply about outcomes, but aren’t necessarily the most vocal when it comes to advocating to see them. Don’t assume silence means indifference. The challenge is that sharing ongoing outcomes is a muscle. You need to practice and make it a regular part of the team’s cadence of rituals, artifacts, etc. Otherwise, you’ll always be stuck pulling ad hoc reports, or just ignoring it altogether.”

How I Learned to Use a Rolling Issues Board for Usability Analysis

by Jessica Ivins (@jessicaivins)

“As a faculty member, and as the students’ project manager, the rolling issues board helps me stay up-to-date with the project. I look at the board when I can’t attend the research sessions. I can see what evidence students gathered from usability sessions and the severity of the usability issues. I understand how these usability findings might inform the next step of the project.”

By the People, For the People: Keeping Your Design System Evergreen

by Lara M. Tacito (@laramata)

“At the end of the day, making the maintenance of our design language a breeze wasn’t just good for our designers and developers — it was good for our users. Redesigning our product with Canvas was a big change, but our goal was to build a system and process so strong that we’d never need to redesign our product again … By creating a strong design system and a strong process to support it, we can support a thoughtful process of product evolution — without the burden of wholesale revolution. It’s a system that works.”

Worth Another Read


Thinking Inspired by the Agile Retreat

by Marc McNeill (@dancingmango)

“UXers need to start seeing developers as partners rather than consumers of what they do. What if we aligned our teams around the products we build rather than the functional silos that the roles describe? Bringing agile and UX together is more fundamental than arguing about the process … it is about fundamentally changing the way we build software; see it as a team activity that works collaboratively rather than a factory production line with process gates and separation of responsibility.”

Enterprise UX Conference Redux

The Enterprise UX conference took place last month in San Francisco with some great sessions. We think you will find these talks of particular interest:

The other sessions are well worth taking a look at too.

Something for You To Watch


How to Improve Your Team’s Conflict Competence

(Julia Whitney, 21 mins)

“Conflict can be mined and used constructively by those who understand it. You can better explore the issues facing your team, and come up with a broader set of options for moving forward. Ultimately you will make better decisions, commit to them more intensely and execute them more effectively. This also breeds a team’s resilience by showing them they can survive and flourish in even the most intense situations.”

Revitalizing a Cross-Functional Product Organization

(Deepa Subramaniam & Lara Hogan, 43 mins)

“The product and engineering teams at every company size have the same goals: positive team health, high-velocity shipping, and strategic execution. Yet we often get in our own way — from ill-defined roles and responsibilities to toxic communication patterns, to well-meaning but under-equipped managers.”

Effective Storytelling to Motivate and Align Your Team

(Anna Marie Clifton, 34 mins)

“As product managers, we often talk in data points. However, when we start listing out data points, our listeners’ eyes begin to glaze over … As humans, we’re not built to take in and process data points, we’re built to understand the world around us through story. In this talk, Anna Marie Clifton, product manager at Coinbase, shares how she taps into our humanity by using storytelling to align teams, connect with customers, and get buy-in from stakeholders.”

Upcoming Events

Balanced Team Salon, 18 July, New York

Design & Content, 25-27 July, Vancouver

Agile2018, 6-10 August, San Diego

Lean Innovation Masterclass, 14 August, Atlanta

UX Week, 21-24 August, San Francisco

UX Australia, 28-31 August, Melbourne

Refresh 2018, 7 September, Tallinn

Product Innovation Summit, 27-28 September, Boston

EuroIA, 27-29 September, Dublin

Industry, 1-3 October, Ohio

Business of Software USA, 1-3 October, Boston

Global Scrum Gathering, 8-10 October, London

MWUX, 11-13 October, Chicago

Agilia Budapest, 15-17 October, Budapest

World Usability Congress, 17-18 October, Graz

Leading the Product, 18 October, Melbourne

Mind the Product, 18-19 October, London

Leading the Product, 23 October, Sydney

Agile in the City: Bristol, 7-9 November, Bristol (10% off with code Adrian)

DesignOps Summit, 7-9 November, New York

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.

We’re running one more public workshops on user story mapping in October. See our workshops page for more details (if you want to run this workshop inside your company drop us a line at

If you want to meet us in person we’ll be presenting at the Scrum Gathering London in October, and Agile in the City: Bristol in November. Do come along and say hello (you can get 10% of Agile in the City: Bristol tickets with the code “Adrian”.)

If you can’t get the support & advice you need within your org our team coaching and our 1-on-1 remote personal coaching sessions can help.

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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