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The Agile & Lean UX News #125

Welcome to issue #125 of the Agile and Lean UX News. Curated by Quietstars and delivered to your inbox. Occasionally.

Welcome to our first newsletter of 2020. We hope it’s going as well as could be expected for you. All things considered.

Adrian’s been shifting some of his posts from medium — so you have a chance to re-read Taking Your First Steps as a Director of UX if you like.

Articles of Note


Six Tactics to Maximize UX Research in Agile

by Kuppy Tanaporn Benjapolakul

“Prioritize well by researching what has the biggest impact and is least time-consuming.

You can’t do research to uncover 100% of the unknown in the flow but you can research the most critical part of the flow to uncover 80% of the unknown. You have a lot of things in your design which you can validate so list out all of the unknowns into individual research items. Map out your design and list all of the flows and features.”

Empowering Teams to Work Better Together

edited by Janet M Six

“Our experts also consider the importance of aligning on different groups’ shared goals and developing both company-wide and department-level principles and practices that enable teams to work better together. They discuss how to align on design solutions and, thus, avoid the waste that results from unilaterally creating design solutions that stakeholders ultimately reject. The rejection of a UX design likely indicates issues with a company’s culture, a lack of collaboration and communication, or a failed design and development process.”

How to Get Stakeholders to Sketch: A Magic Formula

by Kate Kaplan (@katewkaplan)

“Despite the known benefits, it can be difficult to get unprepared stakeholders comfortable with sketching during cocreation sessions. The idea of publicly producing creative artifacts in front of peers can be initially unsettling to some people — especially to those without a design background. You can ease stakeholders’ discomfort with sketching by incorporating a few simple techniques into the process.”

Design APIs: The Evolution of Design Systems

by Matthew Ström (@ilikescience)

“A fully-networked design system, powered by a design API, gives massive leverage to even the smallest teams. Using a design API, designers and developers can maintain larger and larger codebases, deployed over multiple apps and platforms, without sacrificing quality or consistency. Design concerns like accessibility could be automated and managed by dedicated systems; changes could be tested on the fly, in production, by a single designer.”

Moves to Modern Research: A New Maturity Model for User-Centric Organizations

by Michael Winnick and Mac Hasley (@machasley)

“For many of us, “where we’re going” looks a lot different from “where we are.” And navigating the fundamental changes—in our research scope, timelines, org structures, and deliverables—can be a clumsy process. Moves to Modern Research is a series of steps we’ve seen companies take as they expand and evolve their research practices. Use it to assess your organization’s maturity and to shape the way your research team grows, develops, and influences.”

Worth Another Read


Design vs. Implementation

by Marty Cagan (@cagan)

“User experience design needs to happen before the implementation begins. This is one situation where sequential is important … For Agile teams, the sprint should start once the requirements and user experience design are defined (still in as small of increments as possible). It requires a somewhat richer definition of what’s in the backlog, but the team will be happier and the product will be better for it.”

Something for You To Watch


Managing Products at Scale

(Lindsay Rothman, 22 mins)

“Embrace patterns, even if they aren’t optimal. Creating a pattern helps to provide consistency across products. For example, you can avoid wasting design cycles and make a product easy to use by ensuring that every feature fits a certain pattern and isn’t just standalone. Develop principles that are oriented around the user. This helps to reduce complexity and can help you to avoid adding unnecessary invasive notifications. Communicate heuristics to avoid repeating mistakes and make sure you write things down.”

Leading Design New York 2019 Redux

Last year’s Leading Design NYC had some great sessions. We think you’ll find these of especial interest:

If you liked these do check out the other sessions.

Upcoming Events

Mind the Product Engage, 7 February, Manchester

Product Con, 11 February, London

Leading Design, 4-6 March, San Francisco

Industry, 9-11 March, Dublin

Design Research, 18-20 March, Melbourne

Unlearn - Cultivating Behaviors and Mindset for Extraordinary Results, 23 March, London

The Product Owner Role, 31 March, Manchester

BarCamp London, 4 April, London

Agile-Lean Ireland, 20-21 April, Dublin

Agile Manchester, 13-15 May, Manchester

ACE! 20-22 May, Kraków

UX Scotland, 10-12 June, Edinburgh

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.

On 7th February Adrian will be speaking about “How to Write OKRs That Don't Suck” alongside some fantastic local product people at MTP Engage Manchester. Hope to see you there. He’ll also be attending BarCamp London in April.

We’re also in the middle of planning Balanced Team London 2020 — more info and dates coming soon. Follow the #BalancedTeam hashtag on twitter for updates.

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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