To address the complexity and unpredictability of software development, Agile methods break down functionality into small chunks. This allows your team to make corrections before you go too far in the wrong direction.
But Agile methods don’t guarantee you’re building the right thing. How can you predict that customers will actually buy your product?
That’s where Lean comes in.
Lean focuses on creating services that matter to your users by testing your assumptions. To do this, you need a deep understanding of your users and their experiences.
Inspired by both Lean and Agile development theories, Lean UX lets you focus on the actual experience being created, rather than on deliverables.
REMOTE LEAN UX WORKSHOPS
We wanted to explore how Lean UX could work for remote teams. So MURAL partnered with Lean UX author Jeff Gothelf and FanDuel, the leading web-based daily fantasy sports company, to conduct a Lean UX workshop with a distributed team.
Here’s how it went down.
Typically, Jeff runs his workshops face-to-face, on location. The sessions are highly interactive and require active participation from the entire team.
In this case, the team was split into two locations: one in Edinburgh and one in New York City. The challenge was to conduct Jeff’s workshop across those locations and still engage everyone.
Luckily, we’ve had some practice doing this. MURAL partnered with Jeff in the past to experiment on how to conduct his course with remote teams. See summaries here and here.
Prior to the call, Jeff worked with MURAL to create team activity templates. These served as the basis for the group collaboration.
The first template was based on previous experiments in remote Lean UX conducted with MURAL. Each step on the process was timeboxed to keep the group focused.
The second MURAL template took the team through a Design Studio activity. This required everyone to sketch solutions and email them to Jeff to upload to the mural. Each participant then discussed his or her own sketch before deciding on a single solution across the team.
A meeting was set up that worked for each time zone: 1 pm in Edinburgh and 9 am in NYC. At the scheduled time, everyone joined via Google Hangouts.
Jeff joined the group in Edinburgh for the real-time session. Everyone was set up with their own computer to participate, and the presentation was also projected in the meeting room.
In New York, some more members of the FanDuel team joined in the call from a conference room, and a few other team members joined from remote locations.
The team exercise was made up of two parts.
PART 1 - Hypothesis Generation and Product Discovery
The first part of the Lean UX workshop - product discovery and hypothesis generation - has 5 steps:
Business outcomes - Lean focuses on desired outcomes: articulate what your objective is before you begin. In this part, the team already had a good sense of the business outcomes. We started with an in depth discussion of these, which were already added to the mural for reference.
Personas - FanDuel already has a complete set of rich personas. They were included in the mural prior to the workshop, which saved a lot of time. The product lead reviewed the personas out loud with the team to get everyone on the same page. He presented them right from the mural so everyone was able to see.
User outcomes - A list of desired user outcomes was brainstormed among the entire team.
Features - The team quickly went through some existing features and added to them.
Hypotheses - In the final step, the teams generated hypothesis statements.
Part 2 - Design Studio
After a break, the group focused on MVPs. Jeff first gave some background and shared examples of ways to test them, such as with a Fake Storefront and Wizard of Oz.
The goal of this part was to sketch collaboratively to design experiments.
Each team - one in Edinburgh, one in NYC - selected one hypothesis to work on. They then sketched possible solutions on paper.
The participants then took a photo of their sketches and sent them to Jeff, who was able to upload them to the Design Studio mural.
Overall, the session went smoothly. Everyone was able to contribute to the exercises. Below are our key take-aways from the remote workshop with FanDuel:
Prepare the collaboration: We ensured things would run smoothly by preparing in advance. We thought through the steps of the interaction in detail and worked out a plan for facilitating the workshop. Creating templates in MURAL helped structure the activities and guide the teams through the exercises.
Blend offline and online: Using a simple mobile phone camera allowed this team to easily sketch offline and move them into MURAL on-the-fly. This let everyone on the call see each other’s sketches and comment on them. They could zoom in on the photos and easily see the detail. What’s more, capturing sketches during the live session produced an instant record of work: anyone could return to the mural to review what was created and discussed, even people who were not in the session.
Strive for balanced participation: In this workshop, there was an imbalance in interaction. The group in Edinburgh dominated the conversation, and we didn’t hear much from the NY office or remote participants. This likely had to do with the fact that they had a large co-located group and the facilitator physically present with them. The few people who dialed in were left out of the conversation. Luckily, everyone was still able to follow along visually and contribute through MURAL. In general, we recommend striving for equal participation from everyone. For this workshop, we could have improved that aspect.
Getting started with MURAL templates mentioned in this story. Just click on the images below to access the template in your MURAL team and use it for your own team activity.
No matter where your team is, you can work Lean. Confront marketplace uncertainty by stating your assumptions and testing them. Then, reduce wasted time and effort by only building those things that really matter to customers.
Don’t let a distributed team slow you down. With a little forethought and preparation, teams can continue to be productive no matter where they are.