The beauty of the agile workflow
The agile workflow and methodology has always been an interesting concept to me. When I was a project manager, I was interacting with clients to discover their unmet needs and goals and then going back to the office to collaborate with the design team. We would take this project from ideation to delivery in a very fast-paced, collaborative, and agile work environment. I LOVED it!
As I was working in this environment, I didn't know there was a term to describe this methodology until I started investing more time in my design education. When I was first introduced to the agile software development and Lean UX methodology, I immediately thought, 'hey, I've done this.'
I recently finished reading Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf & Josh Seiden, and boy did I learn a lot. However, I was also catching myself checking off boxes of the Lean UX principles that I have already experienced doing. Here are some of those principles that I could directly relate my experience to and utilize my transferrable skills to explain how I can succeed in this kind of work environment.
Principle: Cross-Functional Teams
As a project manager and account manager, I was working with cross-functional internal teams from day one of the project until client hand-off. The consistent conversation and insights from all of the teams created a more efficient and successful team environment.
Principle: Small, Dedicated, Colocated
Each project I managed had a dedicated graphic designer, photographer (if necessary), and web developer (if necessary) that I was working with. Like Gothelf and Seiden explain in their book, this small team encouraged "communication, focus, and camaraderie." The relationships also grew because we were working in such a tight-knit team.
Principle: Problem-Focused Teams
Being a part of a small marketing agency, we were client-focused, so our projects were primarily based on solving a business problem. This also focused our attention on outcomes (business goals) rather than outputs (features and services).
Principle: GOOB: The New User-Centricity
GOOB stands for "getting out of the building." With this principle, the customer decides whether the product is a failure or a success. During my marketing roles, our team would conduct focus groups before committing to marketing campaigns and high-cost projects to ensure we were adding value to our users before committing to an expensive, timely project.
Principle: Shared Understanding
I think this correlates directly with principle one (cross-functional teams). Communicating and collaborating effectively gives all members on the team an understanding of the problem, the product, and the users. This principle is essential in Lean UX.
Principle: Externalizing Your Work
While working as a project manager and account manager, the marketing and account management team would often come together and give updates on the work we were doing. We would also participate in brainstorming sessions to share our ideas via group conversations or writing out ideas on sticky-notes and posting them on a whiteboard. The sticky-note method encouraged everyone, even the quieter ones in the group, to share their thoughts and ideas in a supportive and collaborative environment.
If you look at your past roles, there's a good chance that you have experience in at least one of the principles of Lean UX. If this is a completely new idea for you, that's okay! There are so many resources to teach new designers the ins-and-outs of Lean UX and the agile workflow. The first book I would recommend to get you introduced to this methodology is Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden's book, Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience.