You’re not practicing Lean UX if …

I posed a question on Twitter, LinkedIn and via email to some Lean UX thinkers out there. The question was, “Help me finish this sentence, ‘You’re not practicing Lean UX if …’”

I asked this because we’re working hard at making Lean UX fit into our organization and we have opinions on what the fundamentals are (early customer validation, user problem statement, customer hypothesis, etc …); however, we have a unique set of limitations. For example, we can’t necessarily co-locate, or we don’t have the physical environment that startups have. We believe, however, that we can still practice the fundamentals of Lean UX successfully despite this. Really, what I’m asking is, “What are the absolute must haves to be successful with Lean UX?

Here are few of my favorite responses and why …

From Ha Phan @hpdailyrant

  • “your collaboration sessions with the team don’t include business goals & strategies.”

As much as I want to focus on solving user problems, it doesn’t fly if we don’t consider where we are headed as a business and whether or not the activity fits in.

  • “you’re not defining KPI’s & integrating analytics into each release.”

Without a valid measurement, we can’t know if we’re solving the problem. There has to be at least one number that we can point to and know if we’re failing or succeeding.

  • “you implement every single step in the design process instead of picking and choosing from design toolbox.”

Lean UX is a set of principles and tools and should be applied as needed. We shouldn’t be ticking every box on a project management cycle.

  • “you’re creating long design specs for the vision of the entire product.”

Users do not interact with requirements documents, specs and wireframes, so the quicker we can get to the end product, the better. Let’s not get bogged down in the interim deliverables. Instead, let’s create the lightest thing we can to communicate how to apply the thinking to the end design.

From Jeff Gothelf @jboogie

  • “you are not managing towards outcomes (not outputs, feature sets, etc).”

At the end of the day, you need to consider the bottom line. Sure we’re building products, but more importantly, we’re building a business. It’s important to ask if what we’re doing will make money? If so, how?

  • “you don’t have a willingness and freedom/support to experiment.”

This can’t be done without executive buy in.

From Melissa Hui @melissahui

  • “you’re spending more time working on documentation than you are thinking about the design and collaboration with team members.”

Similar to what Ha said, but this identifies an interesting danger. Working on documentation tends to be a one-person activity that takes away from valuable collaboration.

  • “your development team is not seeing what they’re building until they have to build it.”

The development team should be fully engaged and involved in the design process. Again, collaboration is key.

This is what lead me to create the Lean UX Manifesto. It’s about letting principles (and not rules) drive you. Feel free to add to this list in the comments below.