Reducing deliverables is only one relatively small benefit of shifting our mindset away from traditional UX practices and thinking “lean.” Some of the most ardent promoters of thinking lean, towards UX and other disciplines, are practitioners outside of the UX world. The cross-functional collaboration, constant communication streams and customer-validated learnings that Lean UX provides broadens the impact that UX has on an organization. It does so tactically but even more so strategically. Lean UX opens up the discipline and invites others in to engage and educate them in all the good, bad and ugly twists the UX discipline goes through to arrive at viable solutions.
In his recent post “Lean UX is Dead. Long Live Lean UX.” Greg Laugero noted, “Some tendencies within Lean UX treat deliverables and documentation as the equivalent of clerical work, or worse as “waste.” To me, systems with any strategic value to our organizations require you to think through complex user stories. This will require some thought experiments, many of which need to be written down and shared with others who are not part of the small, co-located team.” Let me be very clear: Lean UX is not “anti-deliverables.” It is a refocusing of UX efforts away from the documentation for which we’ve become known inside and outside organizations. It moves towards validating product hypotheses that relieve the organization of wasteful practices that include designing and building products and features customers don’t actually want. We achieve this by creating interactive experiences – the ultimate manifestation of our work – earlier and more quickly. Inevitably, as Laugero notes, we will have to create artifacts along the way. The focus should still be to design the best experience while minimizing the amount of time designing the wrong ones — not to design documentation that describes these design hypotheses.
We all face many challenges to successful team collaboration including working with distributed teams. Testing and communication to distributed teams requires different types of communication. However by facilitating these communications through regularly cadenced, cross-functional conversations, the depth and complexity of the documentation you’ll need to create will be diminished. Subsequently, any rework of that documentation will also be diminished. This is the waste that is being removed.
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