Design thinking and lean startup concepts to make your team more agile.

Here is a summary of some of the reference material I have found most useful in exploring design thinking and lean start-up concepts to get to the heart of the problem you are trying to solve

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Here is a summary of some of the reference material I have found most useful in exploring design thinking and lean start-up concepts to get to the heart of the problem you are trying to solve. Often despite all this prework you have to acknowledge that you may still end up with the wrong problem statement which is where the beauty of the design process comes in, as you ideate and prototype your concepts and continually refine your problem statement with real client feedback. A side benefit of this approach is that you are setting yourself up with excellent stakeholder engagement.

Tim Brown — Change by Design

The initial phase when you approach a problem with design thinking is to avoid converging too quickly on a solution — now is the time for divergent thinking and coming up with as many ideas as possible. When you think you have enough — come up with more! This 3rd Third concept from Tim Hurson gets you to examine a process 3 times before looking to move one.

A key component of defining the problem you are working on is understanding the people you are solving the problem for. Consider using the Experience Map, Empathy Map, and systems thinking tools to help you look at connections and linkages beyond the linear 5 why’s type analysis.

Empathy map

A wonderful example of the design process being used to understand and find the clients pain points and the problem that requires solutions is the human centred design (HCD) case study — Toward a veteran centred VA. IDEO’s guide to human centred design is an excellent starting reference

Elements of a Customer Journey Map — (ref NNGroup)

If you find yourself stuck, look at reframing the opportunity — this allows you to step back, examine your biases, and open up new solution spaces — how would you solve it if you had no money; all the money; What if you where a fireman; a doctor; a child; a 90 year old; how could this be the greatest opportunity ever — what has to be true; what would the founder do; what would new management do; What if you had to solve it tomorrow; What about it needing to be 10x better for half the price? More good questions to ask when you are stuck here

Once you have used design thinking tools to understand your audience and frame a problem then you should be starting to see some better defined boundaries around your solution space — something like the business model canvas or lean canvas or lean change canvas or lean dashboard are all tools that you can use to help capture current thinking and areas of uncertainty.

lean dashboard

For a known problem with an unknown solution you want to apply a more iterative style such as Agile / Scrum, kanban, a design sprint or rapid learning cycles. Ash Maurya summarises how the sprint cycles come together to form a LEAN sprint.

LEAN sprint

Geert Claes plots out graphically how some of these different style interact at different phases of problem solution. Also a good summary of the methodologies here.

Geert Claes — When, which … Design Thinking, Lean, Design Sprint, Agile?

If you need some added motivation for why you should move towards an agile approach in your business you can look at this McKinsey study on the trademarks of an Agile organisation; Ash Maurya on theory 3x3 perspective; Scaled Agile framework on how their portfolio of options fit together (great for an enterprise wide summary); This great slideshare running through the lean startup process; Or this summary of why Lean drives value. The Spotify Engineering culture videos Part 1 and Part 2 are excellent summaries as well.

Ash Maurya — A 3x3x3 Perspective for getting your Vision, Strategy, and Product aligned

Finally Jeff Patton looks at the continuous delivery of projects whilst combining the development of new concepts. One track focused on maximising learning velocity, the other track on delivery velocity.

Dual track development

Books for the journey