I think this can work. But engineers have to think about their users and designers have to learn to think more like engineers. Here are some things I’ve seen happen when trying to combine these approaches:
- Engineers suddenly get a lot more context about how their work was being used. That changes how they evaluate and peer review.
- Designers learn to be less precious about their work as their insights from research and testing went quickly into development.
- Product managers should be flexible enough to rely heavily on design and engineering to build the roadmap.
- Engineers and designers have to work much closer together. Designers have to review engineers’ work more than they usually do. Engineers have to be across research to develop empathy.
- Product managers have to co-ordinate design and build in two concurrent streams where design is always a few steps ahead of build, and circling back around for testing too. It’s definitely a bit more of a dance.
Google is using RITE testing (rapid iterative testing and evaluation) to cut the research/testing process shorter and put new feedback into action faster. I think it’s a good example of how to combine these approaches in an effective way.