The Integration of Experience Design, Agile and DevOps

Salina Brown
Jul 15, 2019 · 4 min read

The benefits of establishing agile relationships to capture user feedback early while building software faster is a no brainer. Yet, most organizations are still struggling to get there.

Dr. James Patell, a founding core faculty member of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (the d-School), believes in human-centered design, achieved through the establishment of true empathy. In his teaching, he says, “We must fill in two blanks: Our users need a better way to __ BECAUSE __. The because portion is a big deal.”

“We must fill in two blanks: Our users need a better way to __ BECAUSE __. The because portion is a big deal.”

But at CTP, continuous feedback loops are supported by rapid deployment in our SDLC to ensure we deliver value at speed. We believe the more appropriate phrase is:

“We must fill in three blanks: Our users need a better way to ___ BECAUSE ___ and we will be able to DEPLOY ___ to the production environment for tomorrow morning’s beta release.”

Our users need a better way to ___ BECAUSE ___ and we will be able to DEPLOY ___ to the production environment for tomorrow morning’s beta release.”

We’ve expanded Dr. Patell’s thinking to account for the DevOps function in our software development life cycle. Experience Design helps articulate the “BECAUSE” by capturing user feedback early and facilitating collaborative problem-solving. But without the rapid “DEPLOY”, we cannot continually incorporate those insights back into our products or solutions. Embracing DevOps and Experience Design empowers us to iterate and quickly respond to market changes.

DevOps is not about software, it’s about communication and collaboration. Much like DevOps, which fosters collaboration and communications between software engineering, operations, and product, Experience Design fosters collaboration and communications between software engineering, the product, and its users. However, managing collaboration across software engineering, operations, the product, and users is no small feat.

DevOps is not about software, it’s about communication and collaboration. Much like DevOps, which fosters collaboration and communications between software engineering, operations, and product, Experience Design fosters collaboration and communications between software engineering, the product, and its users. However, managing collaboration across software engineering, operations, the product, and users is no small feat.

Breaking Down the Silos

Today most large organizations are led by centralized leadership that wants to optimize for predictability and efficiency, rather than innovation. They assemble static teams by function, binding a team member’s identity to that function — e.g. “I am an Engineer. I code.” The organizational transformation required to establish agile relationships between teams supports Experience Design and DevOps methodologies, but often threatens one’s personal and organizational identity. When threatened, team members often retreat to neatly defined roles, reinforcing silos and resisting collaborative work.

We are not suggesting that you dump your current organizational model for a holacratic one, or swap traditional titles for made up ones like, “Manager of Fantastic Awesomeness.” However, we find that when team members are encouraged to reach outward and contribute to conversations outside of their roles or team functions, problem-solving is accelerated.

Figure 1:Trough of Agile Relationships

Decentralized mutable teams commonly found in startups or consulting firms are forced to continually realign and rethink common goals, challenge personal and team identities and explore new strategies that drive synergistic output. Teams that are mutable, dynamic, collaborative and synergistic are likely already practicing Experience Design, DevOps, and Agile methodologies.

Agile teams delivering innovative solutions need to be made up of:

  • Product Owner
  • Experience Designer
  • Architects
  • Software Engineers
  • QA
  • IT Operations

Collaborate to Innovate

At CTP we embed our clients in our design and development sprints and we facilitate collaboration across our internal and client’s external teams.

  • Continuous feedback
  • Continuous product iteration
  • Continuous integration
  • Continuous deployment & delivery

Everyone benefits when we stop thinking myopically and start problem solving collaboratively about how the solution delivers value to the customer, and to the enterprise. So, how can you help your team embrace the adoption of Experience Design, Agile and DevOps methodologies?

Here are a few tangible steps to start:

  1. Encourage product, design, and engineering to broadly distribute learnings: Invite more software engineers and architects to product design discussions and encourage them to participate in design thinking
  2. Infect delivery and non-delivery teams with user feedback and technology feasibility insights
  3. Rationally challenge the vision at each sprint and embrace uncertainty: Design thinking and fail-fast are all about asking questions that sometimes may not present answers immediately.
  4. Try to integrate team members’ personal goals into your solutions: Leverage existing curiosities within the team. Maybe you have someone who has always wanted to try out a new framework or design for AWS Elasticsearch
  5. The architect should be part of the design process to ensure a high degree of collaboration on a design that is achievable.
  6. Encourage your team members to be proactive about identifying problems to solve versus waiting for assignable tasks

Figure 2: DevOps, Experience Design and Agile Development

The integration of Experience Design, DevOps, and Agile methodologies is already happening. The reality is that many enterprises are in a disrupted industry and innovation is core to survival and to remaining relevant in today’s day and age. Good luck!

Design is Tacit

Design is tacit.

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